A Weekend Well Spent in D.C.

Spending the weekend in Washington, DC, can be very fun and exciting. With so many different things to see, it’s nearly impossible to be bored as long as one is up for the adventure. Being the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, is home to not only the White House, but so many other beautiful buildings, museums, and breathtaking monuments. Whether you are here for a day or two, for the entire summer or even live here, there is so many things to do and explore that it would take days and even weeks of intense sightseeing to explore everything the way it should be explored.

Having the privilege of living in the nation’s capital for the summer of 2017, I was able to check out a lot of things here that most can only dream about seeing. I walked around the national mall, I was able to be part of a tour that took me inside of the U.S. Capitol Building as well as see many of the other beautiful things this place has to offer. One of my favorite places that I got to see was by far the national mall. Consisting of the U.S. Capitol building, the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, along with many others surroundings, the entire scenery put together is absolutely stunning. The Washington Monument is located right in the middle of the national mall and provides a great point of view at the city, including the front of the White House. It is a sight that one must see

 

with their own eyes to truly experience it. If you do get a change and your travels allow, make sure to go there at night as well because everything lit up looks beautiful as well. There are also many things to see as you walk around the national mall. For example, walking from the U.S. Capitol building towards the monument, you will pass the Smithsonian Castle and the National Air and Space Museum which are fun to visit and look at. These are only a few places that I have visited so far and as mentioned earlier, there are plenty of monuments and buildings to see and I encourage you to make the most out of your time here. Other places worth seeing is the Arlington National Cemetery, The Smithsonian Museums, all the monuments along with the remainder of what the city has to offer with its beauty.

And if you are someone that is not afraid to try new things,

especially food, D.C. has plenty of local restaurants, such as the DINER or Shake Shack, that serve delicious foods and can be found in different parts of the city and its subdivisions like Woodley Park, Adams Morgan or DuPont Circle. If you do get a chance, I would recommend you definitely stop by one or two new restaurants, just to get a taste of some local dishes that many enjoy.

 

Franky4Whether you are here for the weekend or for the entire summer, I hope that what I talked about makes you excited and gives you an idea of the things that you can do and what things are awaiting upon your arrival. I hope you get a chance to come visit and explore the beautiful place we get to call the nation’s capital. Thanks for reading.

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Finding Your Way

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It is May 22nd, and I’m writing this blog post, which was due on the 15th but with a hectic work schedule, an exciting social life on top of a failing online class. I’m lucky I remembered to do this assignment at all.

Before arriving in D.C. on May 27th, I had no internship, only a scheduled interview to look forward to. There was a sense of excitement mixed with the lingering anxiety from not knowing how secure I was in the program by not having locked in an internship and financial stress due to not having a job.

My student account was not $0.00, in fact, it reflected a debt to the tune of nearly $7,000. I was waiting for a miracle. Nevertheless, I was still excited about being in Washington D.C. for the first time.

I arrived at DCA, welcomed by an hour time change and terrible customer service. Something that’ll take you back is the sheer lack of decorum by some customer service workers. My first Uber driver was okay but my second driver didn’t help me with my while bags when I was getting in the car. He didn’t give me a hand with my bags while getting out either, and as I was unloading my things, he rushed me and threatened to take off if I didn’t move fast enough, all while in public! When I had my dad order a pizza for me because I had no money, the delivery person asked for a tip, blatant request for tips is a thing here. I generally tip, but to be asked for tips is something else.

After Memorial Day, I went to my interview with Environment Virginia and landed the job. It was a paid gig, and I was just glad I didn’t have to worry about income for the summer. Little did I know how awful canvassing work really is, the hours are odd, they’re later than normal, 1 pm – 9 pm. There is no office, so amenities you need, such as a restroom, aren’t there. There’s a quota that dictates your security at the job. One of my friends was actually fired for not meeting the quota. This position was not worth the stress I was under. I quit before they could formally fire me, there was a lot of communication between my supervisor and me about how much I needed the position.

