Internship Advice: What Former U.S. Presidents Really Meant

Posted on Monday, Jul 31, 2017

*Disclaimer: The explanation of the quotations is my interpretation of how they relate to my internship experience. The quotations were either said or attributed to the former presidents.*

1. George Washington, 1789-1797
“Associate yourself with Men of good Quality if you Esteem your own Reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad Company.”
Networking in D.C. is a major component of this internship experience and should not be overlooked! I came into the program knowing only a couple of people. Since I have been here, I have networked with interns in the program who have different policy interests. Washington, D.C., is a great place to meet people and get your name out. Your internship time is short, so my advice, of course coming from what Washington said, would be to make the most of your time and meet professional people at different events and settings. I set myself a weekly goal of meeting at least five new people or continuing to talk to the people that I have already met.
2. Thomas Jefferson, 1801-1809
"If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done."
This is a new and exciting opportunity, so naturally, there will be a lot going on. The purpose of your internship is to learn. You will continue to get better at your internship and become more efficient at your job. If you do not know something, say that you do not know it and ask a coworker or your supervisor to explain further. I strive each day to do my best and learn more about energy policy, because the skills and knowledge that I continue to gain at this internship will help me to have the career that I want in the near future.
3. Sam Houston, 1836-1838 & 1841-1844 (Republic of Texas)
"Texas will again lift its head and stand among the nations. It ought to do so, for no country upon the globe can compare with it in natural advantages."
#Texas. Texas is pretty great but there are many adventures beyond its borders. It is okay to miss your home state while you are here. You can send a postcard home or call your family.
As an intern in D.C. from Texas A&M University, it is important to represent the university and yourself well by referring to your personal values and the Aggie Core Values. 
4. Abraham Lincoln, 1861-1865
“And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.”
Washington, D.C., is an exciting city to live in. There are so many events and festivals happening every week, in addition to the museums and government buildings that I would recommend visiting. Consider what Lincoln said, it will not be the amount of time that you spend in D.C., but how you spend it. Focus on your internship but remember that there are museums and other events to enhance your experience here in D.C. I have enjoyed the balance between interning during the workweek and having fun sightseeing with roommates on the weekends.
5. Theodore Roosevelt, 1901-1909
"There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm."
Prior to attending Texas A&M University, I lived in a small town, so living in Washington, D.C., can be overwhelming at times because it is so large. Not to worry! There are many parks, gardens and biking trails to retreat back to nature. Even if it is not a “wilderness”, you can still find some peace under a large shade tree in the park next to the Capitol.  
6. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1933-1945
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
If you are working on a project and what you are doing is not going well, try reevaluating what you are doing and ask your coworkers for advice. Try doing it in a new way and see if you get a different result. Set goals on the project and do not give up! Your supervisors and mentors want you to succeed and are there to support you as you gain experience during your internship.
While you are in D.C., you can try new things and step out of your comfort zone. Socially, you can meet new people and talk with people who have different views (i.e. political, religious, etc.). I have found these conversations to be enlightening because I learn something new. You can try going to a museum or getting dinner with them.
Professionally, you can talk with your coworkers and network within the office. Meeting a coworker for coffee can provide you with a great opportunity to learn about their passions, their previous work experience, and their education. If that does not work because they are too busy, attend a meeting with them and ask them questions about the things you did not understand.
7. Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1969
“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
It is important to go in every morning to your internship with the intent to work hard and strive to do your best. Preparing today will move you one step closer to reaching your goal tomorrow. 
8. George H. W. Bush, 1989-1993
“Think about every problem, every challenge, we face. The solution to each starts with education.”
Attending Texas A&M University has set me up with a solid education relating to the environment and policy. Once in D.C., I used my university education as a foundation, and then continue to learn about energy policy and the Department of Energy from there. I have had many great conversations with coworkers by asking about what projects they are working on and why they are at the department. It is always interesting to learn what they studied in college and graduate school. The knowledge they gained during college and their previous jobs helps them to be more efficient problem solvers and have a better understanding of what they are doing now. I understand how important education is and why we should continue to learn more.
9. President Barack Obama, 2009-2017
Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
You have to be active in the pursuit of the change you want to see. You cannot sit back and think that someone else will make it happen. Be passionate; know what you believe and why you believe it. At the same time, listen to people with different opinions and learn from them. As a policy intern, I have an incredible opportunity to learn about the process and policies that have major impacts on what I study. The next step would be to go out there and be the change if I think something can and should be better.

Lynsie Patchke
U.S. Dept. of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Washington, D.C. | summer 2017