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Encounters of the Political Kind

Encounters of the Political Kind

May 25
Washington, D.C.

Spring term may technically be over, but Washington Term students are still going strong. We are kicking off our fifth of six weeks on this beautiful Memorial Day.

Friends who took standard four-week spring term courses have asked me why I chose to take a six-week course. To them, I say that I wouldn’t trade six weeks in Washington, D.C. for anything. Most of us have only recently hit our stride, and I don’t think any of us could imagine ending our internships already. In fact, I’ve loved my internship so much that I’ve decided to extend my time at the Weekly Standard for two additional weeks beyond Wash Term. There is just no way to have a full internship experience in only four weeks.

In those final two weeks of my internship, after everyone heads home, I’ll definitely miss the friends I’ve made during spring term. Although I didn’t know many of my classmates well before being selected for Wash Term, I’ve really enjoyed bonding with everyone over dinners out, movie nights in, metro rides to and from talks, and—one of my personal favorites—our trip to the Newseum this past Friday.

It’s hard to believe that we’ll soon part ways but, for now, I’ve got to push that thought to the back of my mind because this is the week we have to hunker down and finish our term papers. Once my paper is done, I’ll be able to look forward to our visit to the Brookings Institute, where Jonathan Rauch will speak to our class. Those of us who have taken other courses with Professor Connelly have read Mr. Rauch’s work before, so we are excited to have the opportunity to see him in person.

Speaking of “in person,” we’ve had some great encounters over the past two weeks: some of us saw Ralph Nader at his book signing the other day, and I sat two tables over from Thomas Friedman while out to lunch with the Weekly Standard’s Vic Matus and Daniel Halper. With so many people and things to do, it’s easy to forget that D.C. is actually a fairly small city—you never know who you’ll run into!

Washington Term Students with Ralph Nader

As for my own internship, I’m still relishing all the hands-on experience I’m getting. Last week, I offered to help Managing Editor Claudia Anderson copy edit the final galleys on press night. Although she was hesitant to allow me to do so at first, I managed to find two mistakes on what she said were near-perfect galleys, and since then, she has asked for my help on other occasions. Earning her trust gave me a great feeling and finding the mistakes made me feel like I was contributing to the publication in a significant way.

I have also felt this way about the research I’ve been doing for some of the staff writers; it’s a great feeling to read their final pieces and know exactly where they found their statistics and facts. Often, writers will go out of their way to thank me for my help, which is especially rewarding. Not only am I enjoying the work but these experiences are teaching me a lot about political journalism, my interests, and myself. I now have a clearer vision of my career aspirations, and as I continue to learn from the Standard staff, I am looking forward to writing a piece or two for the Standard’s blog in the coming weeks.

Although I still have four more weeks of my internship, this is my last blog post for W&L’s spring term blog. I sign off with a few final words: No matter what your major, I highly recommend participating in Washington Term. Our nation’s capital is an exciting place to be, and you’ll learn so much about politics and working in the real world.


Going Native in the District

May 9
Washington, D.C.

Greetings from the car! I’m writing this as I say goodbye to the Capitol for a few days to attend this weekend’s biggest political event: Washington and Lee Mock Convention’s Spring Kick Off.

With two weeks of internship experience under my belt, it’s exciting to head back to Lextropolis. I’ve been thinking a lot about just how much I have already learned about political journalism since I last set foot on campus. I know that my classmates feel the same way about their respective internships; many of us quickly went “native,” as Professor Connelly puts it, meaning that we have adopted the perspectives that dominate our offices.

This enthusiasm for our work created (and I can imagine will continue to create!) a unique energy in the classroom. Last Friday, we were all eager to share our experiences. Since we each work in offices with different political orientations, our classroom feels like a microcosm of Washington. We’re interning with lobbyists, journalists, organization members, and Hill staffers but we’re united by our desire to learn from each other. Now I can see why, as my class has been told on multiple occasions, first-hand experience is so essential to learning.