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After the separation, my time after leaving was filled with boredom, anxiety, and depression. Seeing my roommates all leave for their jobs didn’t make it easy. My lack of income made it impossible to even leave my apartment. The heat didn’t allow for much walking. I was depressed and discouraged for a good three weeks. I was ready to give up and go home. I got to the point of feeling like a failure so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to ask my parents for money to buy food. A tip for anyone in this position, dating apps are your friend. If you’re hungry schedule a date, don’t ask the person to go out on a date, that’ll mean you’ll have to pay but get a date. It’s a free meal, and if you’re lucky you might actually have a great time! Stay safe and keep your wits about you.

Later in June, after applying for countless jobs and internships, I got an email about coming in for an interview at Cadogan & Associates and Woman Thrive. I had a phone interview with Woman Thrive and felt as though I knocked it out of the park, the next day I had an in-person interview with Cadogan & Associate. That interview went well, but I felt the need to not get my hopes up. On Monday, I got a call from the CEO, Liz, and she offered me a position. I was thrilled! Not only was I going to be working but the internship offered a stipend. I had one less thing to worry about. I took out a private loan, and although I hate being in debt, I knew it would cover the cost of the program. The university gave me a grant within the same timeframe of my loan request, it was bittersweet. I’d just took out a loan for more money than I actually needed but a grant over a loan is a blessing. However, I was still annoyed. The state of Illinois needs to get it together.

I started working immediately and my communication skills were put to great use. My boss, Liz, has been a tremendous teacher and each project is an opportunity to learn something that can’t be taught in a classroom. The work force is a new field and one that I never really thought I’d be in, I thought I’d stay in academia, but it’s opened my eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship and being my own boss. The work we do is all ethical, progressive and truly monumental as my boss is a Black woman who employs women of color and creates opportunities for advancement for disenfranchised people in the community she serves. Cadogan & Associates is a reflection of the ethics and talents of one woman whose identities should have keep her disempowered but instead are some of the many variables that drives her work and work ethic. Liz and the team are something to marvel at! I’m very happy and proud to be a part of her dream.

 

Social life in D.C. is great! You never know who you’re sitting next to and somehow now that I have a job I’m passionate about I find myself building possible business relationships already, even when I’m on dates. There’s cool places to go and see. The city is diverse, I’m surprised I don’t have to go to certain pockets of the city to see Black people. There is has a huge gentrification issue and other issues that are products of an imperialist capitalist white supremacist patriarchy nation but nevertheless it’s a great place.

 

If you find yourself lost and confused and broke during this internship, just know you’re not the first and won’t be the last. I’m not saying stick it out and I’m also not saying leave because each case is different but you will find your way.

Interning for a Member of Congress

My name is Colin Staske and I am a rising junior majoring in Political Science at the University of Illinois. If you’re thinking of interning in Washington, D.C, I definitely recommend that you start your search as early as possible, that way, you’ll find an internship that suits you the most.

Washington, D.C., is quite the city: from the many different (and free) museums that one can attend, to an eclectic cuisine, boundless opportunities, and sightseeing, the city has something for everyone. The Illinois in Washington program provides you a glimpse of what interning in D.C is like and if living here is for you.

I am currently interning with a Member of Congress and the experience has given me a greater insight into the legislative process ─ I have been lucky enough to research a topic, draft the findings into bill language and send it over to Legislative Council, (the department that actually writes the legislation) to be written into a discussion bill. My task range from answering calls from constituents and passing their messages along, responding to constituent mail, working with the senior staff on a multitude of different projects (press releases, bills, and committee markups). From my experiences, I have come to realise the extent that committees do to ensure the work of Congress continues. Without each committee fully functioning, the legislation itself would never be presented to the full house, to be voted on. I was lucky enough to be place with a Member of Congress that is currently a ranking member of their committee and had always been a policy area that interested me; if you are thinking of interning on the Hill, definitely make sure that you apply to not only Members from your state, but that they are also on committees that interest you.

