5 Lessons Learned and 1 Piece of Advice to Future TFAS Students From a Journalism + Communications Program Alumnus

One important aspect of an internship is the process of self-discovery. Often, the most impactful part of a student’s TFAS summer is what they learn about themselves.

This summer Jacob Pederson ’20, a junior from Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA was a journalism intern at a dynamic media startup, The Well News.  Jacob had more than a dozen articles published with topics ranging from the environment, Hurricane Hanna, EPA regulations, and COVID-19 policies.

Jacob Pederson ’20

Internship: The Well News

Hometown: Mount Vernon, WA

School: Western Washington University

Three Things I learned About Myself:

  • I enjoy a challenge, whereas before I was intimidated by them. 
  • Given the information, I’m actually good at doing thought experiments about potential policy outcomes. 
  • I’m passionate about politics, and I want to run for office and/or lobby for and draft policies more so than I want to be a journalist for a traditional news source that forces me not to take a side and forbids me from doing activism in my spare time. 

Two Important Things I Learned From My Internship:

  • Journalism is effectively a public service role, and it takes a special person to be able to do it accurately and equitably. 
  • It goes against the flow of who I am to avoid advocating for one side of a controversial topic over the other. I believe in the power and value of facts, but I have a strong tendency to use them to advance and defend what I believe…this is a fundamental characteristic about myself that I cannot seem to set aside, although I retain and embrace the journalistic capacity to listen to and respect both sides of a given political controversy. 

One Piece of Advice for Future TFAS Students:

  • Strike a healthy balance between your internship, classes, and social activities. Do your best not to let one or two aspects of the program dominate your schedule at the expense of bonding with your peers.