Where did you intern this Fall and what were some of your favorite projects?
I completed an internship at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars which is most frequently referred to as the Wilson Center. I worked specifically as a Staff Intern with the Middle East Program. It was part of my daily responsibilities to remain as knowledgeable as I possibly could about recent Middle East topics and issues. Every day I wrote and compiled a Middle East-North Africa News Brief and also handled the Program’s twitter. When the Middle East Program hosted events I wrote speaker bios and summaries of the events which were published on the Wilson Center website. Apart from that, I was frequently asked to write memos on specific topics in the Middle East in which I would then brief Aaron David Miller, the Program’s director. When Middle East-related publications were near ready for publication I was one of the last people to look them over for final edits. However, some of my favorite projects were those of my own in which I conducted my own research on topics like Hezbollah, ISIS after Raqqa, and Palestinian reconciliation. I was encouraged by those I worked for to do so and it was very rewarding to get feedback from them on my own work.
What did you learn in your classes?
I learned quite a few things in the two classes I was enrolled in throughout the semester. In the Internship Seminar course, I learned about the importance of public speaking, being able to effectively communicate with others, networking, and how to be a professional. Through in-class speaking and interviewing exercises I was able to become much more confident in these areas. Our professor gave us a lot of great advice when it came to business cards, resumes, cover letters and letters of recommendations. This was very beneficial. The other course I enrolled in was International and Foreign Policy Studies. In this class, I was able to obtain a more well-rounded understanding of the key issues that the world faces and how the United States responds to them. Both classes frequently had guest speakers come to class that provided us with helpful advice for our careers going forward. In International and Foreign Policy Studies we also had a few site visits to different think tanks, which I particularly enjoyed.
What did you do in your free time?
In my free time, which generally was on the weekends, I liked to go do something new every day. My friends and I would pick a new area and go exploring for the day. In the beginning of my time living in Washington, D.C. it was all about seeing the main attractions such as the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and Capitol Hill. However, as time went on we quickly realized there was a lot more to do and to see and figured we had to experience D.C. as much as we could before we had to leave. Some of my favorite places included Georgetown, DuPont Circle, and Alexandria by the waterfront. All three are not in the middle of D.C. but are fairly close and provide a different type of experience. Some of my favorite things I did throughout the semester was seeing a Washington Nationals and Washington Wizards game, kayaking on the Potomac River, getting a tour of the White House gardens, and trying out all the great food options throughout the city.
Recommendations for future DC interns?
My best piece of advice for future interns in D.C. would be to not stay in the apartment all day after work and on the weekends. Get out of your room, explore and meet as many new people as you can. Even those that aren’t on the same “team” as you. Push yourself out of your comfort zone. Networking is a big part of D.C. life and it is through this that you will get your next job or internship. Seek out professionals whom you admire and aspire to be like and meet with them to ask for advice and their careers. Furthermore, an internship is supposed to be a learning experience, but you have to approach this differently than you would a college lecture. Get ready to spend a lot of time listening. There will be no grades to dispute, and you should welcome constructive criticism about your work. And chances are that the people who will teach you the most are not the bosses you occasionally see at meetings, but your fellow interns and the young staffers sitting near you. Other than that, make time to go have fun! There are so many great things to do in D.C.