If you do intern on the Hill, I highly suggest adding the Capital Grapevine to your favorite websites; it’s the best way to know of all the different receptions that occur, where there is a large amount of free food! Most of the time, you won’t even need dinner on the weekdays, if you bounce around to enough of the receptions.

One of my most memorable moments, while in D.C., was when Congressman Davis took us to the Speaker’s Balcony, where you have a view of what it is like on Inauguration Day. It was a breathtaking experience to see the city light up in front of your eyes. Out of all the government buildings, the Capitol building is certainly my favorite.

There has yet to be a dull moment in D.C. for me. Just exploring the city could take your entire duration ─ I recommend researching the area and making a list of all the things that interest you, otherwise, you’ll miss so much.

Adjusting to the Life of an Intern

6:15 AM BUZZZZZZZZZZZ

Snooze

6:30 AM BUZZZZZZZZZZZ

Snooze

6:45 AM BUZZZZZZZZZZZ

While the snooze button may seem like an intern’s best friend in the morning, the dangerous dance with this button can potentially be the beginning to a day full of metro delays and missed trains. Interning in Washington, DC is an invaluable experience. However, adjusting from the life of a college student to a full time intern can be difficult.

During an interview for an internship, I had the opportunity to ask the previous intern a few questions. I asked him if he had any advice for adjusting to DC and working. He told me that the hardest part was adjusting his sleep cycle. At first, I did not understand what he meant. Then, a few days into my internship, I completely understood. As a student, you may not have classes all day and can often stay up very late at night. As an intern, you often work from 9 AM to 5 PM and return home exhausted. You might even have a commute that makes your hours away from home longer.

This was just one of the many lessons I have learned thus far. After two weeks of trials and tribulations, I complied the five most important lessons I have learned about adjusting to life as an intern.

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  1. Give yourself plenty of time to get from point A to point B

Sure, Google Maps might say that your commute is only 15 minutes. But on the Metro, 15 minutes could easily turn into 20 or 25 with delays. Leaving five or ten minutes early gives you some buffer time and means you will not be running into your office.

 

  1. Avoid the snooze button

I think my roommates at school must have hated me because I am an avid fan of the snooze button. However, dipping in and out of sleep can leave your body confused. The snooze button can confuse your internal clock, leaving you groggy for the rest of the day. Instead, try to set one (or if you have to, two) alarms and wake up at the same time every day

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  1. Befriend your fellow interns

If you are lucky to work in an office with multiple interns, get their phone number, add them on Facebook, or follow them on Instagram. These people are going through the exact same experience as you and probably have similar interests. Work is so much more fun when you have some friends. At my internship, there are groups of interns spread through multiple offices. My favorite part of the day is lunch, when we all meet in the cafeteria to compare our days and share funny stories.

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  1. Don’t buy too many groceries at one time

On my first day in DC, I spent way too much money on groceries. While I definitely ate everything I bought, transporting the groceries from Target to my apartment was a nightmare. My friend and I had so many bags, we had to take an uber back instead of walking. A great way to manage your grocery shopping is to take reusable bags to the grocery stores so that you cannot buy more than you can fit in the bags.

 

  1. Explore the city!

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Every day when I walk to the metro after work, I call my dad. He asks me the same question, “how was your day?” Every day, I answer the same way, “amazing.” I love the place where I work and I love this city. However, I found it very difficult to make time to explore the city. My friends and I decided to make a “DC Bucket List” that is full of places to see – like the monuments, museums, and art galleries – and places to eat. Every weekend, we have decided to check off at least two or three things on our list. Interning in the capitol is an amazing experience, but make sure you take the time to fully appreciate everything DC has to offer.

