Lessons learned interning on capitol hill

These past few months living in Washington D.C. have been so fulfilling! From working a full-time (unpaid) internship, to taking two night classes, exploring Washington D.C., and other little responsibilities back home, life has been busy filled with hard work and hustle.

 
 

While in Washington D.C., I completed a nine week internship on Capitol Hill. Each day I learned something new and different about our federal government, politics, and the daily functions of life on Capitol Hill. However, I also learned a lot about who I am. 

I went into the experience with very little expectations and a desire to learn, absorb, and understand. The day before my junior year of college, I changed my major to Political Science and Sociology. Interning in Washington D.C. was my first experience with politics outside of the classroom- and I LOVED it! 

The goal coming to Washington D.C. for summer 2016 was to better gain an understanding of where I would like to direct my life and figure out what the heck I wanted to do with a Political Science degree. Before I started my internship, I set a few goals for myself. They were: 

  • To learn what I am passionate about,

  • Further my knowledge of politics, &

  • Discover more about what I would like to do after graduation.

 
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During my time of Capitol Hill, my desire to work with legislation and public policy was heightened through my internship. I learned a lot about who I am from this internship, from visiting The White House to attending a private lunch with the Congressman after he became a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, I have gained a sense of self. 

From personal characteristics to work ethic, I was constantly pushed to discover more. There were eight major impacts interning on Capitol Hill had on me this summer: 

Confidence: The first day of my internship I was beyond nervous, spending the entire night before freaking the heck out and running through the worst possible scenarios. After the first week or so, I began to feel more comfortable and by the end of the internship I learned the confidence is a key part of success. Confidence is believing in yourself and you have all the reasons to do so! 

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Trust: I believe that trust is an indicator of success because shows positive development. Not everyone can handle it all, so instill trust in others by your work ethic while also learning to trust others in the process as well. 

Work-Life Balance: Balancing the things most important to me while still remaining present at my internship was very difficult. After work each day, I was EXHAUSTED and the last thing I wanted to do was go to class or work out. Learning to balance classes, work, fitness/wellness, friends in DC, and friends/family back home in LA was a process. I learned the importance of prioritizing and motivating myself to get things done while not at work! I even started writing this blog again! 

Initiative: Do what people ask, and then some! At my internship, I learned to be aware and taking action. From asking if a visitor would like water to creating extra graphic designs for the Press Secretary or taking an additional five minutes to organize the front office, I learned to be active, aware, and assessing the needs of the atmosphere around me and bettering the situation for all. 

Leadership: At one point during my internship someone asked me what kind of leader I desire to be. Thinking back, I’ve realized the times I didn’t want to be a leader (or unintentionally) was when I was a leader the most. "Leadership is less about seeking applause & more about doing the best work you've ever done & having an impact you've never imagined." - Robin Sharma

Networking: More than an exchange of business cards in order to launch yourself further, Networking is an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding from those who have already experienced such things. It is another form of learning and connecting. Putting yourself out there to network can be intimidating (trust me!), but the reward is truly worth the risk!

Patience: When issues/ideas arise I want things to be taken care of right away. I hate waiting on answers and like things to be done immediately. I learned how to work on long term tasks and prioritize them by importance and time. I also learned that sometimes it just isn't possible to get things done right away and to take a deep breath and create a game plan. Sometimes it's necessary to take a step back, pause, & then, react. 

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A Thick Skin: This might have been one of the biggest personal developments and lessons for me while interning on The Hill. I realized how having a thick skin and not letting the little things affect me makes the better day. People will always try to bring you down, but remaining positive and not letting things get to you is so important! It also helped me be open to criticism, correction, and allow for flexibility. Learning to have a thick skin taught me to move on from awkward or unpleasant situations and work harder to better the next one. I learned to ignore the little pains in life and focus on finding inner happiness and peace with situations in turn lead to discovering more about yourself! 

 

I absolutely LOVED interning in Washington D.C. and on Capitol Hill. I learned so much about our government and about myself. I'm not sure where I am going, but my internship strengthened my love of politics and my love of Washington D.C. 

Questions about interning in Washington D.C., The Hill, or just interning in general? 

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