It’s intern season at California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting. We’ve been fortunate to have interns year-round. But summer is a special time. New intern blood transfuses our newsroom. Exuberant, wide-eyed youngsters strive to make their mark during short stints as reporters, web producers and copy editors.

Ah, the internship.

My first came 26 years ago at the now-defunct Peninsula Times Tribune, a small, local paper in downtown Palo Alto. I can’t even begin to measure what I learned in those three months.

One of my biggest early influences in the Palo Alto newsroom was Judy Miller, then the young city editor of the Times Tribune. She soon left for the San Francisco Chronicle. Later, she directed two Pulitzer Prize-winning projects at the Miami Herald where she eventually rose to managing editor.

Judy earned the nickname “Bulldog.” And it fit. I’ve never met anyone as tenacious and as relentless. I ran into her at the recent gathering of Investigative Reporters and Editors in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. We reminisced about the old days, and what she meant to my career. She inspired reporters to dig deep and to stop only when you reached the bottom.

Judy has been an important mentor over the years. She’s always been available as a sounding board when I’ve been stuck. And yet, I can’t remember if she said even two words to me during my summer internship.

Her influence went beyond mere words. She taught by example. If you stopped for just a second to watch her in action, you learned a ton. And if you stopped too long, you would likely get a sharp look back, as if to wonder – no, demand – your next front page story.

I could only hope that our interns this summer will find their own mentor or influential figure somewhere among our own accomplished staff – whether it’s one of our superb veterans such as Lance Williams, Susanne Rust, Michael Montgomery, Mark Schapiro, Louis Freedberg or Bob Salladay. Or one of our talented younger guns like Mark Luckie, Erica Perez, Ryan Gabrielson, Christina Jewett, Corey Johnson, G.W. Schulz, Carrie Ching, Andy Becker or Chase Davis.

Every one of us remembers what it was like to be an intern. And we’re all here to help.

And I’m personally thrilled to see all the energy in our newsroom. One of the more unpleasant things I had to do in my last job was call a young college student we had selected for an internship a few weeks earlier to relay the bad news that her internship had been canceled. In a budget crisis, the interns were the first to go.

This summer our interns aren’t exactly getting rich off their paychecks from us. But we are proud that we are offering so many internships at a time when many news organizations are still living without the help of eager college students.

So without further ado, let me introduce our current crop of interns:

Austin Fast is a Dow Jones News Fund copy editing intern with California Watch and assists in producing Politics Verbatim. He is a recent graduate of Miami University (of Ohio) with degrees in journalism and international studies. While in college, Austin produced stories at Miami’s NPR station, served as editor in chief of Miami’s student newspaper and completed an internship with an online news wire service in Pristina, Kosovo.

Mandy Hofmockel is a Dow Jones News Fund web production intern for California Watch and the Center for Investigative Reporting. She is a senior majoring in media studies and political science at Penn State University. Mandy has worked as a reporter, copy editor and web editor for her college newspaper for the past three years. She also spent a summer reporting for her local paper.

Timothy Sandoval is a reporting intern in the Sacramento bureau for California Watch. He has covered the California State University budget crisis, student protests, and general news stories for The State Hornet, CSU Sacramento’s newspaper. Timothy grew up in Los Angeles. He graduated from St. John Bosco High School, and attended Cal Poly Pomona from 2007 to 2009. He currently attends Sacramento State and is set to graduate in 2012.

Alex Brewer is a reporting intern for the Center for Investigative Reporting where he will primarily work with Andy Becker on immigration stories and with the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Alex is the annual Neil Isaacs and Frank Wright Fellow from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn. Next year he will be a junior pursuing a double bachelor’s degree in psychology and cinema media studies. On campus he is also chief content editor for The Lens, Carleton’s bi-yearly society and politics magazine. 

Erin Ferguson is a shared reporting intern for KQED Radio, the Ventura County Star and California Watch, based in Sacramento. Erin mostly will be blogging about the state budget. She is a senior in modern literary studies at UC Santa Cruz. She is part of the internship program coordinated by the University of California public affairs journalism program. It’s a joint venture between UC Center Sacramento and the UC Berkeley graduate school of journalism.

Sarah McHie is the veteran of our intern crew. She started her internship in October with the Center for Investigative Reporting as a web production assistant. Sarah previously was an associate web producer at San Francisco magazine. She is a recent graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana where she obtained a degree in Telecommunications with a concentration in multimedia. 

We expect you’ll be seeing their names a lot this summer and for a long time to come.

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Mark Katches is a past editorial director for The Center for Investigative Reporting. He is currently editor of the Oregonian and vice president of content for the Oregonian Media Group. Previously, he built and ran investigative teams at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Orange County Register. Mark was the primary editor of Pulitzer Prize-winning projects in both 2008 and 2010 and edited or managed five other stories that were Pulitzer finalists. Projects he edited or directed also have won the George Polk Award, the IRE award and the Scripps-Howard National Journalism Award as well as the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Worth Bingham Prize, the Sigma Delta Chi Award and the National Headliner Award. Multiplatform projects produced by CIR staff under Mark's guidance won a national News & Documentary Emmy, two Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, a George Foster Peabody Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award. He has overseen projects or websites that have won four Online Journalism Awards in the last decade, in addition to logging more than a dozen OJA finalists. In 2001, he was part of a reporting team that won the Gerald Loeb and IRE awards for a series of stories detailing the rising profits from the human tissue trade. He completed a Punch Sulzberger Fellowship at Columbia University in 2013 and has taught reporting classes as an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California, UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and Stanford University. Mark served on the board of directors of Investigative Reporters and Editors for four years and oversaw the IRE mentorship program for six years.