My Time at Scenic America

Mladenik_Photo7Hi! My name is Grace and I am a student in the Illinois in Washington program for the Summer of 2017! I am currently a research, policy, and advocacy intern at Scenic America. Scenic America is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and promoting scenic beauty in America, particularly when it comes to scenic byways and community character. One of their bigger fights is stopping the construction of new billboards across America and my project is to research state billboard laws that dictate what a municipality or local government can or cannot do within their jurisdiction. Because I work Monday through Friday at the office, I am tasked with sorting mail, updating our donor base, and going through a process of archiving Scenic America’s older documents. Scenic America has its roots in the Lady Bird Johnson era and the creation of the Federal Highway Beautification Act, they have been an organization for 35 years! Some of the documents I come across are dated back to the 1970s and 80s!

 

Mladenik_Photo6Scenic America is located in Dupont Circle at the Historical Heurich House, also known as the Brewmaster’s Castle. It is pretty cool going to work at a mansion every day! Christian Heurich was a German immigrant that came to America and learned the trade of brewing from his father who was an innkeeper. Heurich had built and decorated the mansion with his second wife who unfortunately died shortly after the house was completed. Christian Heurich Brewing Company was the second largest brewing company in DC and had his brewing factory where the Kennedy Center sits today. The house was one of the first to have electricity and be completely fireproof which is very unusual in the late 1800s. Christian would marry a third time and then die in 1945 at the age of 102. He lived quite a prosperous life and left a great legacy to tell!

 

Mladenik_Photo5Working in this office is quite a treat because it succinctly lines up with Scenic America’s mission to preserve community character. It is also fun because the house has a garden in the back where I go to eat lunch every day! It’s a great little green area in the city to relax for my lunch hour and eat some awesome food truck food! It is little historical moments like Heurich House that gives Dupont Circle a little bit more character — not like it already has great livelihood with its restaurants, bars, and shops!

 

Outside of work, I have come to love this city more than I did before! It’s awesome to be so close to the zoo, a 10 minute Metro ride away from the Smithsonian museums, and a few minute stroll away from virtually anything to do in the city! I have come across some of the coolest places like Chinatown, the National Cathedral, and a national barbeque contest! Washington DC is like no other place because you can find high traffic, metropolitan areas but right nearby are some great walking trails and cute neighborhoods. One of the best weekends was the Fourth of July! Where else would you want to spend the nation’s Independence Day than the nation’s Capital? The coolest, but in my opinion, underrated museums is the Portrait Gallery! I also have captured a few good sunsets in DC. All in all, I don’t think you can ever be bored in a city quite like Washington DC! There’s still so much exploring to be done!

 

Mladenik_Photo1Last weekend I had to pleasure of visiting relatives in Richmond, Virginia! Richmond is about a 2 hour drive out from the city, but because I was visiting family, it felt like a breeze! We had so much to catch up on. It was a great experience visiting a more suburban city and made me miss home a little bit more! If you ever go to Richmond, visit their Edgar Allen Poe museum! It is a small museum dedicated to the creepy crawler author with some of his belongings he left behind before his mysterious death — I even saw a piece of his hair!

And finally, the Illinois in Washington program has given me so many awesome opportunities! Aside from hanging out with some of the other program participants and making new friends, we get to explore the city as a program! One of the best examples was touring the Capitol with Congressman Rodney Davis. It is quite different seeing the Rotunda empty and not full of tour groups! It was quite the awesome experience seeing the Capitol at night and watching the sunset from the Capitol balcony.

 

There have been a multitude of moments where I have appreciated the scenic beauty of the East Coast. Only increasing my motivation and passion to work for an organization like Scenic America. I thoroughly enjoy how my whole internship experience and time in Washington DC are interconnected. I will bring back to the Midwest some more appreciation for all that Illinois landscapes have to offer me!Mladenik_phot3

EEOC Internship

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“You are the ambassadors for the EEOC.”  This was one of the first things I was told during my time with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.  I assumed it essentially meant to be respectful and know that you are representing the entire agency.  Little did I know that I would be the first person many people will meet and talk to with hopes of justice for their discrimination.  I would be put into situations with people who have experienced difficulties and have no idea what to do.  I would have to bring comfort to people who have been fired, harassed, or not received promotions.  Emotions would be running high for them, and I would be expected to talk them through what is happening and what I believe is the best bet for their case.

