It’s that time of year again–the time when summer rushes in, traffic backs up with tourist buses, and interns flood the Capitol. If you’re in DC for the summer doing an internship, here are three tips to surviving, and thriving, in Washington.
1. Dress the Part – DC is a very professional (some may even say uptight) city that has a dress code. Leave the jeans, flip flops, and short skirts at home–they are a dead give away that you’re an intern. They say showing up is half the battle, dressing the part is the other half. The one day I didn’t wear a blazer to work was the day I was called in to brief the White House. It was an unexpected–but welcomed–surprise, along with a great lesson: always be prepared and ready to meet and greet anyone.
2. Apply the Two Degrees of Separation Rule – While six degrees of separation may be great for Kevin Bacon, in DC operate on a two degrees of separation rule: at any given time you could be two degrees of separation away from the President of the United States. Don’t be deceived by its Capitol status, DC is only a 10 by10 mile diamond and it’s truly a small town.
3. Be the 20% – It’s a common complaint in many offices in Washington–especially in the public sector–that 20% of the workforce does 80% of the work. If you want to make an impression, land a job, or build a solid network…work! Pitch in in any way you can and be willing to roll up your sleeves and solve problems (we love problem solvers, and they are often the ones who land the job!).
Even though I’m not inside the beltway, I can relate to tip 3.