Intelligent Connections

Intelligent Connections

D.C. has so much to offer and there is always something to do. Want some culture? Visit some of D.C.’s heritage sites or catch one of the many festivals throughout the year. Want some history? There are countless memorials and monuments throughout D.C. and all the Smithsonian museums are free. But what I love the most about D.C. is the multitude of talks and events hosted by renowned thinkers and leaders on current events from around the world -- and all you have to do to get in is sign up. It’s like TED Talks but for politics! Read on and I’ll tell you everything you need to know to get into some of the most sought after events.


The Events


D.C. is the political hotspot for obvious reasons and leaders from around the world gather here to share their knowledge, and draw attention to important issues that affect us all. There are so many events happening that I can guarantee you’ll find something that interests you. Some of the topics cover international affairs, security, public policy, law, business, economy, society… the list goes on!  To give you an example, last Monday I was able to attend an event hosted by the American Enterprise Institute on the current conflict in Syria where Senator John McCain was the keynote speaker. It was an amazing experience to see, in person, what we usually only get to see snippets of through the news on television.


Senator John McCain

U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) speaks at the American Enterprise Institute.


The most interesting part of this experience for me was to see how it would be portrayed in the media. That evening -- and I encourage everyone to try this -- I went online to see what kind of coverage the event had and it was an interesting find. For this blog I only looked at two sources as a quick example; ABC News and The Washington Post. ABC took what we’ll call the Russian angle and, based on the coverage, I was led to believe McCain’s keynote address was all about Russia’s involvement in Syria. I found that interesting because McCain only briefly mentioned Russia during his speech and went into more detail only when asked specifically about Russia’s participation in Syria during the questions segment. The Washington Post, on the other hand, highlights McCain’s remarks on the lack of leadership President Obama’s administration is showing in the Syrian conflict. I’m not saying either news outlet is wrong or trying to mislead the public, they are simply giving a small picture of everything that had been said at the event. If we were to combine the information from those two articles, we would still only have half of what Senator McCain said. This emphasizes why it is so important to do your own research and find the answers for yourself. Nobody has the time to scour the news on every topic so instead I encourage you to look beyond the headlines on those issues that are most important to you and don’t take anything at face value, even if they claim to be “fair and balanced.”


Becoming a D.C. Insider


You’re probably thinking to yourself “that’s really cool Chris, but how do I get in??” It’s all about mailing lists, who you know, and who you work for. The first place you should sign up is over at D.C. Link Tank, subscribe to their “Weekbook” and check out the upcoming events happening in D.C. It’s pretty comprehensive and you can narrow down the events to areas that interest you most.


D.C. is all about networking and who you know so if you don’t want to miss an event, go out there and make friends! Some events are difficult to get in to -- you’ll notice the most popular events fill up within minutes of announcement but if you know the right people, there is always standing room in the back. Don’t be afraid to approach people and find out more about them. Remember, you aren’t the only one in D.C. trying to network!


Where you are interning can make a big difference too. Some friends here at The Washington Center are interning for organizations that host some of these events. Another friend was lucky enough to see former President Clinton speak on the opportunity for growth in Africa and that was thanks to some connections through his internship. Don’t think you need to intern at a policy think tank to get access to these events, just make friends with other interns that already work there and they will tell you all the cool events that are coming up. That’s what I did!


Former President Bill Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton speaks at the Brookings Institute.


Don’t forget about the ace up your sleeve, The Washington Center! TWC has one of the largest networks of alumni available to you. On June 22nd I’ll be attending a luncheon hosted by The Washington Center at The United Nations Foundation with Elizabeth Gore, the Vice President of Global Partnerships for the United Nations Foundation, currently managing partnership and cause marketing strategies implemented in programs and campaigns of the United Nations. The Washington Center hosts many of these “lunch series” in order to allow students to get to know experienced professionals in their workplaces.


These are only a few ways to find out about events happening in D.C. and the best way to find out about them is to get out there and socialize. It’s exhausting interning in D.C. -- there are so many events, workshops, and classes available to you through The Washington Center that by the time you get back to your room you won’t feel like doing anything else but don’t give in! These internships fly by and you don’t want to go home wishing you had done more -- you can sleep on the plane home!


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