Three Reasons My D.C. Internship is One of the Most Valuable Experiences I’ve Had in College

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 17, 2019

While I have certainly enjoyed my time here so far and would not trade it or the months I have remaining in my internship for the world, I am pretty sure at this point that Washington, D.C. is not the place for me in the long-term. I just miss Texas too much to consider putting down roots here, and that’s okay! The point of an internship, when it comes down to it, is to learn, and this is one of many lessons I’ve learned here. Despite the fact that I’m not planning to stay and am missing home, there are so many wonderful and important things that I have realized as a result of this internship, which really make me feel grateful to have had this opportunity. Here are three of the biggest things about this internship that have been unexpected and incredible, and it’s by no means an exhaustive list:
 
  1. Independence
Probably the number-one best thing about my internship experience has been the way it’s taught me how to be truly independent. As a junior in college, I kind of thought that I had the whole fending for myself thing down, but living and working in a city that I was completely unfamiliar with, learning the Metro (I now consider myself a pro), and leaving behind my good friends and family in Texas have all challenged me more than I would’ve expected and have given me the chance to prove to myself that I am up to those challenges. I have a lot more confidence in myself and my ability to adapt to changing situations than I did before, and I think that my experiences here have helped me develop skills that will be invaluable for the rest of my life.
 
  1. Amazing People
From my roommates to other interns in the program to my coworkers, this experience has allowed me to meet and get to know such incredible people, many of whom I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. If this was the only positive thing on my list, then I would still consider this internship experience worthwhile, because I’m so incredibly grateful for all the friends I’ve made. I truly believe that every one of them will change the world someday, and I’ll be able to say I knew them when! Plus, I know that a lot of my friends on the program have fallen in love with D.C. (so it definitely does happen!), so once I am back in Texas, if I ever get the urge to come back to D.C. for a visit, I’ll know who to call!
 
  1. I have a newfound love (more than before) for the Lone Star State

While I always considered myself a proud Texan, it wasn’t until I left for an extended period of time that I realized how proud I am to call Texas home. It’s just such a good place, y’all. My best advice for future interns is: make every Whataburger run count, really savor that grocery shopping trip to HEB, say howdy every chance you get, and just take the time to really appreciate all the little, amazingly Texan things that we, or at least I, took for granted before I came to D.C. Texas and Texas A&M are really something special, cheesiness aside, and I’m glad I had this internship to really drive that home, in a way that I don’t think would’ve happened if I’d never left. And while I talk about Texas all the time (I’m sure my coworkers are annoyed and/or confused), I also like to remind myself how cool it is that I get to live and work for a semester in our nation’s capital.

Eliza Thomas
U.S. Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. | spring 2019