Tomorrow is the last day of my internship, and looking back, I feel accomplished at what I have done. I entered my internship with two primary goals – to leave a good impression, and to secure my fall internship through networking. I feel like I have achieved both, so I feel like my summer was productive.
Looking back, I’d like to offer words of advice on a few topics – networking, working the office, and living in D.C. Hopefully they help a future intern on Capitol Hill.
First, “networking” is often seen as an all-encompassing activity, a buzzword that is often discussed but rarely in any depth. It isn’t as painful as the vague idea may confer, it can actually be fun – it was my favorite part of my internship. It isn’t that difficult, and if you hope to find a position on the Hill, you quickly realize that it is easy to bond with others who share your sense of dedication.
Second, your internship, by and large, is about making sure the office runs smoothly. You help grease the wheels and facilitate the jobs of everyone else. My advice pertains to Hillterns specifically, but I imagine it applies to people in other fields as well. Whether it is making coffee, refilling the water jug, sorting mail, or answering phones, it may lack the luster of your dreams. It is nonetheless helpful. Try your best, make mistakes, learn from them. That was my experience. Every time I learned a task, I would write it down so I could perform it well in the future. Don’t expect to be perfect. If you go into a new job or a new relationship expecting to be flawless, you’re looking at it wrong.
Third, living in D.C. is an experience in itself. Explore the nightlife, the parks, the museums and libraries, and the restaurants in town. Try and take up a new hobby. Make sure to find time for exploring the city and befriending the people you live with.
I am still figuring out what direction I want my career to take. I may try and find a position on the Hill, though I am not entirely sure. I have grown increasingly convinced that our nation needs people who are dedicated and ambitious, who have a sense of obligation, and are willing to turn the page on the negative partisanship that is now paralyzing our country. The question is not whether I get involved, but how.
Picture is from Newseum: