I spent 10 weeks in Washington, the epicenter of power, bearing witness to the turmoil washing over my country. But, in 40 years, what I will remember most from my time there will not be the day-to-day political happenings which occurred, such as the defeat of the health care bill, the firing of Sean Spicer, or even the highly entertaining, not-so-extensive tenure of Anthony Scaramucci. Important as the political events which unfolded this summer may have been, I won’t focus on them when I recall my experience. Instead, I’ll think of the people I was surrounded by; the stories of my fellow interns and coworkers, the experiences I shared with them, and the things we learned together.
I’ll remember the time when when we banded together as co-interns to tell our manager that we would like to see some changes (to which our manager responded positively to).
I’ll remember the JPLs out at the shady spot, where what we discussed shall remain classified…
I’ll remember watching jazz at the navy yard, walking around town while getting to know the other interns in my PSIP cohort, and spending time with a special someone.
I also gained some professional experience… (don’t worry, LSA Opportunity Hub)
I became more confident when articulating myself to superiors; I learned that working 9-6 may not be the best way forward for me; I gained an appreciation for the work that nonprofits and activists do every day, and, most importantly, I made huge strides in improving my general communication skills (getting what I think/want/need/feel OUT there, in a respectful and tactful manner).
In closing, I can say, without pause, that this past summer was incredibly important to my development as a student, a young professional, and as a human being. My advice to anyone out there considering whether or not to try something (like an internship, but it could be anything) is to DO IT! It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to even be your first choice; doing something new and scary (and decidedly NOT perfect) will yield you infinitely more benefits than staying within the confines of your comfort zone. And any uncomfortable feelings of anxiety surrounding the uncertainty of things before you start are normal, and will go away as you settle in.
On final thought:
For a long time, I took myself too seriously. I spent sleepless nights worrying about all the ways things that could go wrong in the future. Small tasks made me nervous, as I thought I might screw up even the tiniest, least consequential things. I wish someone had told me the following:
Things don’t matter as much as you think they do. They really don’t. All that fuss you’re making over things . . . is just fuss. Things are much more simple than you make them out to be. You like a girl? Talk to her. You want to make friends? Invite people to things. You want to work on a specific task in the office? Tell a superior. Want to do something? Do it!
I could go on, but I realize that, even if I’d heard this little pump-up before (and I did, from parents and close friends), I wouldn’t believe it until I felt it. Feeling what I am describing—confidence—is no easy task, and I hardly know how I have gained some confidence myself. But I’m pretty confident (lol) in one thing: trying things is good.
I think Will Ferrel said it best: “Trust your gut, keep throwing darts at the dartboard. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.”