Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor
I was an intern in 1964, the second year of The Washington Post summer internship program. Another intern that year was Bob Kaiser, who was back for his second summer. We were both on the city staff and found ourselves competing to get the most stories on the front page, which was easier then, with an eight-column front page and a much smaller reporting staff. We wound up tied at the end of the summer.
We were offered, and accepted, full-time jobs at The Post, the first of dozens of summer interns who have stayed at or returned to The Post newsroom during their careers. As a native Ohioan and graduate of a public university, Ohio State, I would have had no chance, without that internship, of being hired out of college into what was then a mostly Ivy League-filled Post newsroom.
I worked for many years as a local investigative reporter before becoming an editor on the city desk. I was deputy metro editor during the Watergate coverage, which I helped edit. I later became assistant managing editor for metro news, London correspondent, national news editor and managing editor before succeeding Ben Bradlee as executive editor in 1991. For the next seven years, Bob Kaiser, my summer intern rival, was managing editor. As executive editor for 17 years, I valued the summer internship program more than ever as a source of exceptional talent for our news staff.
Krissah Thompson, managing editor of diversity and inclusion
I was an intern in 2001, which would prove to be a fateful year in Washington. The economy was slumping and our intern class was nervous. The Post, like much of the industry, was in the middle of a hiring pause. I had applied to intern on the Financial desk and got busy writing about small businesses, personal finance, company quarterly reports and later helping on the banking beat. As interns, we were very busy filling in for staffers on vacation.
The program flew by, and before we knew it the summer was over. I had received and accepted a fellowship to receive my master’s degree at the University of Maryland. I did not expect to be offered a full-time role at The Post. After all, there was hiring pause! When I was invited to extend my internship, I was glad to continue writing for the Business section while studying and then to return to The Post as a staff writer. I was in the newsroom in the days following the Sept. 11 attacks and when anthrax powder began mysteriously appearing in letters across town and when tornadoes tore through an area nearby. I contributed to many big stories and watched in awe as the newsroom came together to produce impactful journalism.
I worked several more year on the Business staff and later covered voters during a presidential campaign, traveling the country to talk to Americans about candidates, politics and policy. For years, I also wrote about the East Wing of the White House and interviewed two first ladies. I joined our Style staff and covered race, culture and various other topics before becoming an editor. In 2020, I was named a managing editor and will always find welcoming a new class of summer interns thrilling.
David Fahrenthold, national reporter
I was an intern in 2000, covering the District for the Local staff. I got a lucky break: The D.C. Council beat reporter had just shifted to another job that summer, so I got to cover the Council during its normally sleepy summer sessions. Then I got even luckier, in that the Council chose that summer to pick a fight with the Catholic Church over insurance coverage for contraception — giving me a chance to cover a news story with national resonance. After the summer, I was asked to stay on and take a job on Local’s nightside, covering breaking news from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. It was the start of a journalism career that has allowed me to fulfill two childhood dreams: 1. Getting paid to solve mysteries, and 2. Never having to be anyone’s boss.
In all, I spent six years in Local, covering the nightside shift, then the D.C. police beat, and then the Chesapeake Bay. Then I moved to National, where I’ve been able to cover all kinds of fascinating beats: New England, the environment, government waste, Congress, presidential elections. Since 2016, I’ve been covering Donald Trump’s money. I wrote about his charitable giving in 2016, and I’ve written about his business dealings since then. This year, that beat has taken me back to my police-reporting roots, as the Trump Organization faces investigations and indictments in New York.
Recent intern classes
We are thrilled to welcome a full Washington Post intern class for 2021, after a limited program in 2020. And while the lingering impact of the pandemic means that we won’t all be together in our newsroom, we know that this class will be even more intrepid and nimble by virtue of having endured the past year. This group includes 29 outstanding students from across the country. It also includes The Post’s inaugural Military Veteran in Journalism fellow, Max Hauptman. The interns come from 21 colleges and universities and represent disciplines including reporting, video, audio, photography, editing and audience. They are immediately part of The Washington Post family; they are also part of The Post’s future.
Meet the 2021 Interns ArrowRight