Can I Call Myself a Local, Yet?

Every Friday evening, after a long week of work, the girls of 404 plan out the museums that we will visit the following Saturday. I have been told many times, “You have plenty of time to see things. You are there for two months!” However, we cannot visit museums on the weekdays because they close at 5PM. Thus, we are forced to make a game plan to cram it in on Saturdays and Sundays. So far, we have hit every “major” museum, so I am excited to start doing activities that are more known to locals as opposed to tourists.

Having fun in D.C. is very easy to do. There are plenty of restaurants or free events, you just have to keep your eyes peeled for them. The greatest recommendation I have is from my boss. She told me to always look at the Washington Post for their weekly “Going Out Guide.” It will tell you everything you need to know for that week. Then on Thursdays, they post their “Weekend Guide,” which will tell you all about D.C.’s weekend nightlife.

The girls of 404 have a goal—try not to eat anything that we can get in Arizona.

Sometimes that is hard, because food and entertainment can get a bit pricy here in D.C., but talking to residents is a really awesome way to find local eateries. Everywhere we go, we always ask, “where is a great place to eat, that is reasonably priced?” I promise, they do exist! My favorite find is Good Stuff Eatery in Georgetown.

A cool, not typical activity that we do every week is attend a new church every Sunday. The Catholic churches here in D.C. are undeniably prettier than the ones in Arizona. We pick an area, and go to church to see the stained glass, architecture, and experience the culture of that area. My favorite church to attend is St. Augustine, which is only a mile or two from where we are staying in WISH. It is a historically Black Catholic church, and they have a gospel choir unlike one I have ever heard. The community is very welcoming, and I leave there rejuvenated for the week to come. Next Sunday, we are going to go to the Basilica. It is an amazing work of art with a lot of historical background.

Ahhh, the dreaded task of networking…

Last week I talked about how difficult it was for me to network in a room where I did not know a single soul. My advice: suck it up, there are a lot of people in that room who do not know anyone, too. Secondly, find a good conversation starter—look at their nametag and see where they work or who they are. I have found that literally introducing yourself is the best way to get your foot in the door. A little bit of confidence goes a long way.

You can simply say, “I have never heard of your organization before, can you tell me a little about what you do?” I have come to find that people in Washington D.C. love to talk about themselves. Generally, they are not shy to tell you what they do and their accomplishments. Remember, that is only to your benefit. When you are in D.C., you will be a sponge, literally soaking up information. Take it as an opportunity to learn.

I like to remind people to actively listen, even if people are a bit pompous in how they present themselves. Regardless, you are walking away with more information that what you had—it is only a benefit to you. Also, take it in, and ask thoughtful questions. That is how I was able to gain a key contact for my lobbying firm without actively trying. Not to mention, that was the very day that I felt awkward being in the room.

Putting yourself out there is the best advice that I can offer anyone.

My biggest take away from this week was a conversation that I had with my boss about the politics war. Our discussion focused mainly on the conflicts in the Middle East. It made me question my views, and I appreciated being challenged on my stance. I learned this week that is “okay” to defend what you believe, even if you are the minority in the room. This week, I also learned much about—what I call—the art form of lobbying. With healthcare and the National Defense Authorization Act in cue to vote, it has been a crazy time. I have had the opportunity to sit in on discussions and conferences calls with top executives, and it has been an amazing experience.

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