7 Reasons You Should Intern in DC, Even if You Plan to Stay in Texas Forever

Posted on Friday, Oct 21, 2016

I decided to apply to PPIP a while ago because I’m interested in public health policy, and DC is arguably the best place to learn about the policy process and see it in action. However, unlike many of my friends here, I do not plan on staying in Washington D.C. or even moving out of Texas after I graduate. Although I am not up here permanently, I still think there are many great benefits of spending a semester in the Capitol of our country.
  1. You are forced out of your comfort zone. As cliché as it is, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and learning to live a different lifestyle around completely new and different people for a while makes you grow and learn as a person. From learning to navigate the metro and living without a car, to learning social norms of a new city, to learning to enjoy time alone, living in DC has taught me a lot that I didn’t even know there was to learn about myself.
  2. You appreciate your friends and family more. I’ve made some great friends while in D.C., but being this far away from home made me realize how truly special my people back home are. I appreciate them even more than I already did, and cannot wait to spend time with them once I get back.
  3. You can take professional risks without fear. From introducing myself to professionals in my field and inviting them to coffee, to volunteering to do challenging tasks at work, I am constantly trying to develop my professional and networking skills while I’m here. I have gotten to meet some pretty awesome people and learn about what they do, and add a few more skills into my repertoire. Added perk: I’m not here for long, so if I make mistakes or conversations do not go well, I can learn from them and take those lessons back to Texas, where it really matters.
  4. You get to see the government in action. I’m a community health major and haven’t touched a government or history textbook since AP classes in high school. However, I have a whole new understanding and outlook on the government from my experiences here. I understand the role of government more, the powers of the three branches, the importance of lobbying and the importance of voting. I’m so thankful for the chance to be immersed in the action of lawmakers every day for a semester.
  5. You get to learn for the sake of learning. For the last 18 years of my life, I’ve been learning material from a curriculum. In DC, I get to attend hearings and briefings over material that interests me. I’ve learned about cutting edge technology in healthcare, the current state of health insurance markets, and different diseases and health epidemics that our country is struggling with. I’ve learned from world-renowned doctors and public health professionals. For the first time in a long time, learning is something I look forward to every day, and I am learning about topics will help me in my career.
  6. You’re surrounded by passionate people. People move to Washington because they are passionate about policy and making a real difference in the country. It is invigorating to go to work every day with people who are excited about what they are doing. I hope to take this passion home with me to my own career, no matter where I am. Passionate people are inspiring people, and I am grateful to be surrounded by them for the semester.
  7. You experience four seasons. Personally, fall weather is my favorite weather and unfortunately, there isn’t much of a “real” fall in Texas. Its October here and the leaves are turning and sweater weather is more than a couple of days in November. This is probably one of my favorite things about being here—getting a nice long break from the Texas heat!
Even though I am constantly homesick and cannot wait to hug all of my nieces and nephews and  eat some authentic Tex-Mex, I am extremely grateful for this experience that will help me return to Texas a more mature, professional, and confident person. I encourage anyone who is even thinking about applying to PPIP to take the leap and apply because it’s a unique opportunity to learn and grow as a person, even if your hiatus from Texas is temporary.

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Emily Hall
Office of Congressman Diane Black
Washington, D.C.