The experience of living and working in Washington D.C. has proven so valuable so far. I have never lived more than an hour from home, let alone outside the state of Michigan. As someone who is interested in working in politics and public policy in the future, an internship in DC almost feels like a necessary rite of passage. Internships in college provide a really unique opportunity to be able to try out a different city or job without the commitment that moving and working somewhere full time does. I am really glad to have had this experience to see what DC is really like. When you are interning in Washington the big question is “Do you want to come back after graduation?” and it seems that everyone else’s answer is yes. A lot of people intern here in college with the intent of getting full time positions at their organizations after graduation, or making connections at other places. And for a while I struggled with this questions. It’s not that I dislike DC- I do like the city. I just don’t see working in DC as the only way to be successful or happy in a future career. Here are a couple things about Washington that might be interesting to other DC hopefuls.
There isn’t as much of a work-life balance in DC as in some other cities. People here work very hard and take pride in their accomplishments. It can feel competitive, but also pushes you to explore a lot of opportunities and activities.
I have a love-hate relationship with public transportation. Riding the metro around takes away a lot of the stress that would be involved with driving in a city. Trains run pretty frequently and move fast during the week, but get congested with tourists on the weekends. Also, if someone says the metro is on fire, they aren’t joking. Apparently this happens in the summer.
Something I wasn’t really prepared for was essentially being stuck in a city for summer’s peak months. If you are an absolute city person at heart, disregard this. But as a Michigander who loves the Great Lakes, going to the beach, and generally spending time outside, I found myself missing some of my favorite summer activities. The first thing I do when I get home will be going to the beach or pool. Washington may look like it is by the coast, but you can’t reach the beach via public transportation.
Although it can get annoying getting stuck behind tourists standing on the left side of the metro escalators and stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to take pictures of things, living in a city with so much history can be pretty cool. Almost all the museums are free, would highly recommend jazz in the garden and Eastern Market, and walking by the monuments really doesn’t get old. Check them out at night/when the sun is setting.