When you think of photography, do you think of portraiture? Wildlife photography? Artistic shots? Landscapes? How about the political landscape?
Faith Matthews ’14, Comparative Sociology major, took a semester off from Puget Sound to pursue an internship for credit as a photographer with the Washington State Legislature. Faith’s subjects? Olympia lawmakers in action!
CES: How did you find your internship?
FM: An email sent out by CES listed a variety of different internships. The photography internship was at the very bottom of the email, and I decided to apply.
It was the first internship I ever applied to. It wasn’t paid, it was full time, and I’d have to move to a new city—but I love photography, and I wanted to make it work if at all possible.
CES: What does your role as a Legislative Photography Intern for the House entail?
FM: I photograph action (debates, speeches, voting, etc.) on the House and Senate floors, at committee meetings, and during events (rallies, inaugurations, press conferences); and also group photos around the Capitol campus of members and staff with constituents.
CES: What are you learning at your internship?
FM: As much as I’m learning the technical aspects of photography, I’m learning about how government works—and the people who work within this structure.
Being one of the photographers allows me to go behind the scenes and have access to pretty much all events that go on around the campus. I’m not stuck in one place, or in a little cubicle writing constituent letters like some of the other interns.
CES: How is this internship helping you with your career exploration?
FM: It definitely tests my motivation to be a photographer—but only in this setting.
The legislature never closes during session. It’s an 8-5 workday Monday-Friday with no holidays or closures because of weather. I’m expected to dress work professional which is new and different for me. And all of this can be draining, but
once I get here and start taking photos—and go through the process of capturing moments—then editing them and sending them out, I forget about the uncomfortable shoes and the hours. I feel content and lucky to be here having this experience.
CES: How does pursuing your internship for credit enhance your experience?
FM: Knowing that I still have a small tie to school keeps me grounded and reminds me to critically assess what I’m learning here.
Janet Marcavage, who is my academic advisor for the internship, is a great resource for helping me take advantage of looking at the internship from the outside-in. I check in with her over the phone every couple of weeks and try to journal often. Without doing those two things, this experience would probably fly by without me really taking a second to digest or look back on what I’m doing week by week.
CES: You’re taking a semester off to pursue this internship full-time. What advice would you offer other students who are considering this?
FM: If you’re taking a semester off, then definitely think about where you’re going and how big of a life adjustment you’ll be making.
I’m lucky because Olympia is a nice small city with a great community and it is not very far, or different, from Tacoma. I’m able to come up for a weekend from time to time to see friends and hang out.
Also, since the internship is full time, it really consumes my week—which is mostly okay with me because the work is fulfilling, helpful, appreciated, and I’m doing what I love.
Want a snapshot of a particular career field? Consider an internship! Use CES resources, and meet with CES career advisors to help you focus your search.
© 2013 Career and Employment Services, University of Puget Sound
Photos: Provided by Faith Matthews