7 Tips to Help You Succeed in D.C. (and in life)

Posted on Thursday, Apr 13, 2017

Ever thought about packing up and moving across the country? Maybe you need something new; maybe you want to push yourself to new independent heights. Well, if you’ve thought about moving to Washington, D.C. I hope you listen to yourself and figure out how to make that dream happen. Whether it’s for years or for a semester, D.C. shows you who you are. In the most extreme political bubble, surrounded by the most competitive people in the nation, even a short amount of time will pull out your strengths and weaknesses. When you do decide to go, I recommend you:
  1. Be genuine- you’re supposed to “network the hell outta D.C.”, but it’s important that you build on new relationships. Gain the trust of others if you really want a contact that will help you in the future.
  2. Be open to new experiences- don’t pass up an opportunity that you think you’ll learn from. Also, you don’t have an opinion on the work you’re working on starting out. Answering those calls and making hundreds of copies makes a lot of lives easier in the office, be the one people can call on.
  3. Come prepared- especially when starting to look for a job. Don’t play down the experiences you’ve had (but don’t oversell the truth) on your resume. Don’t tell others you’re just opening mail for a department, you have to sell your skills by the way you talk about and frame yourself.
  4. Leverage your mentor/supervisor relationship- force them to meet up with you. If you’re lucky you’ll have one that takes you to lunch and calls to catch up after you’ve left. Aim for that.
  5. Be proactive- if there’s something you know your department is working on or starting, think ahead. You should be the intern that organized the supply closet and found a more efficient way to complete your tasks, not the one on their phone all day.
  6. Be willing to admit mistakes or that you don’t know what you’re doing- ask intelligent questions and exhaust your resources. Your supervisor should rather repeat himself than you mess up a project you’ve been working all day because you’re afraid to communicate.
  7. Compete with yourself, not others- don’t try to bring others down. People see through it and they don’t like it, so make yourself and your team better.
Don’t waste time. Get here as soon as you can and learn how to make the difference you want to make in life. What are you waiting for?

Kelli Regan
The Heritage Foundation
Washington, D.C. | Spring 2017