I admit that I went native almost immediately. It was hard not to with a staff as open, embracing, and supportive as the one at the Weekly Standard. Not only has almost everyone there reached out to me to give me advice to maximize my internship experience and to get to know me, but they have also given me numerous opportunities. Since I arrived, I have helped at an event at which Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal spoke, met Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and sat in on an interview with feminist author Christina Hoff Sommers. I’ve also visited the One America News station twice to see how a show is broadcast and to watch Weekly Standard Assistant Editor Jim Swift commentate. This is on top of learning to properly copy edit articles, research, and fact check. I’ve even been encouraged to begin working on some pieces. There’s the potential to get something published by the end of my internship.

Although most of my day is spent at the office, I’ve also really enjoyed bonding with my classmates over the past two weeks. After hearing the Honorable Mark Kennedy speak at George Washington University last Friday, we all migrated to Georgetown to celebrate the end of our first week with Baked & Wired cupcakes (way better than the hyped up Georgetown Cupcakes!). Later in the week, we got together to watch a movie and celebrate Pacqui Toscano’s birthday. We’ve also done a lot of sightseeing. On Saturday, a group of us took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked all around the city in search of frozen yogurt (somehow we managed to pick the two places that were closed on a Saturday!). On Monday night, Callie Ramsey and I crossed a D.C. goal off our bucket list by going for a night-time run around the monuments.

In a nutshell, we’ve had a very fast, full, and fulfilling two weeks and are now geared up for the next four!


First Day on the Job

April 28
Washington, D.C.

Loading up my car Sunday morning to head to Washington felt surreal. When I landed my internship at The Weekly Standard back in December, I felt like it would be an eternity before I would be slipping into my professional attire and riding the Metro to my office each day. Yet here I was, car packed to the brim and ready to take on my dream internship in the heart of the nation’s bustling capital.

Luckily, I had a fellow Washington Term student with me for the sunny ride to D.C. Our lighthearted conversations soothed any nerves I had and replaced them with an insatiable excitement for the experiences that awaited me. I knew that I was not only going to have an incredible, hands-on experience in the office, but I was also going to be surrounded and supported by a great group of peers.

There are 16 of us participating in the Washington Term program. We live together, attend classes led by Prof. Connelly and intern at locations all over the District. After move-in, we all gathered together for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen. What better way to bond than over the fast food that’s missing from Lexington? Only W&L students know how true this is — we can fully appreciate a Chipotle and Starbucks next door to each other.


My roommates and I decided to call it an early night so we would be refreshed and ready to start our internships in the morning. I was relieved to find that I had less trouble navigating the Metro than I had anticipated; in fact, I had 30 minutes to spare, which gave me just enough time to grab a cup of Peet’s Coffee and compose myself before finally getting to meet my boss.

When I entered the office, I was greeted by warm smiles and a wholehearted series of “welcomes” that immediately made me feel at home. Within my first 30 minutes, I met almost the entire staff — including magazine founder and legend Bill Kristol — and was invited to attend the weekly editorial meeting, which allowed me to quickly pick up on the dynamic in the office. As a loyal reader of The Weekly Standard, it was even more amazing for me to be able to hear writers toss around ideas that would eventually become the articles I’m accustomed to reading. This made me even more excited about the editorial work I’ll get to do in the near future, before the staff closes out each weekly issue.

I was struck by the deep sense of camaraderie at The Weekly Standard. Not only did staff members treat each other respectfully, but they extended that same respect to me by happily showing me the ropes and answering my questions. A group of them even took me out to lunch so that they could get to know me better.

Overall, this was a wonderful first day and a great indication of what the rest of the summer will be like. I cannot wait to see what’s to come!

About Alexandra Seymour

Alexandra Seymour is a rising junior, double majoring in politics and journalism and minoring in environmental studies. At Washington and Lee, she is the Arts and Life section editor for the Ring-Tum Phi, a justice for the Student Judicial Council, the state chair of Maryland for Mock Convention, an anchor for the Rockbridge Report, and a member of the dance company and the all-female a cappella group, JubiLee. Alexandra hopes to be a political journalist and to explore public service later in life. During Washington Term, she’ll be interning at The Weekly Standard.

  • Class Year: 2017
  • Majors: Politics and Journalism
  • Minor: Environmental Studies
  • Hometown: Trenton, N.J.
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