What to Do When You Should Probably Be Working

Posted on Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Washington, D.C. is often considered the mecca of American heritage. From museums to happy hours, the experience of an intern in our nation’s capital contains no shortage of ways to spend free time immersing yourself in the traditions of America’s past and present leaders. But there is an entirely other – and for me, unexpected – face of the city that can be explored between the hours of 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.  

Unlike what many contrarian voices in United States politics would like you to believe, a monumental amount of the city’s happenings occur behind wide-open doors. As an intern – with supervisor approval, of course – you’ll have the opportunity to witness in-real-time what others will be reading about in tomorrow’s news. Within my few short weeks at The Heritage Foundation, I’ve had the opportunity to see some things that would make any policy wonk or connoisseur of political theatrics beyond excited. Everything from Congressional hearings – be it the thirty-minute Martin Shkreli spat or the seven-hour Apple vs. FBI grinder – to thought-provoking think tank events, high-profile receptions, and ‘YUGE’ events such as the Conservative Political Action Conference. Such events are both readily available and easily accessible.  

Naturally, these events embody what many see as the quintessential D.C. experience – networking, a better understanding of how the world works, and the feeling that you’re getting the inside scoop on whatever issue drives your interest. Most importantly, as a college student; there’s also an abundance of free food. Oftentimes, your employer will ask you to serve as a scout at such events, but if this doesn’t happen, there are still plenty of other ways to find out about these happenings. Entire websites are dedicated to listing receptions and events around the city (a quick Google search does the trick), and any government-hosted event will likely be displayed on the agency, office, or committee website. All in all, keeping your eyes open will pay off – in far more ways than just finding events. The people you’ll meet and the things you’ll see here will define your time in D.C., and going out of your way to experience the city to its fullest will make the semester an absolutely unforgettable few months.

Christopher Oleska
The Heritage Foundation
Spring 2016 Washington D.C.


Tags: culture, D.C., extracurricular, Intern, life, networking, PPIP