Last Minute Experiences

Last Minute Experiences

My second-to-last week in Washington has been very bittersweet. On the one hand, it's starting to dawn on me that my time here with The Washington Center is drawing to a close. On the other hand, I know I've still got time to take advantage of all that D.C. has to offer. It's this spirit of trying to fit as much as I can into my limited time left that led me to embrace some signature Washington traditions this past week: the lighting of the Capitol Christmas Tree, and, of course, networking.

 

Capitol Christmas Tree

Every year, a different state sends a tree to the grounds of the U.S. Capitol to be decorated with ornaments and lights. This year the tree came to Washington all the way from Alaska. My roommate Guneev and I were eager to see the big ceremony where Speaker of the House of Representatives Paul Ryan officially lights the tree, so we made plans to meet up at the Capitol after work. I luckily don't work too far from there, so it was a very short walk. What wasn't short, however, was the line to get through security that was set up outside the entrance to the Capitol lawn. It may have been annoying, but every time I have had to go through a metal detector here in D.C. I know it is a safety precaution. I certainly don't mind the work that the dedicated Capitol Police officers do, but as I was standing in line while the ceremony started I was wishing they were working just a little faster. I got closer and closer to the front of the line until I saw a big flash as the tree lit up. I had missed the big countdown by Speaker Ryan! I was determined, though, to still get a closer look at the tree.

 

It was worth the wait! The tree was a very impressive sight, and it looked beautiful lit up against the night sky. Even cooler was seeing it next to the illuminated Capitol building. It screamed "Christmas in D.C." and I loved getting to experience that moment. Of course my roommate and I HAD to take a ton of photos of the tree and with the tree and Capitol together, and most of them turned out really well. It's a sad thing to think about, knowing that I'll have to leave before I can actually get to experience Christmas in Washington. However, it was also a reminder that I'll soon be reunited with my family this holiday season. Nothing like a giant national Christmas tree to inspire some reflection!

 

 

The Capitol looked particularly cool here! (The tree's neat too!)

 

Last Minute Networking!

All semester long I've tried to really embrace D.C.'s networking culture, and it wouldn't be time well spent if I didn't try to squeeze one last meeting into my calendar. I had been trying to arrange lunch with an alumnus of my college for about two months, but we were never able to settle on a date because of our busy schedules. Finally, however, we were able to agree on a day this past week when we were both relatively free. It may have been difficult to set up, but this meeting proved to be my most helpful one of the semester! The guy that I met with works as the media coordinator for a nonprofit organization that works in several areas to benefit women, such as addressing the gender gap in STEM fields and combating sex discrimination in higher education. It was fascinating to learn about how one gets to work at such an organization. He learned about the organization and the open position through a contact he had made during his previous work on campaigns. To learn about how he entered into campaign work as a sort of generalist and left the field focused on a very specific aspect of that field, communications, was very insightful.

 

I'm still trying to figure out what exactly I want to do when I graduate, so to hear someone tell me that I don't necessarily have to have a specific plan right out of the gate was reassuring for sure. Going along with this, he also stressed that I shouldn't feel pressured to pursue graduate school right after completing my undergraduate degree. Instead, he recommended I get some experience in the real world first and really find out what I find interesting and what I don't. Only then should I start looking into graduate programs in the area I find myself most comfortable in. It was great advice, partially because it was coming directly from someone's first hand experience. This is a guy that came out of the same degree program I am now currently pursuing and was able to enter into a field I am interested in. This lunch was definitely worth the wait!

 

I've only got one week in Washington, D.C. left, and I'm sure it'll be even more bittersweet than this one was. Lets hope it'll be just as memorable.

 

Until next time,

 

Barrett

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