After friending all the WLP interns on Facebook and chatting with some of them, I was excited to finally meet them during orientation. It was a jam-packed weekend in the Fair Elections Legal Network office. Filled with bonding activities and other panels, orientation was a crash course in networking, navigating through internships, and thriving as a WLP intern. We met with several alumni and other successful South Asians affiliated with the program who gave great advice on how to be successful this summer and beyond. After two full days of sitting in a conference room getting to know each other, we parted ways to start our internships.
This past week was a great introduction to government bureaucracy, both through our internships and WLP events. Whether it was security, computer access or receiving metro benefits from our agencies, everyone experienced something that slowed our momentum in our first week. On Tuesday, we were invited to the Capitol by Neil Chatterjee, senior advisor to Senator Mitch McConnell (Senate Majority Leader) and Faiz Shakir, senior advisor to Senator Harry Reid (Senate Minority Leader). Both advisors offered insight into working on the Hill, working across the aisle with each other’s offices, and advice on how to be a good Hill staffer. They both had a lot to say about being South Asian in politics, and why it is so important for young South Asians, like us, to get involved now.
On Wednesday, we were invited to the house of Priya Dayananda, one of the top lobbyists in the US, for a welcome party for all South Asian internship programs in DC. We were able to meet lobbyists, lawyers, staffers, politicians, and WLP alumni and put those new networking skills to work. After meeting and speaking with at least 50 people this week, it was clear that the values of the South Asian diaspora (determination, resilience, and ambition) are the key to success for our community.
We ended the week on a lighter note, meeting at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden for Jazz in the Garden. The Smithsonian hosts a different Jazz group every Friday in the summer for (old and new) Washingtonians to enjoy free of charge. We bonded with each other and some alumni and finished the night off with naan burgers at Grand Truck right next door!
This past week has been a whirlwind and I’m so excited for the opportunities coming my way because of WLP. I can’t wait to spend the next seven weeks and the rest of my life with my WLP family!