Tomorrow will be the final day of my internship, which feels strange to try and process. Since I entered college, I planned, first in abstract and then in concrete terms, to intern for a summer in Washington D.C. Because of my interest in international relations and politics, I looked forward to the opportunity to work with the government and decide whether I could see myself in the nation’s capital on a more permanent basis post-graduation.
Working for the International Student Management Office at the National Defense University was extremely insightful. Through my time here, I learned a lot about government work and culture. Additionally, while I have had other internships before, they have been more non-traditional, so this was my first real experience with working in a professional setting on day-to-day basis.
The experience itself had some incredible moments. Highlights for me include helping plan and attend the Graduation Dinner, interacting with the International Fellows one-on-one, meeting then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, participating in Field Studies across D.C. at prominent landmarks as well as the Newseum and the Museum of African American History and Culture, and assisting with a simulation of the Constitutional Convention.
On a more personal note, I learned more about how I should try to answer the question which looms in the background of every student’s mind: what should I do after college? From this experience, I learned that I would not be satisfied simply doing logistical work. From my experiences running conferences for Model UN, I knew that I enjoy event planning and orchestrating, but this summer has taught me I would only be happy doing this kind of work if I had a role which involved more critical thinking, writing, and planning; merely assisting is not enough for me, ultimately, although I do understand it’s a typical position for an intern. I’m also inclined to think about work beyond the government; while this has attracted me for a long time, I do want to explore the other opportunities to put my skills and talents to use, especially as I have watched the chaos unfolding first hand during these present, tumultuous times.
Even though I feel ready to leave Washington for the time being, it will be strange to return to the life of a student after having a foot in the “real world” for the past quarter of a year. This summer has made me excited for life after college — something I couldn’t really picture before I had a taste of it these past few months, and while I’m not entirely certain of the path ahead, it’s reassuring to know that much.