My 10 week internship at the U.S. House of Representative in DC is complete and it’s only a matter of time before I start getting nostalgic for walking to the subway every morning in my flats and pencil skirt listening to the Workday Pop playlist on Spotify. For now, I’m okay with sitting in my big bed at home in Palm Springs reflecting on some final things I’ve learned.
- Make the most of every internship and take mental notes on the staff. I didn’t get to work as closely with some of the staff compared to others but for me, just paying attention to how they handle things and interact with one another was a great learning experience. These are people who had been in my position before and obviously figured it out and knew what they were doing in order to get where they are today.
- Make friends with the other interns. I was lucky enough to have a couple GREAT interns that I got close with. We even hung out outside of the office. First of all, this just makes work so much more bearable. Going in to a new office, making friends with interns that have been there for a while is the best way to get a good foot in the door. They already know what they’re doing and are more likely to take your questions than the staff. Making friends with interns that enter the office after you’ve been there, aside from just being kind, is a great way to get leadership experience. Having the opportunity to show someone the ropes in an office setting is real-life experience for being a real-life boss.
- Have the right ears. Whenever I start in a new office, I will quickly become aware of the food chain – who listens to whom and whose word is most valued. It’s not always clear who is actually in charge and who values whose word the most, but this will inevitably benefit you at some point in time. Find out whose ear is the most valuable to have, and take it.
- Keep a notepad. So basic, but so useful. Sometimes a notepad is just necessary for taking calls and other office businesses, but I also use mine to write down tips and directions that I may need in the future (like how to open the common drive or transfer a call straight to voicemail). Going back in my notes has helped me more than once and I’ve never once regretted writing something down. I also have terrible short-term memory. It’s saved me from asking my supervisor a lot of questions.
- Your shoes will hurt. My biggest mistake of the whole internship was probably wearing brand new shoes and not wearing band aids my first week. I HIGHLY recommend going all out, meaning wearing nylon socks, band aids before you even get blisters (maybe even liquid band aids), spray-on powder deodorant to keep flats from not smelling, and walking to work in an extra pair of sandals. You’re welcome ;)
Finally, one of the most important things this internship taught me was to find something you really love to do, and make that your career. Whether it’s something you’re really passionate about, in a field you really want to make a difference in, or something you’re really good at. Your career isn’t just a way of making a living, it’s the way you spend most of your life. Now I’m determined to find a way to be both happy and successful.