While D.C. and Phoenix (Tempe) definitely have plenty of similarities, there are striking differences between these two cities. Other than the disgusting humidity along with the heat, which my hair and face are still taking awhile to adjust to, I am absolutely loving living in Washington, D.C. I have visited here with my family before when I was about junior-high age; however, I never had to live and work in this fast-paced environment for an extended period of time. I love how much history is here, and on the east coast in general. I, also, love all of the free attractions with the Smithsonian Museums and Monuments. Besides all of the fun, touristy sites though, living in this city forces one to grow up really fast. While the housing is similar to dorm life back on ASU’s campus, one doesn’t have access to a dining hall or “POD Market” to grab a quick meal. Even more so than living in Tempe, or Phoenix where I grew up, one has to truly take care of him/ herself, such as always acting professionally and networking and learning how to transport around a new environment on the metro system.
I would definitely recommend everyone to at least visit, if not live in, D.C. I believe everyone should visit their capital city of their country at least once in their lifetime. If one didn’t already have a strong affiliation to his/ her nation, visiting such historical, impactful landmarks will instill that ‘Merican Pride. In addition to just visiting the capital for a short time, there are many benefits to working in the D.C. environment for a longer time frame, and I believe one doesn’t realize all that goes on here until he/ she is enveloped in it. Aside from legal or political careers, there is an abundance of diverse jobs in D.C. that one would not initially think about. Even within my Capital Scholars group, we clearly depict the different opportunities available here, from some working on the Hill to think tanks to lobby firms to the Peace Corp. to medical organizations to a nonprofit. The opportunities truly are endless here if you are passionate about making a difference within your field. Thus, I would suggest everyone to not only visit our great capital, but for college students to take some time and intern in this fast-paced lifestyle and work on your passion in this environment. While it would be nice to be closer to family sometimes, and I would prefer the dry, blazing heat to this humid, muggy heat, I can see myself working in D.C. at some point in my life. I love this city, and would prefer it to Phoenix at times.
Aside from traditional learning, I have learned that family really is that important, and people can be truly caring. As my grandfather passed away the morning I flew out to D.C. for my new life here, I was able to fly back home to Phoenix this past weekend from Saturday to Wednesday morning on a red-eye flight. It was so good to be excused from work and be able to see my family and go through the funeral services with them, and I was pleasantly surprised at how sympathetic my internship coordinator, department directors, and fellow interns were. They let me have as much time as I needed for this trip, and although I intended on flying back in time to make a big all-staff meeting, transportation had another idea. While it was frustrating that I was running late after a cancelled flight, transfer to a new connecting flight, and a shut-down metrorail, I was again pleasantly surprised when I found a shirt, a rosary, and cute cards from my Capital Scholars roommates expressing their sympathy on my bed. Later, I was surprised yet again when a few of the guys brought over flowers for me that night as well. Thus, I have learned how kind and caring people can be, which has been such a great experience.
Along the more academic side, I learned quite a bit at a think tank workshop through the Leadership Institute the night after I flew back here and went to work. Although exhausted, it was a substantial learning opportunity as we were exposed to accomplished scholars who work or have worked in think tanks. I gained a greater understanding of the difference between 501c3’s and 501c4’s. Think tanks are 501c3’s, and their primary role is to research and educate others, such as working on huge theses, shorter abstracts, or pamphlets, for the use of Congress or the White House. On the other hand, 501c4’s are the lobbying firms that are allowed to influence legislators to work on a certain issue and Political Action Committees (PACs) can fund different campaigning efforts. The following day I skipped the rugby practice thinking, “how often would I be able to go to a Congressional Baseball Game with a reception beforehand?” As one of my fellow interns got some of us connections into the National Republican Club of Capitol Hill, it was interesting to witness richer people “tailgate” if you will before the baseball game. Even there, no matter where you were sitting in the crowd or who you politically affiliated yourself with, it was the most patriotic game I had ever been to.
I think I am also learning the meaning behind “work hard, play hard.” After being worn out Friday, Saturday morning I woke up early to catch a ride in order to make it to an all-day rugby tournament nearby. It was a lot of fun, and as there were three different teams competing, my team did well and went on to the semi-finals, and our most competitive team did very well. This was another learning experience as I had never been at a tournament with both guys and girls at, and it was my first time competing in 7’s versus the college 15’s. Later that night, I met up with my Capital Scholar roommates to see the stunning Jefferson, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorials at night. They were all truly sights to see. Some of the weekend was also spent relaxing, doing errands, and talking to my boyfriend before he went on a sub cruise and didn’t have his phone or a way to contact while he’s on a sub for awhile. Lastly, while I had previously attended and had a fun experience, one of my Capital Scholars roommates got to enjoy St. Augustine’s, the Black Catholic Church, for the first time with myself and my other roommates.
As far as my internship work, I got put on some new assignments recently under a different department with the Policy team. While the work can be rather tedious looking through reports and putting my findings in spreadsheets, I realize it is helpful towards some pro-life work the Family Research Council is working on. Thus, I am learning to be flexible and versatile in the work I am doing for my internship as well, and am always ready to help out a department.
Until next time,