Surviving the Internship: Week 9

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The 10 weeks of my summer internship are almost over!! Before I go back to California, I want to be sure I’ve taken the time to fully process everything it has taught me. An experience like this is invaluable and the things that just being around the staff alone has taught me are lessons that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else. The things I’ve learned are things I want to carry with me and implement in the rest of my life. So obviously I’m going to write them down so I don’t forget…

  1. Say thank you. You’d be surprised to hear that most of the really vital lessons I’ve learned and examples I’ve drawn from in this internship are completely unrelated to politics or legislation, but have everything to do with dealing with people. Watching people interact in such a cutthroat environment says everything about their character and has everything to do with how much respect they get. I’ve learned that sometimes it is necessary to get salty during crunch time, but just saying “thank you” does measures for both how others see you and how you make others feel. It shows them that you acknowledge them and appreciate them, which are two things that tend to be lacking in a political office: feeling acknowledged and feeling appreciated. Saying thank you will not make you appear to be inferior or soft, just kind.
  1. Be yourself. This is like typical mom advice. But I really struggle with this in a professional setting. I think initially people don’t take me for someone that is as competent or serious as I’d like. I’m a girl, I’m young, I’m from California, I’m in a sorority, I’m social (compared to these people), I dress like so (meaning I don’t wear black pants every day), and looking my best actually means doing my hair and make-up. Of course, none of these are valid reasons to judge my intelligence, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still happen. I feel very strongly that I should be able to be both myself and respected at the same time, but also find myself toning it down a bit at times- not putting on a colorful necklace in the morning or holding in a witty comment. To be honest, there was a point where I felt so out of place because I was surrounded by people who just…weren’t like me. By the end of the internship, the chief of staff who rarely came out of his office, asked me to meet with him after work for pizza to discuss my future and get to know me better. Being yourself may not get everyone to like you, but it will get the right people to like you. At the end of the day, if someone judges you because your dress is cuter than theirs, then they just have bad taste.
  1. Do all the research you can before asking a question. In my last post, I wrote about how important the way you deliver/phrase a question is, but it’s still so important to ask the right questions. I’ve learned that in politics, there is such thing as a stupid question. There is almost always an answer at your fingertips. Most of the time it’s called Google. It just takes a little bit of effort on your part, but it’s better to spend the 5 minutes of your own time figuring it out on your own than to waste 30 seconds of a superior’s time asking them.
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