2020 was not the year anyone expected — a racial-justice movement, a presidential election, unprecedented unemployment, and a global public-health crisis. I, like many other college students, was excited to spend my last summer as a University of Iowa student completing an internship in a different part of the country, covering a state government that wildly differs from the Iowa Statehouse.
What was supposed to be a 12-week internship at the state Capitol turned into a remote job I was able to do from my home in Illinois. Still, I learned an incredible amount about government reporting and have dozens of clips that I’m really proud of. I felt like a fish out of water during my first couple weeks covering the Legislature, but there were so many talented editors and reporters who were willing to communicate with me over email and telephone daily. Even from two states away, I still felt like I was getting hands-on experience.
I wrote enterprise stories about student-loan debt and the hardships farmers faced amid COVID-19, and I was also pushed out of my comfort zone with a couple of campaign finance and public record stories. I really felt like I was writing important stories and stories that mattered, and I had a lot of autonomy to pitch ideas that I wanted to pursue. With the help of editors, reporters, and the fast-paced environment, I quickly became familiar with a state I had previously never been to. If you’re someone from outside of Pennsylvania and want state government reporting experience, this internship absolutely can be done!
I truly cannot speak highly enough of this program. I can’t think of any other internship program where I would have received that level of mentorship, independence, and a wide variety of clips that I’m proud to show any potential employer. I knew going into the internship that I had a passion for political reporting, but this program helped to realize that political reporting is a realistic career for me — and that I really enjoyed doing it full time. I would absolutely encourage anyone with a strong desire to grow as a political reporter to apply for this program.
Julia Shanahan, 2020 intern
University of Iowa