Written by Joe Starrs – Director, Institute on Political Journalism
When Gabriella Ciuffetelli wrapped up her junior year at Hofstra University and drove down to Washington, D.C. to begin her internship at The Washington Examiner newspaper, she didn’t know what to expect. She hoped to get some experience reporting, but knew that interns need to prove themselves before getting their work published. As she walked into the newsroom for the first time, little did she realize how much hands on experience she would get. In 8 weeks she wrote over 30 articles, all with bylines-averaging 3-4 articles a week.
She was able to cover federal agencies like the labor department, the IRS, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Justice Department. She also wrote about the Presidential campaigns, legislation on Capitol Hill, and the mass shooting in Orlando Florida.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING OR INTERESTING ARTICLE YOU WROTE?
“The most interesting article I wrote this summer was about an HHS Inspector General report which found that human error had put millions of dollars of CDC property at risk. It was the first time I’d ever read through one of those reports, and while it was challenging at first, it really did open my eyes to the world of agency oversight. The article was actually one of the first ones I had written at my internship, and it ended up being one of the trending pieces on the Washington Examiner’s site for a couple of days that week, which certainly added to the experience!”
IS THERE ONE EVENT OR STORY THAT STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND?
“I think the most memorable event at my internship was the day after the DNC was hacked. Over the course of the summer I played a big part in helping compile the first and last names of every delegate being sent to the national conventions. This involved calling state party leadership for both the democratic and republican parties. After the DNC information was published on WikiLeaks, we discovered that there had been number of emails sent from he national leadership to the state parties instructing them not to cooperate with or release delegates’ names to us. We got the project done in the end, and it looked great, but that moment made me realize just how connected I really was to national politics while working in DC- even as an intern!”
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A STUDENT CONSIDERING IPJ?
“The best advice I could give to anyone considering IPJ is not to be nervous! Spending the summer away is one of the most exciting and rewarding decisions you can make, and you’re in great hands with the TFAS staff. So don’t worry about whether or not you’ll make friends, or if your classes will be stressful, or if you’ll have trouble during your internship. The staff at TFAS, the professors at George Mason, the friends you’ll make, and your internship supervisors are there to help you! They’ll do so every step of the way, and will end up becoming some of your biggest resources for the summer, and for life.”
For more information on our programs, please visit www.DCinternships.org.