William and Mary students parlay semester internships into D.C. jobs

As the W&M in Washington Program begins its second year, program administrators have discovered a welcome result of having William and Mary students living, studying and working in Washington, D.C. during the school year-namely, that nearly 30 percent of spring 2007 semester students parlayed their internships into summer or full-time jobs.The D.C. contingent pose for a photograph at CSPAN headquarters with CSPAN president Brian Lamb and Professor Christine Nemacheck.

The W&M in Washington Program is an opportunity for students who want to experience "working" Washington in a structured and supervised way, tapping the dynamic institutions of the Washington metropolitan area to provide unparalleled experiential learning opportunities. The program features an academically rigorous curriculum built around a semester-by-semester topic, with internships matched to that topic. Students work up to 35 hours a week, and receive 12 credits from two four-credit courses and one four-credit internship.

Applications for the spring 2008 semester program, "US National Security in the Twenty-First Century," will be available on August 31 and are due by 5 p.m. on October 1, 2007.

The fall 2006 semester of the program, themed "The Intersection of Law and Politics," was taught by Assistant Professor of Government Christine Nemacheck, while the spring 2007 semester was "Arts in Washington" under the direction of Anne Rasmussen, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology. With students working at the United States Senate, National Public Radio, the Justice Department, National Geographic, the American Bar Association, the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, and many others-they saw first hand the day-to-day operations of the nation's premier governmental and cultural institutions.

As a result of their hard work and achievement, four spring students and one fall student parlayed their internships into summer and even full-time jobs:

Zack Brisson ‘07, National Geographic:
As a senior, Zack Brisson (Arts in Washington) hoped to find an internship that would lead to a post-graduate job. He found that very opportunity with his internship position as an editorial assistant with National Geographic's Traveler Magazine, where he wrote articles for publication in the magazine and on the National Geographic Web site. After completing the W&M in Washington Semester, Brisson was offered a position as a research specialist with the International Licensing Group of National Geographic Enterprises.

"Without a doubt, my current position came directly as a result of my experience as an intern within another division of the Society," Brisson said.

Michelle Treseler '07, Center for the Study of the Presidency:
Working for former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Susan Blumenthal, Michelle Treseler (Law and Politics) tackled one of the most pressing issues in politics today: U.S. health policy. She assisted in the development and implementation of health policy programs, and conducted research on national and global health emerging issues including the pandemic flu, disease prevention, and the uninsured. She also co-authored an article comparing the health plans of the presidential candidates.

After completing her W&M in Washington semester in the fall of 2006, Treseler decided to delay her graduation until December 2007 to accept a full-time job with The Center for the Study of the Presidency as a health policy associate. Her range of responsibilities has increased greatly, and she now manages four interns of her own.

Tommy Gillespie ‘09, National Public Radio:
Not only did Tommy Gillespie (Arts in Washington) beat stiff competition for an internship with National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," but he was on the air within his first week of work. Gillespie's internship consisted of booking guests, compiling background material for host interviews, and logging and transcribing audio. He worked on long term project that followed a New Jersey man who had served 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit, and reported on a water shortage in his home state of Kentucky for NPR's Intern Edition. His reward for his hard work was an offer from NPR to stay on for the summer to deepen his knowledge of radio journalism.

Amy Konigsburg ‘07, Red Dirt Studios: As an apprentice to artist Margaret Boozer at Red Dirt Studios, Amy Konigsburg learned how to get her hands dirty. From cutting metal to shaping clay and firing kilns, Konigsburg dove in to all the responsibilities that her internship required. Her hands-on work brought her in contact with gallery curators and dealers who have become great career contacts and resources. Konigsburg continued her work with Boozer during the summer while looking for additional opportunities in the Washington arts scene for the fall.

"Because of my experience [with W&M in Washington] I am entirely engaged in the Gateway Arts District community. I know a lot of artists exhibiting in the area and see familiar faces at openings," Konigsburg said. "This allows me an ‘in' with the arts scene that without this internship I would not have . . . at least not yet."

Ryan Powers ‘08, Center for American Progress: Ryan Powers worked as a research assistant and writer for the progressive political weblog, Think Progress, which is run by the Center for American Progress. Powers also helped to produce The Progress Report, a daily email newsletter about current events and policy initiatives. After a semester where he published numerous pieces for both the weblog and the newsletter, Powers accepted a summer position with the Center for American Progress as well.

For photos of the students, and more of their stories, visit the program Web site at http://www.wm.edu/sites/wmindc/alumni/index.php.