One of the first things I was told coming into my internship was the importance of finding a good mentor (or mentors!) while here in Washington D.C. In a city bustling with nonprofits, government agencies, and politicos, it’s crucial to find a mentor that can connect you with the appropriate events, contacts, and learning experiences.
My mentor and I actually started at HRC during the same week. A former Obama Administration worker and now director of our Outreach and Engagement, he has worked to share incredible connections with me.
One of the first events he took me to was at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters for their Pride Month Reception in June. He focused on pushing me out there and getting me into conversations with DNC staffers and other progressive advocates that I would have otherwise never known how to engage.
What’s best, is that he is not just a mentor to me. Yesterday, we had lunch to discuss our summers wrapping up and how I would use the lessons learned from my internship to make a difference on campus. I know he has taken at least 10 other interns to lunch and 15 more for coffee. He invites a few of us out to happy hour after work every few weeks to just discuss workplace climate and how the interns are feeling in the office. As a mentor, he strives to make sure that all of us our engaged, active, attending events, and meeting people.
I think the quality I’ve learned to appreciate the most in my mentor is that he always asks “How can I help?” It’s never about him telling me what to do or what I should be doing. He actively works to learn and understand my interests so that he can offer the best advice and connections.
If you don’t have a mentor, you should find one! Mine has truly elevated my experience at my internship and in D.C. this summer.