Interning for the EEOC has truly been an experience that I would not give up for the world.  While there are plenty of other internships out there especially in a city like Washington DC, but the EEOC is different and much more hands on.  Other internships will have you answering phones, filing papers, and other office tasks, but not the EEOC.  Within a few weeks of working here, I have interviewed witnesses, conducted intake interviews, drafted memoranda and contact respondents when the charging party files a charge.  How many internships give college students the opportunity to do tasks such as talking with employees to get an understanding of or information into an alleged bad actor?

Klages_Photo3  The meat of the internship comes with the intake process.  Every day, the EEOC receives dozens of mail in intakes and a few “walk ins.”  Mail ins are when the Charging Party submits their information through the mail and usually their interview is conducted over the phone.  Walk ins on the other hand is when the Charging Party is physically in the office and the interview takes place in person.  During this time, our goal is gather as much information as possible from them and determine whether or not the EEOC will further investigate their case.  If we determine there is not enough evidence or that their charge is not within our jurisdiction, we let them know and remind them they can still file a charge with the EEOC though it is unlikely that we will investigate further.  If it appears there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation, then they file a charge and we inform them of our process.

Talking with people and gathering information has been my favorite part of this whole internship.  I have known for awhile that I want to go to law school, but I have always been hesitant as to what type of law I wanted to go into.  I never realized how interesting labor law is; every case that I have worked on has kept me interested.  I strongly feel that I have a better idea of what I want to see myself doing as a career.  Without this internship, I would go into law school without any general idea of what type of law I want to practice.

Osgood Center for International Studies

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When I got to Washington I still wasn’t sure what I would be doing for the summer. I didn’t find an internship until I had been here for a few days but in hindsight I’m happy I had to wait as long as I did for my current internship. This summer I am interning with Osgood Center for International Studies and the work has been incredibly educational and interesting to me. Going from stress filled days where I didn’t know if I would be able to find any internship that suited my interests to being hired for a job that allows me to learn from experts every day was really beyond what I hoped for when I arrived in DC.

My duties thus far have been to report on the events at different think tanks and “sponge up information” for my supervisors. The information and reports from myself and the other interns is then used to inform Osgood Center on what events they should have during the summer institute in late July and early August. A few things that I’ve learned from the first month or so in this internship are how to pick up on political leanings and bias effectively but also how to listen to someone I wholeheartedly disagree with and try to understand their viewpoints. I think both of these are pretty important skills going forward in my professional development, especially if I’m to continue working in a city like Washington.

I’ve had the ability to attend a number of different events at different DC think tanks and congressional hearings but a few have really stood out to me. The first was an event at Brookings Institution titled “All Measures Short of War” in which the speaker talked about the changing geopolitical environment as the US starts to scale back its efforts to act as a global hegemon. The speaker’s talking points and the discussion following were really interesting and left an impact on me as its still one of the more memorable and informative events I’ve attended. Another interesting event was at the American Enterprise Institute called “Kingpins and Corruption”. This event’s keynote speaker was Senator Marco Rubio and featured his own speech about curbing corruption and drug trafficking in Central and South America, later taking questions relating to a variety of subjects regarding the region. The panel that convened following Rubio’s remarks was quite diverse in their areas of expertise ranging from the finances of different cartels or other illegal entities to how Hamas and Iran fit into the picture of Central American drug trafficking. Very interesting range of subjects discussed here with some very impressive speakers. The last event that I’ll highlight was at Hudson Institute titled “Russian Interference: Past, Present, and Future” and was moderated by Fox News anchor Brett Baier. This was notable for the fiery debate between panelists that devolved into throwing different conspiracy theories at each other. While it was not the most informative event I have attended, it was entertaining and really showed the polarization that has been created in Washington during this new administration.

