An internship really is in many ways what you make of it. Because this is Washington DC. Because everywhere you seem to bump into people infinitely more intelligent, experienced and important than you – but if you stay alert and active, and look and act important too (leveraging that Aussie accent to good use), chances are you can entertain a fair amount of excitement and rare encounters no matter where you work, and learn a whole heap on the side too (“Heap” is not even a word here in America. They have never heard of it as a concept).
So, typical experiences at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC):
I love conferences. I stealthily let my supervisor know this and so she sends me to enjoy beautiful venues all over DC (i.e. the gold-gilded bathrooms at the JW Marriot last week were to die for), free food galore, famous thinkers and speakers and stacks of free publications to browse and take home. Today for instance, I was on the way to an event at the Newseum – a super cool museum… about the news – and met a journalist whilst on the metro who writes for a bunch of different newspapers in DC, has been translated into 7 languages, according to him, and started engaging in this exchange-of-business-cards phenomenon. Once at the Newseum, I received free tickets to the actual museum, loaded my plate up unashamedly with fresh fruit (which is kind of pricey here), and blueberry bagels and witnessed what was really a fascinating discussion about the growing racial and economic divide in the American economy. Lunch comes in fancy boxes. There was lots of networking with the people on my table (professors at MIT, staff on Capitol Hill, researchers and directors of this or that organization, and myself the intern, the most important of them all), more exchange of business cards - including one from someone I’d met at a different conference two weeks ago – “Washington’s really a tiny world”, they say.
In the office, there’s a tonne of reading and writing and researching to be done. A pile of different projects which might involve me calling random organizations to find suitable speakers to attend our Spring Conference – make sure to dial the right area code for inter-state, or you might have some confusing phone calls.
All in all though, interning is great fun and I feel like my brain is swollen most of the time from the amount of new material that is just everywhere in DC. It’s a different lifestyle, working – not simply studying- in DC. One feels in the midst of things. I like to cement this feeling of busy-ness by routinely grabbing a copy of the 6 different free newspapers on the streets every morning… a lot goes on.