Lauren Leatherby MPP 2016 offers an account of her internship at National Public Radio.

November 23, 2015


Second-year Master in Public Policy (MPP) student Lauren Leatherby spent this past summer interning with the political coverage team at the National Public Radio (NPR) headquarters in Washington, DC. In a recent HKS admissions blog post, Lauren describes one particular Friday in June when she headed to the White House to shadow NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith. When she is not reporting, Lauren is concentrating in International and Global Affairs at HKS and serving as the digital managing editor at the Kennedy School Review, a student publication.

The Supreme Court only had a few days left to hand down its decision on same-sex marriage. Maybe this Friday would be the day, I wondered on my walk to the White House, but it was impossible to know what they would do.

At 10 a.m., the time when the Supreme Court releases decisions, NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith and I switched on the television in the NPR press booth, a gear-filled small office in the West Wing of the White House no bigger than a walk-in closet. On the screen, runners holding the just-released decisions sprinted from the court to hand the decisions to the waiting TV reporters. The reporter onscreen unfolded and inspected the document for a few seconds before announcing what it said–same-sex marriage was now legal across the United States.

The White House press corps buzzed with energy. Today was a big day.

An hour later, I sat feet away from President Obama in the Rose Garden as he remarked on the day’s decision. White House staffers crowded the lawn to celebrate the occasion. After Obama ended his remarks and the audience dissipated, the loud whir of Marine One’s helicopter blades drowned out the noise of the remaining onlookers as it landed on the White House lawn. Obama was heading to Charleston, South Carolina, where he would deliver the stirring eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, killed in the Charleston shootings the previous week.

That was just one day at NPR. Over the course of the summer I also got to interview legislators at the Capitol the day after the Iran nuclear deal, pitched and wrote a dozen articles, saw my fair share of presidential candidates, and went to NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts. NPR is a wonderful organization where staffers really take the time to develop interns, and I was thankful to have had a year at HKS before going to NPR.

Especially for people who have had previous journalism training or experience, HKS can provide an incredible thematic education for journalists, especially those who want to report on politics, international affairs, economics, or national security, among other subjects.

I’ve used my quantitative classes in economics, statistics, and finance to apply a greater analytical rigor to the subjects and data I cover as a journalist. My courses in subjects such as cybersecurity and human rights give me a strong framework and context I can use to better cover those subjects in the future. Equally important as my coursework is the time I spend with friends outside of class. I learn daily from my fellow classmates’ incredible depth of experiences and diversity of perspectives. And they’re fun, too!

As I go into my second year of my master’s degree, my fabulous experience at NPR confirmed my desire to work in the media and that HKS was the right choice of degree for the kind of topics I want to cover.