12 Aug

Parting Words

Last spring I read a lot about readjustment, all the weird homesicknesses and whatnot that one feels upon returning from study abroad, a sense of being stuck between two cultures because, in a more realistic version of the teenage statement, nobody understands you. Somehow that hasn’t happened yet on the way back from Russia, though there’s a lot I miss.

But I feel like some kind of adjustment phase will hit when I leave DC. At the risk of hyperbole, there is nothing like living here—at the center of all things. There’s an element of elation too from living alone, from finally feeling independent. Which, while not the sole purpose of my internship, was my motivation in living away from home for two months after doing it all year, and does fit into the prospect of career exploration. After all, how can I think about where I might live next year if I’ve never dealt with all the joys and hassles of grocery shopping, having fun, and recovering from my moldy nut encounter?

It will be strange to feel that I’m no longer on Capitol Hill, that I no longer have a hand or even a pinkie fingernail in helping the gears of Congress churn, albeit slowly. This internship has definitely made me more interested in national news and politics, something I’ve been trying to feel for a long time. It has made me feel more confident in the value of the things I care about, and convinced me that I really do want to be active in my community.

(That said, it hasn’t convinced me to go to law school. I cannot think of anything that motivates me to go to law school.)

While I head to my grandma’s house to see her and read and write and relax, I’ll leave with some thoughts of what I might do next time, or what you could do in my case:

  • Learn the famous Members of Congress (not just Pelosi). Know their faces and their issues. Not only will fetching office supplies be more fun, but the staffers know almost everyone, and you’ll appear better informed.
  • Organize your news reading. This gradually became a necessity over the summer, as the number of career-type blogs and foreign affairs sites I was reading rapidly increased. Personally, I have to make plus for feedly (RSS reader for blogs, tumblrs, whatever else you like), and unroll.me, which unsubscribes you even from the sites that do not comprehend “unsubscribe.” A godsend.
  • Have a few documents ready on your computer at all times: a resume, a list of questions that can easily be tailored to a professional in certain industries, and some language for a sample letter of recommendation—for yourself.
  • Write down what you do at work every day—I jot down notes on the steno pads we use for all the other little notes—and ask if it’s okay to take home the memos you wrote for a portfolio.

Thank you to the Dickinson Career Center for their financial support through the Internship Grant, intellectual support through the Internship Notation Program, and broad support through the staff, alumni, and events they organized. Thank you to the Illinois State Society for awarding me an intern scholarship to help fill in some of those gaps at the end of the summer. Thank you to everyone who met with me, bought me coffee, and supported me in becoming a real human being. It’s been fantastic.

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