Gaining a New Perspective | The Washington Center

Gaining a New Perspective

Leaving. It didn’t hit me until I realized I had to start packing to leave. Just when it started to feel like a place I belonged in, I had to pull out my bags and boxes and pack my life up into two containers.


These final days have made me think back to the first steps I took in the process of coming to D.C.— writing my application and interviewing with different internship sites. I remember some frustration in the process, feeling like the companies I was interviewing didn’t line up with my interests. I had interned with a corporate lobby firm in Europe last fall and I wanted to supplement that experience with working for a corporate lobby firm in the United States, ultimately determining whether I wanted to become a lobbyist or not.


But the companies I was getting interview requests from had nothing to do with lobbying or international relations. They were all small businesses looking for an intern to conduct administrative duties, attend meetings and perform research on their behalf. And while these would be very similar duties to the ones I would have at a lobbying firm, I wanted to lobby. I wanted to be a part of the international sphere.


But alas, interview after interview, I was only getting offers from businesses and non-profit organizations. With the internship start date close approaching, I decided to follow my gut and commit to an internship offer from a business consulting firm. I guess I’ll learn something new, I said. I guess it’ll expand my horizon on how I view life.


But it actually did. I may not have had an epiphany moment, but I most definitely did learn a lot during my internship about what aspects of the job I enjoyed and which aspects I didn’t. The field of business consulting is not unrelated to the field of international affairs, especially since the company I worked for did international business consulting.


Being within a field is not the only way to learn about the field. At times, a different angle can provide context of how the field, or the specific type of organization within the field, fits into the larger picture. Attending so many events on behalf of Manchester Trade, I learned the crucial role that think tank organizations play in the field of foreign policy. I realized that my favorite part of my work with Manchester Trade was when I was sitting behind a computer, writing reports and researching on behalf of the executives.


Think tanks and international organizations play such a big role in influencing decision-making within the government, so it was really just an indirect form of lobbying. In fact, it was the form of lobbying that made me interested in the field of lobbying in the first place. That then allowed me to further explore how I viewed civic engagement—voting was one thing, but informational lobbying was another important form of civic engagement. To inform the government about the need and preferences of certain interest groups is critical—after all, the government is not just of the people and by the people, but also for the people.


Your internship is not always what it seems. There is no way of preemptively figuring out how your internship is going to turn out. The best thing you can do is to be open to changes in how you view yourself, your world and your future career prospects.


Opportunity Just Ahead

Courtesy of Tweak Your Biz


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