This first week at The Washington Center has flown by. I hope the next three months do not slip by me too fast. I need to grab each day by the horn and take full advantage of it. At this point in my life I believe this has been the best decision I could have ever made. I knew it was going to be a great one because there was so much conviction within my mind and spirit during the six months that I was contemplating this move. Leave behind all I know and feel safe around for three months? Or stay in my comfort zone? Trust me, it is no easy chore to get up and leave all you know for three months and move to an unknown city where you know no one.
Right now I have decided that I made the correct decision. Throughout the past seven days I have attained an incredible amount of knowledge. My awareness in street smarts, politics, and networking has sky rocketed. It is not easy moving 888 miles away from my family, church, school, jobs, and friends. Especially during my last semester as a senior at Florida Southern College, but it had to be done. At the end they are my motivation and I am doing this for all of them. This will pay off. I will do anything for them.
Many new opportunities have risen and shown themselves to me. Doors are opening that would of stayed shut if I would have remained in Florida this semester. I’m learning how to navigate the metro system, how to read a city map, gaining comfort in talking to strangers and asking them directions, and gaining a sense of self confidence when it comes to getting from point A to point B by myself. It might sound silly but remember I come from a small town in Central Florida where my vehicle takes me everywhere and I know where everything is located back home.
My internship at Senator Schumer’s office has introduced me to terms, customs, and behind the scene workings in politics that I would have remained ignorant to if I would have let the fear of moving to an unfamiliar place stop me. I think the biggest door that has opened is to the networking realm. Just being in D.C. alone I am surrounded by great and prominent individuals who can help me reach my dreams of being a Human Rights Lawyer. I definitely have to work on my elevator spiel; you never know who you are going to meet on the way up the elevator. You have less than 20 seconds to sell yourself.
This new lifestyle has me in love. Going to bed early, waking up early, doing a little reading and meditation before showering, eating breakfast while packing my lunch, catching the shuttle to Union Station, and making it to the office a few minutes before 9:00 a.m. The professionalism of the job made me fall for the real world. Don’t know why I feared it so much before. I guess it’s normal to fear the unknown in a sense- but I am in love thus far. Let’s hope it’s not just the honeymoon stage. But really though, who can get tired of sporting a business suit every morning?
The walk to the Hart Senate building where the Senator’s office is takes my breath away. The cherry blossom trees are not currently in bloom but are a work of art to walk by every morning. I am definitely looking forward to the cherry blossom blooming festival at the end of March. Nevertheless, the tress, immense buildings, great structures, and monuments that hug the district are a masterpiece. I can walk forever in this town. Yesterday I got lost for 45 minutes trying to find the C-SPAN building but did not mind it at all. I saw jaw dropping buildings, ate from a street cart, and talked to some really friendly D.C. residents. Falling deeper in love by the minute.
The eight-hour shifts at work fly by. Most of the time I am on the phone speaking to constituents from the NY area and screening their calls. A large percent of them just need someone to vent to. The calls that regard a specific bill that is in the works need to be recorded. For example, if someone calls voicing a negative opinion about the new PIPA and/or SOPA acts I have to record on the computer where they are calling from, their stance on the issue, and why they feel that way. At the end of the day I create a memo of all the calls and forward it to the Senator. The interns are also in charge of organizing the correspondence by departments.
Every now and then we get side projects to work on in-between phone calls. Three of my favorite projects have been when I had to monitor the Secretary of Defense briefing on live TV. I was given a hard copy of his speech and I had to read through it while he spoke and note if he deviated from it at all. Another fun assignment consisted of me researching how much funding each county of NY had received in the last five years for Women’s rights. I had to create a spreadsheet and divide it by state and city funding for each year, per county. Thirdly, creating memos is always fun. The first memo I ever had to do was for Israel and Turkey relations. They consist of a lot of research and reading, which helps you gain more awareness of the situation you are working with. Nonetheless, they are keeping us interns busy. I am learning a lot.
In order to succeed here I will need to network, network, and network. But most importantly maintain a responsible and respectful relationship with my co-workers and supervisor. This will be done by making it to work 15 minutes early, not missing a day of work, maintaining appropriate communication, and a high level or professionalism in the office. This entitles everything from dressing conservatively, getting all my work done on time, and focusing on what I can do to use my time wisely. There is no such thing as too much networking or too much professionalism at the work place.
I have learned a great deal of real world experiences this week and eagerly looking forward to what next week has to offer.