Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Nine-to-Five, Professional, Interning Part of the Day & Recommendations for Future Students

The Nine-to-Five, Professional, Interning Part of the Day 

In the Spring 2013 group we have a internship placements ranging from non-profit organizations, embassies and government offices to policy advocacy, think-tank and campaign finance groups. 
Although we haven't been in DC long, we have had sometime to enjoy the perks of interning here. Eating free dinners at The Heritage Foundation, getting paid at Wexler & Walker, receiving airtime at the White House, and traveling to NYC with No Labels all add to make interning in DC unlike an internship anywhere else in country. Along with the awesome perks, many of us have also had some interesting projects. Reyn, for example, says the "most interesting project [at Wexler & Walker, so far] was working with my boss to help a client with a public relations issue." Although vague in his response, we trust he's enjoying his work. Henry, who is working for the Atlantic Council, was able to provide a bit more detail about his favorite assignment: 
My favorite assignment so far was drafting a memo on a corporation with whom the Council wishes to initiate a substantive partnership. It was fun to learn about the corporation and tease out its reasons for being interested in the Council's work. I have also enjoyed helping out with event preparation, mainly by composing bios on the keynote speakers (who are always fascinating figures in US foreign policy) and drafting invitations.
Like Reyn and Henry, Elena has enjoyed "the opportunity to be able to participate in research and events that remind Americans of our founding principles and their continuing importance in today's policies" while interning at The Heritage Foundation. Unlike most years we do not have any interns working in Congressional offices and we have chosen to break tradition in our living arrangements.

Internship Recommendations for Future Students

Finding an internship:
  1. Stay in constant contact with Dr. Spalding and Professor Pitney 
    - DC Survival Tip: Stay on Prof. Pitney and Dr. Spalding good-side. They are both very well connected and knowledgeable about DC life, internships and housing.

  2. Use Professor Pitney's website and get on his internship email list serve
    - Before meeting with Prof. Pitney, be sure to take a look at his DC Internship and Housing Website. Getting on the Pitney Internship Email Serve will also provide you with updates on new internship postings

  3. Talk to anyone and everyone who has knowledge of DC
    - "Professors and program alumni can help you come up with ideas about the types of places you might want to work or help you narrow down your options. Talking to multiple people about their experiences or their suggestions can help you see the situation from a different perspective or learn about great opportunities you had not originally considered." - Elena
Keeping your internship: 
  1. You are one of many DC interns
    - There are a lot of interns who come through DC semester after semester, if you want to make an impression work hard, stay humble and be professional
  1. Take pride in all the work you do, even if, you are just stapling packets together
    - No matter how meaningless a task may seem, there is a reason for doing it so do it well
  1. Always use the 15 Minute Rule & Arrive at work ready to work
    - Be mindful of commute time: the metro is not perfect and buses are even less perfect.
  1. DC's a small and highly connected city - Be careful of what you say in public
    - “Don't say anything in public that you don't want printed on the headline of the Washington Post, with your name next to it” - Dr. Spalding
  1. Have something interesting to say when your stuck in the elevator with the executive members of internship place
- In the past week, I was caught in the elevator three times with the founder of the organization I am interning with. While most people at the organization would envy the precious 45-60 seconds I had with him each time we were in the elevator, I was mortified. On the first elevator ride, he stared at me waiting to hear something profound and enlightening (as he does to all people). In stead I panicked and we talked about the potential later that night snow. The next morning, to my luck, we shared the elevator again; and, again we chatted about snow. (Just to note, this was in February and there hadn't been snow on the ground in weeks.) Thoroughly embarrassed, I told my supervisor about my dilemma. After laughing at me for a few seconds (maybe a few minutes), he let me in on a secrete: everyone struggles with the infamous quest-for-enlightenment stare. Although I didn't get much useful advice from my supervisor, I decide to take a stand against shameful elevator rides. Thankfully, later that day I was invited to sit-in on a board meeting in the Founder's office. The meeting not only allowed me to gain insight into the direction of the organization, but I also got to glance around the room and learn a bit about who our Founder is beyond his title. On our third elevator ride, we discussed hiking (one of his favorite pastimes), which he seemed much more engaged in. Although I haven't had my moment to say something inspiring, at least we weren't talking about snow.

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