Tips and Tricks of a DC Intern

Weather you are just interning in DC for the summer or if you are a year round resident hoping to land an internship in the coming year here are some tips and tricks I have picked up (despite my regret of interning for the summer) over the last few months:

1) ALWAYS carry the Intern Trinity.
Deodorant, hand sanitizer and a hair brush. (All available in the travel section of your local drugstore)  After a long day of running around these three items will help to put you in a better mood and freshen up before you head home plus you never know who’s gonna be sitting next to on the metro ride home… For guys I also recommend keeping an extra dress shirt in your desk or backpack because there is nothing less attractive then massive pit stains.

2) Handle your blood,sweat and tears.
Blood,sweat and tears is an unappealing look., take care of yourself using band-aids or tissues. (Again, available at your local drugstore in various types and designs)   Whip out the hand sanitizer and a band-aid if you get that dreaded paper cut. In the DC heat a quick zip of the deodorant and a pat down with a tissue will make you seem untouchable even from the worst of weather. If you’re having a bad day, take a moment, go to the bathroom and let it out but come back in control of those pesky emotions.Work hard but make it seem effortless.

3)Rain, rain go away.
Here in DC it rains, with no warning. The good news is the intention of travel size umbrellas! These pocket sized umbrellas fit in almost any bag and can the difference between a happy intern and a soaked to the bone depressed intern. Sitting in drenched business causal for the rest of the day is no fun for anyone. They’re stylish. They’re functional and they can make a world of difference: carry an umbrella.

4) When conquering adversity make sure to wear (or bring with you) comfortable shoes.
You are the intern, the bottom of the tot tam pole, the little fish and when push comes to shove you, yes you, are the one who has to go get food for the business meeting and of course the restaurant is a mile away, with no metro stop near by, and you are car-less. So put on your walking shoes and hop to it. It is also a dead give away for those of you from out of town if at the end of the day you are limping to the metro in your high heels that you are in fact from out of town. Break in the dress shoes, bring flats or flip flops, make sure you can walk that mile to and from with ease.

5) Don’t be THAT kid.
Late on the first day because you were lost makes you come across as unprepared and a lack of time management. This is not a surprise, you know this day was coming and where you needed to be. Visit the office BEFORE your first day.
Google maps street view can also count for this so you know what the building looks like. This will also give you a certain level of confidence when walking in the door. When the undergrad intern was on time and the law school interns where ten minutes late because they were lost, I got THE nod from one of my supervisors and here I am six months latter with the same organization.

6) Metro Trip Planner is your best friend.
Plug in your bust/metro stop along with where you need to go and BAM! Trip Planner will pump out where you need to go, how much it is going to coast, how much it is going to coast, if there is an easier way to get to where you wanna go all in a matter of seconds. ALSO keep track of where your internship sends you, odds are there is a travel fund for interns EVEN IF it is an unpaid internship. That leads me to my next tip:

7) Budget in an hour to get to anywhere in DC using the metro.
Some veteran commuters might scuff at this BUT I would rather be safe than sorry because the metro IS NEVER ON TIME.  Repairs, break downs, congestion all stand between you and being on time. An hour allows you to get lost, ask for directs and realize you walked by the location about 20 minutes ago but yet you are still on time! If its your first day of interning and you have an address but not entirely sure where you are going an hour gives you time to get there, find where you are going and even scope out the near by Starbucks (or organically grown coffee houses for you none conformists).

8) Embrace your inner elementary school.
Pack your lunch. Treat your self to a lunch out on the first day and be aware of restaurants in the area for when the family comes in town and wants to take you to lunch. HOWEVER, for the rest of your time as an intern I recommend investing in a lunch box.  BB&J, chips, fruit or veggie, gummy snacks and juice boxes are nothing to scuff at, it will save you both time and money.

9) Southeast doesn’t bite…or mug,  or rape, or murder contrary to popular belief.
(More to follow on this in an up coming blog “White Girl In DC”) I know, I know, when you first got here everyone told you not to go anywhere near Anacostia, truth be told it is not that bad. Given my many trips out to the far reaches of the the metropolitan area I have learned that everyone in SE is actually very nice. Again, because you are the intern you will be the one making the trip out to meet with clients/give presentations where the rest of the office doesn’t want to touch with a ten foot pole. Act like you know exactly where you are going. Ask for directions if you need them. Keep your wits about you…that means take the ear buds out and you will (almost) blend right in.

10) Be aware of free food.
Lunch meeting = free food. Events = Free munchines.Stay late = possible free dinner. Own it. Love it. And most of all do not be above it. You are a college kid, lets be honest you don’t have money, don’t turn down a gift when it drops itself in your lap.

Now, go, blend and be the best DC intern you can be.

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