 

I have had a summer in Washington that has gone from incredibly stressful to being very rewarding and I really wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m really excited to learn even more from my colleagues and supervisors as well as the experts I get the opportunity to listen to every day.

 

My internship for this summer is in Congresswoman Jackie Walorski’s office.  She is a member of the House of Representatives and represents Indiana’s 2nd District.  She is currently in her third term in Congress and was appointed to the House Ways and Means Committee.  My office is in the Cannon House Office Building, and I have been enjoying the experience every day.  All of the staffers are younger ranging from early 20s to early 30s.  They all have been super welcoming, and I have not had any negative experiences working with them.  Besides me, there are two other interns that I work with on a daily basis.  We mostly get assigned equal work and stay in good communication throughout the day to evenly disperse work assigned to us.  My daily tasks range from ordering water jugs, delivering mail and newspapers, making coffee, giving Capitol tours, and answering phones.  These are all tasks that I expected as that is what interns do.  My favorite parts have been the substantive work that I have been able to do.  I frequently go to briefings in place of Legislative Assistants and take notes.  I then send am required to send briefing notes and memos to the corresponding LA.  I really enjoy going to these briefings as I have gained a lot of knowledge on topics outside of my main interest.  I’ve been able to learn a wide range of topics I never would have known before.  From municipal bonds to multiemployer pension plans to NASA Pluto missions to franchises offering higher education opportunities, there are always expert panels to deliver a great way to help that field.  One of the coolest aspects was during the NASA briefing when my name was picked out of a hat, and I won a NASA space pen.  Another awesome opportunity was to attend a briefing on the importance of nutritional supplements because the speaker was Christie Rampone.  She is a 3x Olympic Gold medalist and 2x World Cup winner who also was the United States Women’s Soccer team captain for many years.  Being able to meet someone so accomplished and able to stay at the top of her profession for so long was remarkable.  I even was lucky enough to get her autograph and take a picture with her.

OKeefe_Photo2Another awesome part of all these briefings is that most of them have free food for the attendees.  I’ve been able to finagle a good amount of free food so far this summer.

Other substantive work that has been a highlight of my internship is writing constituent letters to citizens in Indiana’s 2nd district.  These can be congratulatory letters for grants and awards to responses from constituent inquiry into Rep. Walorski’s stances on issues.  Currently I am also doing research for a new bill she is going to sponsor.  It would disperse proper claim benefits to WWII veterans that were exposed to mustard gas.  Doing this and beginning citizens casework files for problems they are facing really make me feel that my work is making a positive effect overall.  To close, I am really grateful of this great opportunity and will continue to work very hard and cherish my time in the nation’s capital.

The Truth About Working on Capitol Hill (Summer Intern Edition)

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When you think about the government and the people that work for it I am sure that many different people can give you many different opinions. But I am here to tell you that if those people have not lived a day working for the government especially on the hill, they are wrong. All of those opinions are all wrong; the negative ones, the positive ones, and especially the ones that say that they have it easy. It is a common opinion to think that everyone who works for the government has an extremely selfish motive and they are only working for themselves, but in truth they are working everyday to keep their jobs. Senators and Representatives are not the only ones who have to worry about losing their jobs after a certain amount of time; all of their staff do as well. Think about it, these are people are are voluntarily working and slaving 25 hours a day that don’t exist to better  almost a fourth of the population, most of them they don’t even know. All while just trying to maintain their sanity and keep their jobs. But of course, I digress.

