My First post of this blog this year, that I wrote back in June, was called “Why isn’t New York City the capital of the World” in which I described the importance of Washington DC. I was inspired to write that post because I spent my past summer (10 Weeks to be exact) doing an internship in Washington DC through an internship programme provided by The Washington Center. Part of this program is not only a professional internship but also an academic course and many workshops and other assignments depending on the specific programme. In this post I would like to describe that experience.
I can say that this experience was an amazing one from every possible perspective and I highly recommend it. I don’t really want to write about what The Washington Center (TWC) is or what it does. (If you click on the link in the name you will find out for yourself.) I can, however, say one thing and that it is one of the best ways to start, not only, your professional career but also your possible academic one or improve your already rich professional or academic experience. I recommend it to all kinds of students: freshmen, juniors, seniors or post-graduates.
I highly recommend it, especially, if you are into International Affairs. If you are an International Studies student or you have an interest in International Politics or International Economics, Washington DC is definitely the place to be. Washington DC is where all the lobbies of the world are. Every single country in the world has an embassy in Washington DC and some of the most famous US but also world-renowned think-tanks have an office in Washington DC.
One of the best parts of my DC experience is the fact that I could meet people from all over the world who work in all sorts of fields. One will certainly meet people from their respective field of study or field of interest. This is very important in order to become more well read in a specific field. A very good bonus is that I also made lots of new friends at these events.
All these friends together with the ones I met through TWC are at same time useful contacts for my future career and endeavours. In the future I might cooperate with these people. I might be able to help them out and move the world forward and also vice versa.
Yes, Networking was a very important part of my experience. I went to many public events organized by various think-tanks and NGOs. All these public lectures are a great source of new insight and knowledge. Most of them have free food (which is a crucial piece of information for any intern). Most importantly all these events are attended by people from various backgrounds who all have the same interest. This is an excellent opportunity to network. Networking was great for me. I made many useful contacts for the future.
Another very important part of my Washington DC experience was the professional experience itself and all other related training. Being present in the professional environment surely helped me. I now know what to expect if I ever come and work in Washington DC. I got the taste of what it feels like to be a professional and what is expected of me. I became familiar with all the difficulties and challenges of these kinds of jobs. At my internship site I tried to do my best to help my employers as much as possible. I also tried to learn as much as was possible at my internship site.
Another thing that I enjoyed very much was the feeling of just being there in Washington DC. If you are working there and not just visiting as a tourist you feel like you are being part of something big. Washington DC has also a great, what I call, “Intern Culture”. Interns in Washington DC are being very much appreciated. There are many events and special discounts for interns all over the town. In retrospect I know I could have tried to find out more about these sorts of events. But I did go to quite a few. I attended a special Networking Event for Interns call DC Intern Mixer. I took advantage of the DC Interns Rock Week and I also attended the Politico Summer School.
Yes this experience was difficult and it was very difficult to keep a balance between work, discovering DC, having fun and sleeping. But I learnt a lot and through this difficult experience I also became more aware of who I was. I discovered my limits, I discovered my potentials. I found out in what things I am good at and in what things do I still need improvement. TWC experience also required us to write reflections and do various assignments, which helped me a lot too.
On top of all of that Washington DC is a great city do visit and discover. The museums, the sites, the restaurants and the bars are incredible. There is always something to do in spare time.
For any future TWC interns or any who are reading this post and are participating at some TWC programme now, I have a couple of advice and some suggestions. First of all, don’t be afraid or stressed in any way. Never think about reasons why you should not succeed in your internship or in your programme. Think about, and only about, how you can accomplish your goals while doing the internship. My biggest recommendation would be to network a lot. DO attend the events in DC that you want to attend! (Of course as long as it is not taking too much time from your internship site.) DO go to all the different workshops organized by TWC! Do not hesitate to ask questions and learn at those workshops. DO try to learn as much as you can and achieve as much as possible! DO Try to do your Best at your internship site! DO Discover the city as much as you can! In short use up 100% of the potential of the great city that you are in.
In the end, what you all should do basically, and it is also what I did, is the following: “Do Walk The Extra Mile“. Although I know that after already one week in DC you are probably sick of hearing that.
Washington DC Rocks and Good Luck
PS: Link to an Audio by The Economist about Doing Business in Washington DC <a href=”http://video.economist.com/linking/index.jsp?skin=oneclip&ehv=http://audiovideo.economist.com/&fr_story=8081354e1c434197de931f97a9f6c2af1150f589&rf=ev&hl=true” target=”_blank”>
And the Link to DC LinkTank, a website which provides free information about various events in Washington DC.