SMPA Intern Diaries

Myles Goldman, PCM '15, at Sage Communications

I have Metro’s Silver Line to thank for my public relations internship at Sage Communications.

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Intersection of Media and Government

I arrived for my first day as an intern in the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice amidst a flurry of activity, phone calls, and media arrivals.

Intern Diary: Kevin Frey at Cox Media Group

During the summer of 2014, I had the incredible chance to intern in the D.C. Bureau for Cox Media Group.  Now the first thing you may ask is, “What’s Cox?”  Good question.

Internship Program

Internships are an integral part of learning at the School of Media and Public Affairs. Students gain valuable firsthand experience and learn new skills by working with news organizations, federal agencies, lobbying and political firms, digital media companies, advocacy groups and congressional press offices. We provide access to dozens of listings through our exclusive internship database. Often, internships lead to full-time jobs after graduation.

Credit for internships is available for juniors and seniors majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and Political Communication, as well as minors in journalism. To gain credit, students must apply for an internship appropriate to his or her major (or minor) field of study. Two forms need to be filled out and left with the SMPA Secretary at MPA Suite 400: the Application to Receive Internship Credit and the Registration Transaction Form. DO NOT USE THE EZ FORM FOR INTERNSHIPS - USE THE RTF (the second one on the page).

JMC and PCM students must register for three credit hours per internship. Students who entered the major prior to fall, 2015 may count up to 6 credits of internship toward their major requirements. Students entering the major in the fall of 2015 or later, and all minors, may count only 3 credits of internship toward their SMPA major or minor requirements. Any additional internships in SMPA (up to 6 credits) would count toward the 120 credits needed for graduation, but would not fulfill a major requirement. 

The Assistant Director of SMPA, Dr. Patricia Phalen, will consider the internship application and, if it is approved, assign a faculty adviser. The deadline to apply for internship credit for Summer 2017 was Sunday, May 15th.

Each student must meet with their assigned faculty adviser to complete a learning contract, which lays out reading assignments and a final project to be written or produced before the end of the semester. Students must also complete a Memorandum of Agreement with the sponsor of the internship, who will pledge that work done during the internship will teach the student valuable skills. Internships are graded as pass/fail. If needed, students may meet with the Assistant Director to ask questions during the process.

Employers who wish to list their internships with SMPA may email a text-only job description to We ask that employers first read these guidelines before sending job descriptions to us.

Please be aware that students registering for credit to do summer internships will be charged summer tuition for the 3 credits. This tuition is independent of the tuition charges for the fall and spring semesters.

Journalism and Mass Communication Internship Requirements

Journalism internships may be served at news organizations or with groups or organizations that routinely communicate to a wide audience using online tools like social media sites. Each internship must be approved in advance by the Assistant Director. All JMC internships will earn three credits (roughly 15 hours per week).

The work required to complete the Internship involves not only the hours at the internship site, but a research component as well.  For example, a faculty adviser might assign three books or their equivalent to help the student prepare for writing a final project due before the end of the semester. Final projects could be a news feature about the sponsoring organization, a video package or a research paper. The subject will be discussed and decided on in consultation with the faculty adviser. Final projects are due on the last day of class.

Students and advisers should meet at least twice over the semester for a discussion about how the internship and final project are progressing. Advisers might require students to submit a synopsis of their research at mid-semester.

Political Communication Internship Requirements

Political Communication majors may be approved for internships with advocacy groups, news organizations, congressional offices or public relations and political consulting firms. All internships will be for three credits (about 15 hours weekly).

The work required to complete the Internship involves not only the hours at the internship site, but a research component as well.  For example, students could write a daily or weekly journal of their observations and activities at the internship, read three scholarly books approved by the faculty adviser and write a 10-12 page paper that combines the internship experience with concepts from the readings. The research component will be discussed and decided on in consultation with the faculty adviser.  Papers and journals are due on the last day of class.

Students will meet with the faculty advisor at least twice during the semester to discuss progress with the internship and the final paper.

GW Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund

Knowledge in Action Career Fund

Made possible through the generous support of alumni and parents, this highly competitive program provides grants ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 to GW undergraduate and graduate students pursuing internships that are necessarily unpaid.  Necessarily unpaid internships are typically those with non-profit, governmental, educational, and non-governmental organizations that genuinely lack the financial resources to pay salaries or wages to their interns. Learn more and apply.

Previous Internships

Journalism and Mass Communication

  • American Pavilion Cannes Business Program
  • CBS News
  • CCTV-America
  • Cumulus Media
  • Fifty-Two Thursdays
  • House of Representatives - Office of Lee Zeldin
  • Keybridge Communication
  • NBC News
  • NBC News Washington
  • NBC Universal - Meet The Press
  • New America
  • Newseum
  • Nine Network Australia
  • Picture Motion
  • Republican Governors Association
  • The Mansion on O Street
  • Tokyo broadcasting Systems
  • Voice of America
  • Washington City Paper
  • WUSA9

Political Communication

  • 1st Amendment Partnership 
  • AARP
  • ABC News
  • American Planning Association
  • Burson-Marsteller
  • Democratic National Committee
  • Financial Services Roundtable
  • Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • House Republican Conference
  • Marco Rubio for President
  • McCarthy Hennings Whalen, Inc.
  • Meet Out
  • Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)
  • Oceana - Digital Media Team
  • Office of Congressman Marc Veasey
  • PBS To The Contrary
  • Precision Strategies
  • SweetGreen
  • Swiftkurrent: DC
  • The Incite Agency
  • The Smithsonian Associates
  • The White House -- Office of Digital Strategy