5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me

5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me

When I was preparing for my trek to Washington, D.C., I honestly had no idea what to expect. I tried to contact a former TWC intern in hope of her sharing some advice, but was unsuccessful in my efforts. When I spoke about moving temporarily up to D.C., I got very mixed responses. Some said things like “Oh! That’s wonderful” or “Everyone should live in the D.C. area for some amount of time in their lives." Others had opposing views such as “I hated it there…” or “I hope your D.C. experience will be better than mine."

 

These comments were not helpful, nor uplifting. Luckily, I came in with an open mind. I believed I would either fall in love with Washington, D.C. and never want to leave, or I would hate it and go home, never to return again. For those who are currently facing the same ambiguity, here are 5 things I wish someone told me before I started my semester at The Washington Center.

 

1. Pack accordingly

 

Let's just address the climate for a moment. The Tri-State area has THE MOST bipolar weather in the entire nation. On any given Monday, it will be 70 degrees and fabulous, and by Friday, it will be snowing. So my advice to you, dear friends, is to pack accordingly. Shorts, flip-flops and a winter coat. In all seriousness, if you choose to intern during any winter months, heavy jackets, layers, hats, gloves and scarves would be my suggestion. If you are interning in the summer, especially if you walk to work, don’t wear your work shirt during your morning commute. If you do, bring an extra because it will for sure be soaked in sweat.

 

Now, please also learn from my mistakes. No matter what semester you choose to intern, bring a backpack, waterproof shoes and have an umbrella on-hand at all times. I have never seen more inaccurate weather predictions than while living in D.C. So, rather than having to walk home in freezing rain, in heels, like I did, please take my advice.

 

2. Ask before assuming

 

Something I also learned the hard way: if your end goal is to obtain a government job or simply be offered a position at your internship site, ASK before you ASSUME. Never assume you will be offered a job at your internship site after you complete your internship.

 

If this matters to you, I recommend raising the topic during your interview. Phrase your question about what the internship site has done in the past, like "Have you hired any previous interns?" That way it sounds like you are curious, but not demanding.

 

3. Come ready to work (and not sleep)

 

If you have not worked during your college career, be prepared for a taste of reality. Each week, you'll spend 20 hours or more working at your internship site. Some of you will work forty hours a week. It’s inevitable. Thursday rolls around and, as you are nodding off at work, you are dreaming of going home and napping. Then you get into the lobby of the RAF building and one of your friends says, “So, you’re coming out tonight right?” Most of the time, you will say yes.

 

In addition to getting up at 6 a.m. everyday, plus having a social life, you will also be responsible for completing all TWC work, including the evening class and LEAD Colloquium assignments. Also, not having to go to your internship on Friday does not mean you have an “off” day. You will always have a series of activities you are required to participate in. What all of this means is: be prepared to work, but if you are a social butterful like me, also be prepared to get very little sleep. You can sleep another time. Like when you're dead.

 

4.  Love or loathe…

 

I will keep this point short and sweet because I have already expressed my personal feelings about D.C. and I do not mean to reiterate them. After a short personal exit poll I took of TWC students, some absolutely loved D.C. and did not want to leave, while others could not wait to get home. This is a personal feeling. Everyone will have different experiences during their internship and their stay at The Washington Center. Some people live for hustle and bustle of the city and some cannot stand it: there is very little in between.

 

5. Be prepared to be overwhelmed

 

Whether it’s work or the sheer vastness of the city, I guarantee you will be overwhelmed at some point. There will be a million people, a million restaurants and a million new friends to take in all at once. This of course, will be in addition to the stress of work and academic work. Fret not! It may be intimidating, but you can do it. Once it’s over, you’ll be able to conquer anything.

 

Thank you for following me throughout my D.C. internship experience. I hope my posts will assist you in making the decision to participate in the program and change your life for the better.

 

Always,

Nicole

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