JMC student discusses White House internship

Submitted photo.

Submitted photo.

Blair Donald

Most students at Kent State need to complete an internship by the time they graduate. But most students are not able to land an internship at a globally recognizable establishment, unlike Becky Dickson.

Dickson, a senior visual journalism major, is about to finish a photo office internship in the White House.

“I’ve always been a politics junkie,” Dickson said in an email. “I’m passionate about my beliefs, and I truly think that if you want a say in what our government does, you need to vote and participate in the process. I applied for the White House Internship Program because I thought it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Dickson is currently enrolled in the Washington Program in National Issues, an experience program in which students spend the semester in Washington, D.C. The program requires that all students enrolled complete an internship during the semester.

Dickson said she applied for an internship at several locations in D.C. but that getting one in the White House was a surprise.

“After I was accepted into the Washington Program in National Issues through the political science department, I thought about places I would want to intern,” she said. “I applied to The White House in mid-August, but I never thought I would be interviewed and accepted.”

Dickson’s main responsibilities include toning photos, drafting photo captions and answering the phone in the photo department’s main office.

She also sometimes shadows photographers and goes with them to President Barack Obama’s open press events.

One of Dickson’s former professors, Jan Leach associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, recommended Dickson for the program. She said Dickson “was really perfect for [the program].”

“I had Becky in ethics class,” Leach said. “She stayed in touch after, and I knew she was applying, and I recommend students for the program so of course I recommended her. I think the main thing is for students to be a real self-starter.

“For other programs, I recommend students on the basis of having excellent communications and writing skills, but this program is different,” Leach said. “You can land in Washington and be completely lost and miserable, or you can land in Washington and take it all in, enjoy it for what it has to offer and give something back. So for this program, a self-starter is always who I’m looking for.”

Dickson said the experience has made her want to change her career path and make it more public-service oriented.

“Interning at the White House has somewhat altered my view of what I want my career path to be,” Dickson said. “I still want to be a graphic designer, but I want to work for a non-profit or in the government at a place that is more interested in helping people than boosting their bank accounts. For me, this internship has reaffirmed my belief that the government does work for the people. There’s a lot of work done behind the scenes and small pieces of progress that don’t make headlines but do make a difference. ”

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].