Patience, persistence pay for interns in Washington, D.C.

June 19, 2015

(Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of stories about College of Communications students completing summer internships.)

Progress takes time in the nation’s capital, and patience matters. At least one Penn State student relied on that approach as he worked to secure a summer internship in Washington, D.C., and his willingness to wait worked.

Scott Nulty, junior advertising/public relations major from West Chester, Pennsylvania, was selected six months ago for the Penn State Washington Program. Between acceptance and the beginning of summer internships, the on-site program director for the College of Communications works to pair interns with potential internship sites. Every student in the program is guaranteed an internship offer.

Nulty turned down his first offer, though, and even a second.

“I knew Penn State had done its job and helped connect me with some good options, but I was holding out because I wanted to work in a congressional office,” Nulty said. “The public relations firm and lobbying firm were interesting, and would’ve been great experiences. Still, I took a chance, and my parents encouraged me to follow my heart.”

Nulty said he’s not a gambler by nature, but his patience paid off.

He and fellow Penn Stater Scott Susanin, senior adverting/public relations major from Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, have been completing internships with U.S. Rep. Glenn Thompson for the past several weeks. They work in the Cannon House Office Building, adjacent to the U.S. Capitol, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, staying longer on days of House of Representatives votes.

Thompson’s staff integrated the two students immediately.

“I’ve always been interested in politics and the way the government works, and I really wanted to see firsthand how a congressional office works. Being in the office for a few weeks, it’s a little more casual than I thought it would be, which is really nice,” Nulty said. “It’s a dedicated and hard-working group, but it’s not uptight.”

Susanin and Nulty commute about 15 to 25 minutes a day on the Metro from Pentagon City to Capitol Hill for work. Like Nulty, Susanin’s process required patience. He applied for the Washington Program last October and found out about his assignment after Easter.

“I wanted to be crisis communications at first, with sort of a political angle, and after I met the chief of staff for 'GT' (Thompson), it felt like a great opportunity,” Susanin said. “That’s been the case. We’re doing a little bit of everything, from taking notes at hearings and reporting back main ideas to helping with legislative and communications issues.

“It’s actually more work than I thought it would be. My idea of an internship was that they’d have us folding letters or doing little things around the office. They give us a lot of real work. It’s great to be valued and it drives you to do well.”

Nearly 600 Penn State communications students complete for-credit internships each year. As members of the Washington Program, which celebrates its 20-year milestone in 2015, Nulty and Susanin appreciate the impact an internship can have on their careers.

“I’m still getting used to the fact that I’m walking around the Capitol,” Nulty said. “It’s a great experience, and a chance to prove myself.”

Thompson’s staff has committed to providing variety in the internship experience, with Nulty and Susanin both working within the office’s communications and legislative divisions at different times this summer. The students appreciate that, and Susanin specifically hopes to transfer some of what he learned on campus at Penn State to the internship.

“What I hope to eventually do is write a couple of speeches for GT when he’s on the House floor, just something short,” Susanin said. “As part of my communications class, we had to write and present speeches. I enjoy writing and articulating thoughts in an organized manner, so getting a chance to do that in this setting would be great.”

  • Glenn Thompson interns

    Scott Nulty (left) and Scott Susanin

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated June 29, 2015