Finding My Balance

Finding My Balance

Working on the campaign trail is everything I wanted from my internship experience... and a little bit more. My sole purpose in coming to D.C. was to get work experience and I definitely received that. There are pros and cons to the fast-paced campaign trail that gets my heart pumping and my insides dancing with excitement and then there are the days that beat me to the ground and leave me exhausted and lifeless. The average intern in The Washington Center only works Monday through Friday. Actually, I think it's safe to say that the average working person usually works Monday through Friday, but not me. I have NOT had a weekend off since I've arrived in D.C. and the days that I have spent off are consumed with school work, obligations for my program or catching up on sleep. Unlike my fellow interns, I have not had the opportunity to soak in the "D.C. experience" like the museums, monuments and night life attractions. I usually get home from work at 8:00 p.m. most days, depending on what's going on and my weekends are spent working on the campaign: recruiting volunteers, attending meetings, canvassing, making phone calls and meeting with community members.



Saturday meet & greet hosted for residents in Ward 8.

 

I know to everyone around me my work schedule seems crazy and outrageous, but I find solace in my work. I enjoy the people I meet, the challenges I face each day and learning the ins-and-outs on a political campaign. But I won't lie to you -- a part of me feels like I might be missing out on that "D.C. experience" that everyone around me seems to be living. If I choose to stay in D.C. after my internship concludes, I have to find a balance between work and my personal life. I love the feeling of being busy and constantly on the go and that's what the campaign gives me. I wouldn't consider myself an adrenaline junkie, but the excitement I feel when I'm outside the office recruiting voters and networking with individuals fuels my fire. My heart spikes with excitement and I'm in my zone. My body and my mind sometimes are in completely different places. My body begins to betray me, exhausted and worn out from the constantly-on-the-go campaign trail. But my mind enjoys the hectic and unknown atmosphere. I'm good at what I do on the campaign, because I enjoy what I do.

 

If I stay in D.C., I need to have a means of release other than the campaign. On Mondays after programming, I volunteer at an after school program for middle school students in Ward 8 -- it's called Higher Achievement. I equally enjoy working with these students and seeing their beaming faces to start off my week. I know that the campaign from here on is only going to get more hectic, but I don't want to have to compromise other obligations. Negotiating is probably one of the most intimidating ideas to me. But I'm finding that it's something I must overcome, in order to find a balance in my life. Being an adult comes with making decisions and this is becoming more apparent to me now than ever.

 

Higher Achievement Scholars working on a project with their mentor.

 

My decision on whether to stay in D.C. is comprised of many factors. One that seems most significant to me is the challenge of being new to D.C. and learning about the strategies of a campaign and at the same time learning the city, and the D.C. culture and issues. Washingtonians take immense pride in being from D.C. and are not too welcoming to outsiders. My theory is that this is a combination of things, but namely the fact that D.C. is a large commuter city where neighboring states such as Virginia and Maryland benefit from D.C. jobs and attractions and return to their cities, leaving D.C. residents to compete to get good paying jobs. Also, as D.C. sees continued development, the affordability of the city decreases and Washingtonians who still remain in D.C. feel a sense of entitlement. But this mentality is even more prevalent in Ward 8, my constituent base. In some cases I begin to doubt myself due to the lack of knowledge of the who's who in Ward 8 and my fear that I will be deemed as an "outsider." I hope this is something I can overcome. I personally believe that you are a part of the community you choose to invest in and I'm choosing to invest in the D.C. community. I will always be a Californian at heart, but I would love to make D.C. home one day.

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