Internship Site Spotlight: Capital Semester

Capital Semester, held each fall and spring semester, provides students from all over the country with the opportunity to spend an entire semester in Washington, interning with public policy groups, think tanks, government agencies, media outlets, international affairs organizations, communications firms and nonprofit organizations. Here we profile two sites that are currently hosting students participating in the Spring 2011 Capital Semester program.

The Houston Chronicle

Gabriella Ferrari, a sophomore from New Mexico State University, and Heather Caygle, a senior at the University of Alabama are current participants in the political journalism track of Capital Semester. They are both interning with The Houston Chronicle, the largest daily newspaper in Texas. Owned by the Hearst Corporation, it is also the ninth largest paper in circulation within the United States. 

Gabriella describes her internship as providing her with “real journalism experience covering committee meetings, hearings and press conferences on all aspects of our government. I produce content for any of the 14 newspapers and four political websites – from reporting and photography to managing interactive data and social media.” 

The most memorable event to date was the opportunity to attend President Obama’s second State of the Union address. Heather and Gabriella sat in the first row of the press gallery directly behind the President. Heather says, “It was an indescribable experience being in the House chamber, sitting amongst some of the best journalists in the world and reporting on the most influential leaders in our country.  Afterward, I went to historic Statuary Hall to interview members of Congress about their reactions to the address. The scene was chaotic. News cameras for CNN, Fox News and other organizations were placed around the room and reporters were swarming, looking for the Congressman they needed a quote from. Being able to attend the State of the Union was a once in a lifetime experience and I will never forget it.”

Public Affairs Council

Participating in Capital Semester’s public policy track, Bechara Azar, is a graduating senior from Sciences Po in Paris. This spring he is interning at the Public Affairs Council, the leading international association for public affairs professionals. As an intern, Bechara updates the website, helps to manage their database and conducts ad-hoc research assignments.

When asked about his experience at PAC, Bechara said, “Interning here in Washington, DC is one of the best experiences I have ever had; I am lucky to be at the Public Affairs Council whose mission is to advance the field of public affairs and to provide members with the training and information resources they need to achieve success while maintaining the highest ethical standards. The Council provided me with the opportunity to fully comprehend U.S. domestic policies and practices. I am also impressed by the PAC staff; I have never worked with such a positive team.”    

Here is a sample of the other internship sites that students are placed with through the Capital Semester program:

Atlas Economic Research Foundation
National Association of Petrochemical Refiners
New Leaders for New Schools
WAMU 88.5
U.S. Department of Education
U.S. Department of the Treasury
WTTG Fox News

Further details internship sites may be found at

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