You’ve probably heard the saying: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. We think the what you know is incredibly important, but a network of who you know – professionals to grab a cup of coffee with or pick their brain – is invaluable as you map your future.
William & Mary students recognize that internships are a way to explore career options and develop their skills through practical work experience. For students with their sights set on a professional career in our nation’s capitol, there’s the Washington Center.
Nestled in the heart of D.C., the Center supports faculty, staff and student initiatives and facilitates access to resources in the area. Kayla Sharpe, a film and media studies major with a minor in American studies, has spent the past two summers chasing her dream of telling the stories that are waiting to be told in Washington.
Sharpe has designed a college experience that focuses on communications and journalism by immersing herself in related extracurricular activities. Aside from getting involved on campus, Sharpe says that some of the most valuable experiences she has gained have come from exploring and networking with the alumni base made accessible to her through the Washington Center.
“There are alumni working everywhere from C-SPAN to Discovery to PBS to the FBI,” says Sharpe. “Whether we are in the newsroom with them or just getting the opportunity to meet them in passing, having the opportunity to learn how they managed to get into their field and what insight and advice they have to offer is a major resource.”
Sharpe had the opportunity to be mentored by Paula Reid, alumna and legal journalist for CBS News, and got to see first-hand what a day on the job is like. She got to see what skills Reid was utilizing and experience what it’s like in the studio versus in the field. The Washington Center staff also helped pair Sharpe with a former Flat Hat editor-and-chief who is now a reporter for POLITICO.
Sharpe recounts the opportunity to get out of the classroom and be out in the city — networking and making valuable connections — as an experience like none other. She credits the insight gained with the help of the Washington Center as the thing that helped her hone in on what she wants to focus on in her professional career.