The Most Important Thing to Keep in Mind When Starting Your Internship

Posted on Wednesday, Jan 30, 2019

When you’re working in an office full of legislative geniuses (two of my staffers went to ivy league schools for crying out loud!!), it’s easy to feel incompetent. Every single person in the office has a well thought out opinion on practically any political issue you could possibly think of.

From the first day, I felt as though I was frantically treading water to keep my head above the sea of information being thrown at me. I was intimidated, to say the least. As I began working on small projects, most of which included reading a small piece of legislation or an article and analyzing it, I began to realize how much I was learning, as well as how much I still had to learn. However, it wasn’t until an after business hours chat with one of my co-workers that I had a very important revelation; all of these people are so well-informed because it is their job. While another intern and I got the low down on all of our staffers and how the office functions, it became clear that none of these people came here as the all-knowing political prodigies that I perceived them to be. They acquired their knowledge through projects at work, just like I had been doing.

In the past two weeks, I’ve learned more than I would have ever guessed, and I can only imagine all I will have gained by the time my internship concludes in May. These people have been adding to their collection of mental archives far longer than I have. As an intern, no one expects you to have as broad of a knowledge base as the legislative assistant who graduated from Princeton and has been working on the hill for years.

In retrospect, my advice would be to always remember the main purpose of an internship is to LEARN. It’s natural to be intimidated as a new comer to any professional setting. However, the chance to be surrounded by people who are practically experts on your field of interest is a rare one, so take advantage of it! Holding back on asking questions at the risk of seeming incompetent is the greatest injustice you could do to those who have given you this opportunity.

Emily Pearce
Office of Congressman Will Hurd
Washington, D.C. | spring 2019