In the beginning of the summer, the one lesson that stood out to me was proper escalator etiquette. Stand on the right, pass on the left and try not to confuse the two especially at big stations such as Union or Gallery Place (you will get run over)! I also learned how to navigate my way around the Metro system (definitely a survival skill) and our first weekend in D.C. was also the first time I ever used Uber. I realized how friendly most people are and that they’re all knowledgeable on the importance of networking. One of the other important things that I learned during our first week is that there are a lot of museums and other free activities in the D.C. Metro area, so you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the city.
In our second week of being in Washington, D.C. I started working on my first grant proposal at my internship site. I learned that writing a grant is fairly similar to writing a paper for college. There is also quite a bit of research that goes into writing a proposal because it’s important ensuring that details about the organization are accurate. Writing a grant proposal is also a team effort (especially for an intern) because I needed to speak with some of the employees so that they could give me more details about certain programs. During this time I was also responsible for researching different schools and finding their contact information in order to reach out to them about an annual event. It was difficult to find contact information for certain schools and I didn’t realize how time consuming it was going to be. That week I was also sent to the Welcome Center to talk to anyone who stopped by for an event that had been canceled. The importance of knowing the organization and communication skills were evident in this situation as I had so speak to a congresswoman, a board member and people interested in receiving assistance from the organization.
By the third week, I was miserable with a head cold. Fortunately, I forced myself out to the Congressional baseball game and I had a good time. This is when I couldn’t help but laugh and think about the importance of hygiene, especially when using public transportation. The metro was so busy that we were crammed in like sardines and all I could think of was Dove body wash and deodorant commercials! The following week I was put in charge of a community service project that a family wanted to participate in. I learned that I had to be well organized and had to properly plan (it had been a while since I was in charge of an event) in order for the event to run smoothly. Luckily, everything went well and the family and my coworkers were happy with the result. This was also the week that I first used the city bus instead of the subway, thankfully for Google maps it’s just as easy as the metro to navigate. It’s also easy to forget where we are and that different cities in Virginia and Maryland are only a few minutes away. The most interesting thing that I learned while doing research on Washington, DC was that it took 83 years for the Washington National Cathedral to be finished.
I started my BIS 401 course at the end of June. I immediately learned that my professor for that course had also done an internship in Washington, DC. This was also the week that my internship site was able to announce that Amazon had decided to partner with them. Amazon has promised to match any new or increased donations that are made by December 31, 2017 (think about making a donation)! The importance of outreach for a nonprofit was evident this week because it’s when I began reaching out to different schools to notify them about the Friendship Walks that the organization holds. That week I had also learned that my little cousin made the 2017 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team (pretty great accomplishment). Last week, I learned that there are a decent amount of scholarships for graduate school. There is also a Public Service Loan Forgiveness program for those who work in public service for ten years and make consistent payments on their student loans. I hope that I don’t have to use the program, but it’s good to be informed.
Now, we are only ten days away from finishing up our internships. Over these past few weeks I’ve learned a lot but the most significant “lessons learned” from being in the Capital scholars program is the importance of building good relationships with people in order to benefit more from networking. I also believe that something significant that has been reinforced is that having confidence and great communication skills help you be more professional. Learning to navigate the metro system was also something significant, especially because we enjoy traveling to D.C. and New York. Getting experience in writing and researching grant proposals is also significant because it’s a valuable skill that could be beneficial in my future career. Overall, one of the most significant things that I learned is how challenging it is to work at a nonprofit organization but with good communication skills and the motivation to reach out to others, the work can get done.