Weldon Cooper: Communications and Media Internship


The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at University of Virginia works to improve governance and community life throughout Virginia through applied research, leadership development, and direct partnerships with communities and organizations across the state. The Center’s values include access, collaboration, community, and impact – all of which require a robust and multi-faceted communications strategy.  


Michael Phillips, Associate Director of the Weldon Cooper Center, and Claire Downey, Digital Media Manager 


The interns will work with the Communications and Media team to tell the stories of what the Weldon Cooper Center does to create awareness and accessibility to the public. The Center’s in-house Media Team makes video, audio, photo, and infographic content to help promote and tell stories of the impact of the Cooper Center’s different departments. The team manages four Cooper Center wide social media channels on LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. They create videos that go on to the Weldon Cooper Youtube Channel that tell stories of impact or describe the work that the Cooper Center does. The media team also created a podcast entitled Intersections in Public Service that hosts various people involved with the Cooper Center to talk about how the work they do relates to public service goals and ideas.  


This internship will prepare interns for careers in any of the following: 

  • Communication, Outreach, and Publishing 
  • Digital Media 
  • Project Management 
  • Social Media Management 
  • Marketing 


This internship will provide experiences to develop and polish the following skills: 

  • Communication to diverse audience 
  • Interdisciplinary team collaboration 
  • Problem-solving and analytical 
  • Project management and leadership 
  • Self and career management 
  • Thought leadership and innovation 
  • Marketing 


The interns will contribute to a broad creation of content including social media posts, newsletters, websites, podcasts, and videos. Interns will be invited to participate in communications strategy meetings to help shape Center's priorities in this area. They will be given a topic and a client with whom to make a project. The client will be one of the public service units here at the Cooper Center. They would participate in content strategy meetings to identify audiences, establish a message, and plan content creation. Then they will draft an action plan for said media content addressing the messages and audiences identified in the content strategy meeting. Interns may be asked to travel with the media team for social media event coverage if circumstances are deemed safe under UVA guidelines during the pandemic. 


Larry Terry, Executive Director of the Cooper Center will collaborate with Claire Downey the Media Team Manager to mentor the interns in high level attention to effective and strategic communications, resulting in learning associated with how communications are prioritized, developed, and sustained; how audiences for different types of communications are identified; and low-cost, specific strategies for effective communications about all aspects of our work. This mentoring will be grounded in theories of public administration and organizational management. Claire Downey will mentor the interns in the production of communications through the media team. The goals of this part of the mentorship would be to facilitate initial meetings and communication with other departments – who are our “clients”, organize content strategy and teach how to develop it through content strategy meetings, and assist with overall project management, a process the intern will be expected to learn and oversee. She will also provide mentorship on the use of media editing software or use of media equipment if needed. This internship is often fast-paced, dynamic, team oriented, and flexible due to remote work. 


The Communications and Media team is open to students from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds. A broad understanding of any of the following is desired  

  • Communication  
  • Social Media  
  • Digital media  
  • Working with nonprofits  
  • Writing and journalism  
  • Project management 


In order to meet the goals outlined above, this internship may span multiple terms. The department will work with the student on setting a weekly schedule that is mutually agreed upon and meets the PhD+ internship expectation of up to 200 hours per semester.  


PhD+ interns will be paid bi-weekly wages up to $5000 per semester ($25 per hour for 200 hours per semester). 

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