Erica Gordon, who is an USFSP student currently in the Washington Center program, is a Senior majoring in Political Science. Erica is currently in Washington, D.C., interning with The Human Rights Campaign. Below is her guest blog post about her experience in the Washington Center program – enjoy!
Doing an internship is a great way to figure out exactly what you want to do. There is an opportunity and an internship for everything in D.C.– business, non-profit, politics, international relations, international development, and even event planning,. If you’re interested in it, someone in D.C. is looking for free help. I applied to my internship program with the intent to work in domestic violence advocacy and somehow ended up at the largest LGBT rights group in the country. I work in the development department of The Human Rights Campaign when I’m not doing that, I’m doing quite possibly 23,482 other things.
In the four months I’ve been here, I’ve campaigned in New Hampshire, watched Bill Clinton give a speech, met Cyndi Lauper, and visited the National Mall more times than I can count. In addition to numerous opportunities, there are an astonishing amount of free activities to take part in. I still haven’t been to all of the Smithsonian museums or attended one of their sessions of how the crew for House of Cards dresses their sets.
If there is one piece of advice I can offer, it’s to go to every free event you can– especially if it’s sponsored by your internship site. My internship site hosts around 3 events on site a week, and in the Fall does two very large events, Chefs for Equality and the National Dinner. As an intern, I was expected to participate and be at both, and it was beyond my wildest dreams to have an opportunity to hear Bill Clinton speak at an amazing fundraiser. If an event isn’t scheduled, make one! Ask your colleagues out for coffee or lunch. They’ll probably pay and they’re more than happy to speak with you about what they do and how they got where they are. I’ve had coffee with the Chief of Staff, members of the legislative council, the events manager, and the head of the HRC PAC. Sometimes, I’ll plan a coffee meeting around a free food meeting and sail my way through the day on free goodies.
If you’re considering doing an internship, know your worth and your options. You know what skills you have and it’s up to you to find an internship site that can build on those skills and your professional character and experience. The internship life isn’t always glamorous and it isn’t cheap, but paid internships do exist and D.C. is overflowing with interns and college students looking for roommates. If you’re looking for a way to stand out from the crowd on your resume, an internship is the way to do it.
The Washington Center is a non-profit, educational organization located in Washington, D.C. The Washington Center has fall, spring, and summer internship programs that allow students to gain experience and help students build a foundation for their careers.
Pictures are courtesy of Erica Gordon.