Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Networking (and making friends!) in DC

DC is a networking-orientated city. While here I’ve heard many people both praise and condemn DC's networking culture. Nonetheless, aside from succeeding, networking can teach you a lot and allow you to meet many wonderful people.

Here are suggestions for networking!

1.     Reach out to people in other offices.
Scheduling a meeting with people might seem a little awkward for a lot of people, but I definitely recommend it. As an introvert, I was a little worried meeting people I didn’t know well (or in some case, at all) would be awkward and uncomfortable. Turns out people in DC love talking about themselves (probably because they’re doing such cool things) and I had the opportunity to learn D.C.’s ins and outs. I just emailed people who wrote reports about topics I was interested in and asked them if they’d like to get coffee or lunch at their earliest availability. During meetings I asked these really interesting people questions about their political beliefs, work, and advice.
Tip: I’ve heard that people generally don’t like it when interns ask to meet after the work day, so make sure to accommodate the people you ask to meet with!

2.     Contact the offices you were considering interning at and schedule lunch.
If you’re like me, you probably took a while to decide where you want to intern. I thought long and hard about which internship to take and am very happy at the Center for American Progress on Project Progress2050 (The Race Policy Team). However, I was and continue to be interested in the other internships I applied to. I decided to reach out to the people who interviewed me and met with them for lunch. I ended up learning a lot from them and they were able to connect me with other people to discuss law school, social justice, and life in DC.
Tip: The same tip for suggestion one is true for this suggestion!

3.     Go to events around DC and invite fellow interns.
If you’re spontaneous, you could literally pick up a newspaper every morning and find something cool to do after work. Most newspapers are free or very cheap, there's a popular newspaper program that only costs 3 cent per newspaper and the proceeds assist homeless people. If you’re a planner and/or don’t like newspapers, there are websites you can subscribe to that will send you weekly events, like Weekbook from LinkTank. These events are generally free and they’re great if you want to meet really interesting and intelligent people. Also, if you invite your co-workers it could be a great way to get to know them.

4. Free food brings people together.
If you know there is free food somewhere, invite people. They will come.

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