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Journalism graduate hits presidential campaign trail

For many journalism graduates, the summer means a stint in a fast food restaurant to pay the bills while organising work experience in the hope of landing that all-important first job.

Nottingham Trent University broadcast graduate Zoe Curtis, left, found an alternative way to boost her CV after she secured a place on a political journalism summer programme at Georgetown University, in Washington DC.

While there, the 23-year-old from Thame worked for WAMU 88.5 News Radio and found herself covering the politics of America’s capital as the race to be crowned the Democratic candidate in the next US presidential election gathered momentum. Here, she tells HoldtheFrontPage about her experiences.

The opportunity to work in Washington D.C., arguably the political epicentre of the world, bore out of a desire to combine my love for travelling with working in a foreign newsroom.

I had already spent a summer working in a radio station in Ghana but was now hungry for the fast-paced world of American politics.

My internship was part of a summer programme at Georgetown University where I took evening classes in philosophy, ethics and economics, as well as working full time at WAMU 88.5 News Radio.

I applied for the programme myself and undertook a long-winded process of sending samples of my work, writing essays on sociological and political issues and obtaining references.

I had no idea what to expect before arriving in Washington but what followed was to be two of the most enjoyable months of my life, filled with gruelling hard work, pitching ideas, taking examinations and writing papers.

But as well the physical activity of what I did, were the emotional insights into a country of deep contrasts with the desperately poor and absurdly rich. Capitalism was brutally exposed for all its glories and all its failures.

When my news editor gave me the brief of youth voting in the US elections, I subsequently decided to focus on the uneducated youth and examined how the predominantly black and Latino youth of Washington felt under-represented by the present government.

I attended rallies and hip hop events with artists’ lyrics condemning American poverty, the health system and education. Comparing this with chasing Senators around Capitol Hill, ensured that I was getting the work versatility I had always craved.

I was very lucky to be given the editorial freedom to create my own features on stories I felt passionate about and script and narrate them myself.

This experience certainly offered me a lot more than making cups of coffee.


Gillian Emans (11/11/2008 15:59:38)
Zoe’s story sounds very interesting and it’s good to hear about such commitment to obtaining a job in her chosen field from modern youth, who often feel that interesting, well paid jobs should just fall into their laps! Good luck in your quest Zoe!