The Beauty of Yes | The Washington Center

The Beauty of Yes

My best piece of advice to any incoming interns is to simply say yes. Saying yes has helped me make some of my best friends here at The Washington Center (TWC). The more I say yes to new adventures, the more thankful I become for the opportunities themselves. In this post, I want to walk you through a D.C. day of saying, “Yes!”

Courtesy of


Our Fridays (or as my Alumna-in-Residence likes to call them, FriYAYs) at TWC are devoted to learning about professional development and engaged leadership. Instead of reporting to your internship site, you spend your day with fellow interns in LEAD Colloquium workshops in the morning and meetings with your Professional Track in the afternoon. In between these FriYAY activities, there is a lot of time left to say, “Yes!”


Last FriYAY, I said yes to…


1) Lunch and Learn: Public Policy

Earlier in the week, I registered for a "lunch and learn" event through The Washington Center featuring a conversation with one Peter Davidson, the Senior Vice President of Federal Government Relations at Verizon. I knew that Mr. Davidson was a big deal because his professional title exceeded five words; naturally, I was interested in having a personal conversation about public policy with someone of such prestige. There were about 20 TWC interns who came to sit around a large table, eat Potbelly sandwiches and listen to Mr. Davidson share his experience in the world of public policy. Having worked on both sides of the political spectrum (for both Republican and Democratic offices), Mr. Davidson was uniquely qualified to speak on the gridlock in Congress. In a short 50-minute luncheon, I learned more about the root causes of our polarized political system than I have in my many weeks attending briefings on Capitol Hill. I will always say yes to learning.


2) Human Rights Campaign Site Visit

After the lunch and learn event, I hustled over to the Human Rights Campaign (for our purposes, HRC will represent the Human Rights Campaign rather than Hillary Rodham Clinton) with my friends and fellow interns, Molly and Val. The moment we walked inside the HRC, I felt this overwhelming sense of urgency: this is a place that positively impacts lives every day, a place where I would love to work. I looked at Molly and Val, realizing that their career adrenaline was pumping as well.



Our professional track (called Advocacy, Service and the Arts) is led by LEAD Instructor Christopher Mesaros, who actively works to connect us with sites that fall into these categories. We are organized into these professional tracks based on our career goals during our application to the program. Every Friday, the best part of my day is the site visit with our professional track. Not only have I met some of my close friends at TWC through this track, but I also leave each week feeling motivated to make a difference with the tools and connections cultivated through this component of our program. I know the other students in our track feel a shared passion for advocacy, one that is truly fostered by our instructor (Thanks, Chris!).


Courtesy of Outsmart Magazine


Our session at the Human Rights Campaign was an introduction to the incredible work accomplished by the non-profit, and the work that is still to come. Upon our visit, the HRC was preparing to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that allowed LGBT couples to say yes to one another in matrimony. Thank goodness for the freedom to say yes.


3) National Geographic Exhibit

I was planning to leave the HRC and retire to my apartment to get some laundry done and maybe, if I was feeling crazy, go grocery shopping. Luckily, before I could announce those plans to my friends, Val asked if I wanted to go to a National Geographic exhibit instead. I reasoned that my grocery list could wait and the two of us set off on our next adventure of yes.



Val and I have a lot in common: both of us sing in our a cappella groups at school, are passionate about public health and have travelled to Greece. While I contributed to research on the Classics at my home university, Val studied Ancient Greek History. It was as though the Goddess of Friendship was watching over us that day to make sure that we found each other and found this museum which was featuring a Ancient Greek exhibit.



There is no better bonding experience than totally nerding out with a new friend in a museum. When we arrived at this ticket counter, we noticed a box filled with golf pencils next to a stack of Scavenger Hunt worksheets that would guide us through the exhibit. Naturally, we said yes and completed the whole thing.

That day, being flexible and saying yes meant making a true friend at TWC.


4) "Adventurous" Eating

Eventually, our stomachs demanded we find someplace to eat. Our grumbling stomachs nudged us around until we made it to a Pret a Manger, a French-style cafe chain that, until that point, I had only ever seen abroad. This is one of my favorite restaurants, because each of their foods is clearly labelled for allergens, something invaluable to me and my gluten intolerance. The labels are also important for people like Val who fall into that category of adventurous eaters. Naturally, she chose to test out a new dairy-free yogurt that used coconut milk and oil as it’s base. Nothing brings people closer together than commiserating over the obligation to eat every bite of an otherwise inedible dairy-free, coconut based yogurt simply because it was a small portion and a big price. Thanks to the coconut yogurt, Val gave me a new piece of advice: say yes but with discretion.


5) A Capitol Tour

With full stomachs, we hopped on the red Metro line and made our way to the Union Station stop so I could show off my favorite coffee shop, Ebenezer’s, on our walk back to the RAF. However, when we got off the train, Val told me that (though we have now lived here for about a month) she still hadn’t seen Capitol Hill, which is only a few blocks from where we live. I felt that bubbly feeling of yes when we embarked on our next adventure: a walking tour of the Hill. It was really nice to walk around the area, something that by now felt so familiar to me, and show off its beauty to a new set of eyes. Naturally, the scene was Snapchat worthy and our snaps from the Hill brought us on our next adventure, to Union Pub.



Val received a Snapchat from a friend of hers celebrating her 21st birthday at a pub nearby to the Hill. She had seen Val’s snap and invited us to join her and her friends. We were about five minutes away, so of course we said yes to some celebration.

There was something so liberating about pushing off our inevitable lazy FriYAY afternoon plans and substituting them with adventure. Saying yes was a simple way to turn an otherwise boring day of cleaning and grocery shopping into a day of endless adventure. The five adventures I wrote about were only a portion of the incredible day we had- we also hit up a bookstore, Ebenezer’s coffee shop, and Val’s beautiful corner apartment (which is now a tour apartment for prospective interns-if you’re in the area come check it out!).


So, to prospective and current interns alike: remember that the key to new adventures is as simple as a three letter word, “Yes!”


On a personal note:

In honor of my new a cappella-loving friend Val, here is an incredible patty-cake rendition of Adele's Send My Love. Check it out!



Read Julie's previous blog posts

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