An Intern’s Guide to Washington, D.C.

Joshua Lewis PPIP

Joshua Lewis (right) with President Tallant of TAMU Kingsville, who Joshua prepared for his congressional testimony as part of his internship.

 

Following his graduation in May of 2017, Joshua Lewis began his internship in Washington, D.C. with the Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP). This program provides students with real-world experience and hands-on learning through policy-related internships in Washington, D.C.; Austin, TX; and various European locations.  PPIP internships complement and reinforce students’ coursework, give students inside knowledge about their professional future, and provide hosting organizations with additional support. PPIP is coordinated from the office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies.  This allows the program to be coordinated centrally through the colleges to provide an integrated academic and policy-related internship program for the campus and community. (From http://ppip.tamu.edu/about).

Prior to graduation, Joshua was a Posse Scholar. The Posse Scholars Program provides students chosen by the Posse Foundation for exceptional leadership skills with intensive faculty mentoring and small group interactions.  Advantages of the program include a tightly knit national network of Posse graduates, tailored career and academic advising, and opportunities for individual and community development.  Posse Scholars are expected to become leaders on campus and in the community.

By Joshua Lewis ’17 | Posse Scholar | Public Policy Intern with Georgia Representative John Lewis | Philosophy |College of Liberal Arts

Washington DC has no sympathy for interns who mismanage their time, social capital, or financial resources. The DC area can grow to be stern and distant if one happens to adhere to one too many faux pas. The following are simple tips that have helped and will continue to help me experience the DC area.

Uber Everywhere
Well sort of. If you do not have Uber or Lyft, you need to make a lifestyle change. Most places that are must see areas of DC are hard to get to by metro rail lines alone. When traveling in groups this is typically the preferred means of transportation, but be careful. Always split the fare. Splitting fares with your friends will be the easiest way for you to ensure affordable travel and not lose new found friendship over a $36 Uber XL ride. If you can either walk or use the Metro Rail system, do so and thank your wallet will thank you later. Anything under a mile away should not be an excuse for a ride share.

Is your lunch more than your hourly pay? 
It is easy to find great eats in DC. The not so pretty downside to this is that if you are interning, you most likely will not be paid, although there are some who will be the exceptions. For those who are paid interns it is never really a great idea to consistently have lunch and dinner if it is twice or three times more than what you bring in on an hourly rate. Be modest and plan when you will eat out to save your funds. If you happen to have an unpaid internship, budget for groceries and meal prep as often as possible. Plan to eat out within the constraints of your budget and you will be fine.

Groceries get delivered to your door step. 
So you don’t have a car, no problem. Most stores have a food delivery service. Giant, for example, uses what is called “Peapod” to deliver groceries to its customers. There are other services, like Fresh Direct, that offer $50 dollars off grocery purchase if using promotion codes. The downside to online shopping is that you miss out on sales and deals offered at local grocery stores. If you have the fortitude and weather conditions permit try walking or taking the bus to the grocery stores near your residency.

Print more business cards. 
The amount of business cards that you start with will not be enough! You will have to eventually either have more printed or order your own. The one thing that you never want to do while in DC is try to network with no business cards. It makes it harder for you to make your impression and for the one you are trying to connect with to communicate with you.

Don’t lose yourself. 
The hype of the DC area is sometimes overwhelming. Sometimes this means that people lose who they are when surrounded by new people and ideas from every part of the conservative / liberal spectrum. In the flurry of new sensations stay convicted to the goals and objectives you set forth at the beginning of your internship. You will thank yourself later

Would I do it again? 
I would absolutely do it again. The exposure to policy is helping me figure out what I want to do for my graduate studies. If I had not taken the time to pursue PPIP I question whether or not I would have found my concerns on health and social policies today. DC is the heart of policy for the country and regardless of one’s interests they can find something to connect with here in DC.

 

Joshua Lewis ’17, BA Philosophy

Joshua is staying on a second semester to continue his internship.

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