As a Media Studies major, I had always been interested in the news, but desired a deeper understanding of political processes. When I heard about USF in DC, I jumped at the opportunity to participate to broaden the scope of my education at USF. Through the program, I gained experience and critical insight to our political system through working, studying and living in our nation’s capitol.
USF in DC is unique since it requires students to work a full-time internship while attending politically oriented classes. For my internship, I worked as a video production intern for the progressive think tank, The Center for American Progress. Since the video department only consisted of two full time employees, I had many individual responsibilities including producing and editing short explainer videos, recording and livestreaming events and guest lecturers at the center, and transcribing audio for our short documentary pieces.
Each week on my day off from work, I attended three classes that focused on political journalism, research, and professional writing. Since the classes dealt with current news headlines and happenings, they often analyzed the subjects I produced videos on for The Center for American Progress. While studying and working in politics concurrently was intense, the combination of theory and praxis gave me a dynamic understanding of how our government operates.
Even outside of my internship and classes, politics dominated most conversations I had in DC. It was exciting living in an environment where everyone was politically savvy and hyperaware of current events. I was always extra motivated to be on top of the latest news in order to join in on conversations and jokes in the student lounge area of the UCDC building and at happy hour after work. These conversations were interesting since, compared to San Franciscans, DCers had a wide range of political viewpoints. Not only did I learn how to navigate conversations with people of differing opinions, but I also learned to be a better listener and learn from those with alternative perspectives.
When I reflect on my time in the USF in DC program, it amazes me how much I experienced in just four months. The skills I gained in DC have carried over into places that I least expected. For example, the professional writing skills I honed in DC improved my overall communication ability and enabled me to excel in my next position as a marketing intern. Additionally, the political knowledge I gained in the program added depth and meaning to course work in my major upon returning to USF. In my media theory classes, I often make connections between the media and politics and am able to share unique insights and anecdotes during class discussions.