Tips for DC Interns

LinkTank, a networking and events service based in Washington D.C., recently issued a call for advice for DC interns. Here’s what I emailed them; it reflects my personal experience and choices in my time interning at The American Interest, and is not as helpful for people who don’t slug in every day or live at home with their families. Or for people who aren’t eccentric. Nonetheless, hopefully it’s worth something.

Read a lot, find who writes what you like, find their contact info, and ask them to sit down with you for coffee.

Do all the extra work, go all the extra miles.

Go to as many events around the city as possible. You’ll meet interesting people, hear interesting (and boring) things, and get into the groove of the city.

Three rules for success in our business- always be writing, always be reading, and always be meeting people.

Bear in mind that DC interns are more attractive on average than interns in other places, even LA…

Have a favorite customized coffee, a coffee joke to go with it, and a favorite coffee shop to be a regular in. Then get to know all the baristas (regardless of age or sex, you males out there…)

It’s actually easier to meet higher-ups in a meaningful way than you think it is.

Go to a hearing with Senator John McCain if you can find one. Particularly a confirmation hearing. Just do it. You’ll experience American history.

Read a lot of thoughtful magazines and journals; some of the best include The American Interest, Democracy, National Affairs, Foreign Affairs, and the like.

Find the House of Cards theme on Youtube and listen to it on loop when you’re suiting up in the morning. It makes you feel badass.

Say good morning to your favorite buildings or statues when you walk or commute to work- the Pentagon, the Treasury, Nathan Hale, General Pershing, etc.

Don’t give money to beggars on the street. Save it for the street musicians- they’re earning it. And whenever there’s a brass band out, stay for at least three songs.

If you meet someone who’s doing something interesting, always ask them if you can sit down with them for coffee. They might give you interesting connections and reflections.

Visit as many offices of organizations you’re interested in as possible, more opportunities might arise.

The green CH-53 Sikorsky choppers with white tops are the Presidential choppers, but the President is only in them if there are three flying in formation.

GET AN UMBRELLA.

Take at least one trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island and stay there a while- reflect on the quotes there while you walk through the woods.

When you’re walking through the city, always be aware of how important the things that happen here are, and know that you are part of the process.

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