I have spent every summer of my undergraduate life dreaming about when I could be an intern in D.C.-- and now that it is happening, I can hardly believe it. I love the vibe of the city, my office building, and yes, even the commute. I’m sure my Week 2 optimism will wear off before the summer is over, but for now, being here is everything I had hoped.
Although in the past week we had only one event, the conversation we had with Kalindi, Shripal, and Sabrina on the topic of “Life on Political Campaigns” opened our eyes to the excitement and importance of campaign work as a method of political engagement. As WLP Scholars work in public service, we won’t see the campaigning side of politics during the summer, but more than one of us will likely be pursuing campaign work in our respective cities in the fall. The advice of the three seasoned politicos definitely resonated with all of us.
Our cohort has become incredibly friendly, especially considering we only met each other two weeks ago. Our group chat is always buzzing with new jokes, life updates, and planning for our final project. We have started grabbing dinner after events, so we have the chance to socialize and also, perhaps more importantly, discuss the undoubtedly good advice we get from the professionals who agree to speak with us.
I find myself returning to the advice Sam Arora, Rina Patel and Shikha Chivukula gave us during WLP Orientation. They emphasized the importance of time management, setting goals for the summer and working tangibly toward them as we meet amazing people in our workplaces and beyond and encounter once-in-an-undergraduate-career opportunities that don’t always announce themselves to us. I returned to the list of goals I created that first weekend, and tried to see how I was working towards them. I wanted to write more here, and I am. I wanted to find something to learn every day, and I have. I wanted to push myself to meet new people, and I can’t say that I’ve been perfect in this, but I am trying. The goals I set at the beginning of the summer are long-term and long-lasting. I hope that the habits I build here: of always listening, of engaging fully and completely, of disconnecting from my social media for at least a few hours during the day, will accompany me back to Rice and continue to grow there.
My internship at USAID is extremely fulfilling. I work in the Maternal and Child Health division of the Bureau of Global Health, and I am constantly surrounded by brilliant people at the forefront of their fields. The information I have learned in two weeks is astounding; even more impressive is the expertise with which my team discusses and debates complex issues of vaccination. I know I have a lot more to learn and a lot more to experience here in D.C. and hope that I will continue to challenge myself to think critically and push myself outside my comfort zone. But for now, I let the energy of the city wash over me and feel grateful to finally be a part of it.