Lessons from inside the Beltway

Posted on Saturday, Jul 16, 2016

Free food, interesting people, and new adventures are just a few of the things you can experience in Washington, D.C. A paradise for interns, it is widely known that thousands of young people are looking to make their mark and find their permanent place inside the beltway every summer. It’s easy to believe that the long hours you spend in the office every day will define your experience in D.C., but there are far greater opportunities for growth outside of the office than in.

I want to be clear when I say that work is important. It’s the entire reason anyone makes the journey to D.C. in the first place – to find themselves gainfully employed in a meaningful profession. What I am suggesting is not to ignore the responsibilities of the workplace, rather, to embrace the potential of friendly networking and adventure seeking. This all begins with your 9 to 5. 

The first step you can take is to recognize your fellow interns as more than just colleagues. Once you begin to form a closer relationship with them you will find life in the office more enjoyable. Trust and a genuine care for your co-workers will lead to hangouts after work, adventures during lunchtime, and more productiveness as you feel better about being at work every day.

The second step to maximizing your potential in D.C. is to constantly look for insider info. This means talking to the co-workers who have lived in Washington for years. Find out about the best restaurants, most underrated comedy clubs, fun events they hear about, or generally interesting things only a local would know. Once you get the scoop, don’t hesitate to invite others to accompany you to these newfound gems – they’re sure to be a hit.

The third step comes only with a spirit of adventure. Getting outside of your comfort zone to attend events and travel to new places is the best way to make lasting memories of your time in D.C. Combine this with the new friends you’ve made in your office and there’s no way you will have a bad time (at the very least, you will come away with a good story).

Washington, D.C. has to be the best place in the world to be an intern. With countless free receptions every night on the Hill, endless food options for lunch, and fun nightlife, it’s a city just waiting for you to jump in. Take full advantage while you can – the summer will fly by!

David Heath
The Wilderness Society
Washington, D.C.