Filling in the Blanks

Filling in the Blanks

When people ask me what I'm doing in D.C. this summer, the response is never just "an internship".  I could have just an internship, do my 9-5 gig, then come back, lounge around and watch Netflix. And I'll admit - I do have those days all too often when I get home from a long day and want nothing more than to curl up on the couch in my PJ's and sleep.  But I'll have a 3 hour class to go to, or a homework deadline to meet, or a workshop to attend...and while I'll complain in the moment, what gets me up and running is not the requirement, but the reality of it all.  To have all these resources and privileges at my fingertips, how could I not take advantage of them?

 

The Academic Course

In D.C., I'm constantly learning.  Sometimes, that learning is on the job.  Sometimes it's on the street.  Sometimes it's at a museum.  Sometimes, I'm taught by my supervisor, other times by observation.  Once a week, I spend 3 hours in the evening learing the traditional way, in a classroom, from an instructor.  My class - Strategic Communications, actually wasn't my first choice, but I'm warming up to it.  I can confidently say that what I've learned these past 6 weeks far exceeds everything I learned in my Oral Communications class last spring semester.  My classmates have majors in marketing, international security, sports management, and exercise science, so conversation is never boring.  To break up the monotony of a long stretch, our class is divided into 3 parts; the first hour is student presentations, the second is a lecture, the third is a hands-on seminar style application.  Did I mention we have to develop a strategic communications plan, prepare multiple case studies, and keep up with assigned readings?  Class wouldn't be class without a hefty dose of homework, projects, and midterms.  On the plus side, my class mates and I will be pros at persuasion after this course.  That could be both a good and a bad thing.

 

Career Boot Camp

No, it did not entail any lunges, sprints, and planks, but this afternoon-long workshop was intensive.  Aimed at jumpstarting our professionalism, we all gathered in an auditorium for an initial workshop and could then choose from a list 2 other workshops to attend that afternoon.  I thought the first workshop was supposed to explore how credit affects your career prospects, but it ended up being a massive talk about cyberscamming.  The workhops of my choosing were valuable, though. In "negotiating your first salary" and "five steps to financial success", I realized how much I don't know about personal finances, budgeting, and workplace hierarchy, but also realized that many of my peers were in the same boat.  Live and learn!  I was disappointed to learn that women often get jipped out of baseline earnings when it comes to starting salaries.  I thought the glass ceiling had been broken...I guess not.

 

"Let me give you my card, sir"

 

Public Policy Dialogues

Another part of TWC is Public Policy Dialogues, in which we have the opportunity to meet with the Congressional representative from our home district.  Last week I left work a little early to make the 13-block walk down to Capitol Hill to meet Rep. Ted Deutch.  This insane heat index slowed me down quite a bit, and though I made it with seconds to spare, it turned out we had a decent wait anyway since Congressman Deutch had some last minute business to attend to.  Apparently, the daily agenda of a Congressman is unpredictable.  There is no "normal" day.  In the meantime, 2 other South Floridians and I spoke with his legislative assistant, who, it turns out, went to my university, and had a lot of mutual friends with me.  I've grown accustomed to being surrounded by people from every corner of the globe, so it was strange to be in a room where everyone knew what I was talking about when I referred to "the Starbucks across from the mall on Glades road".  When the time came, we probably spent a total of 2 minutes with Rep. Deutch, just enough time to shake his hand and introduce ourselves.  With a schedule as demanding as his, I was impressed by how cool, calm, and collected he was.  Rep. Deutch and I share an interest on several issues, and I only wish we had more time to discuss them but am so thankful to have a Congressman who makes time to meet with constituents out of want rather than obligation.

 

 

 

 

SMLS

Put a Democrat and a Republican in a room of 500+ savvy young adults, throw a heated issue into the mix, place one very calm moderator at the side, and what do you get?   Part of our programming is the Simpson-Mineta Leadership Series, where us interns get to watch two politicians exchage viewpoints on a topic of interest.  The first SMLS debate centered around climate change, and though I was excited at first, felt pretty let down at the end.  While both speakers agreed that global warming is an ocurring phenomenon, speaker #1 didn't think it posed enough of an imminent threat to necessitate heavy spending.  Speaker #2, on the other hand, was spewing statistics left and right to assert climate change as needing immediate economic attention.  How somebody can remember so many facts and figures, I do not know.  Add in some negations, interruptions, and raised voices.  It was ...tense.  We all exchanged a few uncomfortable glances in the audience. This certainly wasn't the mature conversation I was expecting.  While SMLS intends to demonstrate that people with radically different views can coexist, the reality of it is that sometimes, people cling TOO radically to accept the existence of another view.  At least it was entertaining!

 

 

The stage is set. Let the games begin!

 

There you have it - in those few precious hours I am not working, sleeping, eating, or exploring - I am still doing something to make the most of my time.

 

-Rachel

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