The intern life is by no means even a fraction of what some of these people who work on the hill experience, but at times you can feel the high pressure and stress right along with them; it is certainly no cake walk. I know what you may be thinking, you are interning in DC and asked to write a blog and you make the whole thing negative?! No, I am simply reflecting on my experience. At the point in time when I am writing this I am at the halfway point of my internship and I have experienced it all. Great humbleness that I am able to work for the country I love, extreme stress to the point I feel like i might start crying at my desk, and intense joy to have some great co workers and working for such an amazing boss. Sometimes, the stress takes over the whole office, but that is just how it has to be; but that makes you realize how important and impactful what you are doing really is. If you can get so stressed over your job, and still spend multiple hours after your 9-6 work day working on it; you know that what you are doing will make some kind of difference to someone.

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When you work on Capitol Hill around all these people that some only see on the news, you realize how much media skews how DC residents live their lives. I can’t and won’t divulge so much in this blog because I think that all the tiny secrets and unravelings that you find out when working on the hill is what makes it so incredible. Plus, most people won’t believe me if I tell them anyway, it’s just kind of how it works out.

So no, I am not saying that I am not happy with my internship; quite the contrary. I am not one for politics actually but I have never learned so much about life, government, and politics in any other opportunity that I have been in. Regardless if this is what I would do my whole life, I have learned so much about how to just live my own life, and how to approach my work and career later in life. I cannot thank my staff and my boss enough for how much they have helped me learn and I am not sure if I would come back to the hill, but I am sure I will find myself interacting with my colleagues again in the future; on the hill or not. I work with a lot of Illini alumni and they have helped me with so much, even for outside of work, and it reminds me how much I love my Illini family. Plus, being staff gets you into some cool places!!

I think that it is funny how people complain that our system is so crooked and messed up, but they do not stop to think about how much people are actually trying to fix things. DC is a network that relies on everyone within it. For support, for guidance, and no one is better than anyone. Everyone asks for help, no one is special, because at the end of the day, everyone has one end goal. And that, is US.

Making Connections

Hey! My name is Josh Manning, and I am a summer intern for 2017. I am interning at the Law Media Group (LMG) Inc., which is a Public Relations firm. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me to do real work, be part of some really interesting projects, and learn hands-on. The people that I work with in my office are really fascinating people with great backgrounds in DC. The opportunities to connect and build your network while here are not only abundant, but are vital if you want to work in DC after graduation.

There are many different ways to form contacts here in DC. The most obvious of them is to get to know those in your office. Ask if they want to get some coffee sometime or see if they would mind if you joined them for lunch. They will usually enjoy the opportunity to talk to you and impart some of their knowledge. They have been new to this town too, so they know how valuable it is to get advice.

Another great example of how to form contacts is by contacting the Chief of Staff of your Representative from home. The Chief of Staff for Rep. Cheri Bustos was more than happy to meet with me when I asked. This is especially important if you are considering working on the Hill later on. You can never make too many contacts.

There are other ways to get to know people around the city as well. If you are in Greek life or clubs on campus, there is a pretty good chance that they have alumni clubs that operate in the DC area. For example, I have now attended a few events with my fraternity’s DC alumni club that have led to great opportunities to connect, free food, advice on job searching, and even contacts for when I graduate who may be able to help me gain employment. I would highly encourage everyone to research any such clubs that they could be a part of because they are set up to help each other navigate the professional world of this city.

The University of Illinois also has an alumni club here in DC. As part of your time here, you will probably have an event or two with this group. Many of the members have gone down similar paths as you will, so they are a great resource on how to get into this city coming from Illinois. They are more than happy to talk about their careers, their lives, their struggles, and their successes. Learn from what they say because you may find yourselves in the exact same circumstances one day.

Once you have made these contacts, make sure that you occasionally follow up with them to see how they are doing, thank them for their time, and ensure that they remember you if they end up having something available. Their time is valuable, so make sure that they know how much you appreciate that they gave some of it to you. Make the most out of your time here, and that includes opening some possibilities for after graduation. You will love it here!Manning_Photo