It’s difficult to articulate the fantastic experience that I had on the Washington Program this semester, but I'm going to attempt to.
In the last four months, I have managed to live on my own, work a full time job without pay, and feed myself, all while attempting to complete three courses. Needless to say, this semester was my busiest yet! But it was also one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had to date, and there are a lot of things I learned about myself in this semester full of excitement.
First, I’ve learned that the structure of a full time office job is inherently stressful. Even on slow days, I came home exhausted. I didn’t understand it, and I definitely didn’t want to do anything but put on my PJs and watch a movie, but then I had class, so two to three days a week I couldn’t just go home and relax. It was finding the strength to continue to push through even when I was exhausted that really made me understand my limits, and how much work was too much work. It turns out that I can handle a lot, but sometimes I did need to take some time for myself and watch TV, read, or go to the gym. Those times were necessary to retain my mental health, and I’m glad that I was able to do that sometimes.
That being said, I have also learned through this program that everything tends to happen at the same time. By this, I mean that my elections paper was due the midnight before my birthday, the research and memoir presentations were smack dab in the middle of House Democratic leadership elections at work, and the research paper and finals took place during the busiest lame duck session that we’ve seen recently, culminating in the cromnibus. Looking back, one of my biggest regrets was not realizing how busy I was going to be at points ahead and planning accordingly. Instead, I let things build up, put off papers, and ultimately ended up freaking out every time things were due. It was not the most stable form of accomplishing tasks, that’s for sure.
Another thing I’ve learned is that if you do your work well, and you’re polite and respectful, people will notice. Probably my greatest accomplishment of this semester was getting to know my coworkers, and working my hardest to be the best intern that I could be. It helped my attitude that my office was outstanding with thanking me for the tasks that I did for them, and for that I am very grateful. However, working is hard, especially when you’re the lowest on the totem pole, and I learned that it’s okay to fall sometimes as long as you work your hardest to get back up.
Finally, this semester I have learned that I am smart, kind and capable, and those skills can easily transfer to a successful life in the real world. While I certainly had slip ups, that’s all part of learning to be on your own.
The lessons I have learned this semester will be applicable to the rest of my life, and I am certainly grateful to all of the people that helped me throughout the program. I maybe/kindof/in a way know what I’m doing for the first time ever, and that’s a great feeling! Until next time, DC. Thank you for all that you’ve given me.