Ah, May. The month Hillterns descend upon the nation’s capital with bright eyes and big dreams. Last summer I had the amazing opportunity to spend two months interning for the College Republican National Committee, situated right in the middle of things on K Street. While I’m thrilled to be interning back at home this summer, I’ll miss the hustle and bustle of D.C. There’s a sense of importance in the air, although that might just be the Potomac. I’ve compiled a list of some things I didn’t know before I started my internship, as well as some fun things to do when you aren’t working:
Coming from the Midwest, I’ve never really used public transportation like the Metro before. As an intern with no car, the Metro became my absolute best friend. It can certainly be pricey to maintain the card, but it’s a necessity. Number one thing I learned, walk on the left and ride on the right of the escalators. After only a week, I wanted to kill the tourists who rode the escalators on the left. Like I know you’re itching to see the White House but I’m late to work so kindly go to the right. If you follow this rule, you’ll be consider a D.C. pro, you’re welcome.
(The K St Exit was always so busy!)
Never ever never turn down an opportunity to network. During the summer, there are millions of opportunities for interns to network. Not only does this mean free food and usually an open bar (and unpaid interns can hardly turn that down!), the organization holding the event usually sends some important people. Before you get to the city, make sure you print business cards. I’m not joking. I handed these out like candy last summer and received many back. You’re living in D.C., so take advantage of the people you could meet! Not to mention, build good relationships with your bosses for those handy letters of recommendations you’ll be wanting (shout out to you Carolina!).
3. Be a tourist
Obviously everyone wants to look like a native, but carve out time on your weekends to explore the city. I’m a history nerd so I thrived on seeing the monuments and going to museums. I spent a handful of Sunday’s wandering around the city in awe of the history. You’ll have time to kill so maybe spend it learning a thing or two!
(The amount of strangers I asked to take my picture in front of monuments is probably embarrassing)
4. Nationals Games
I’m not a huge baseball fan but there’s something about the Washington Nationals that I loved. Maybe it was the hotdogs outside the stadium or maybe it was the President races, but despite the reason, I highly recommend getting to a game! Even if you don’t like baseball, at least you get to look at Bryce Harper for a few hours. Just be warned, the Metro is an absolute zoo afterwards.
(You can’t beat these seats! Hi Bryce!)
My parents were real worried about dropping their baby off in a city alone. They armed me with pepper spray (fun fact, pepper spray is actually illegal in D.C.) and prayed they taught me some common sense. Lucky for them I never had any issues however D.C. can be sketchy in places. If you’re on the Hill, the Metro can be a far walk. I spent quite a few nights drinking at Hawk ‘n’ Dove and I always called an Uber to get back to American University where I was staying. Uber is one of the best ways to get around the city so I highly recommend downloading the app before you get to the city.
D.C. absolutely wiped my bank account clean last summer. Food and drinks can be extremely expensive if you aren’t paying attention. If you’re able to, buy bulk groceries and try to meal plan for the week. If you’ve already bought food to eat, you’ll find it easier to resist the happy hour deal at the local sushi bar. Although food trucks line the streets, packing your lunch will save you so much money in the long haul. I tried to save during the week so I could splurge on the weekends and it seemed to work well so maybe it’ll work for you too! Here’s pictures of some amazing D.C. food!
(Cafe Divan, Wisconsin Ave, Georgetown)
(Buredo, 14th Street, yes, that really is a sushi burrito!)
Final Quick Thoughts
- Baked and Wired is better than Georgetown Cupcake and has a significantly shorter line
- Research free things to do, D.C. is full of them!
- Get other interns to make a softball or kickball team to play in the National Mall League
- U Street has great bars, but Dupont Circle will also show you a good time
- I’m convinced brunch in D.C. is ten times better than brunch anywhere else
- Make sure you have enough time to see all of the Smithsonians, I personally loved the American Art Museum!
- The National Botanic Garden is a sanctuary in the city, be sure to check it out!
- Paddle boarding on the Potomac was way fun and decently inexpensive!
- Podcasts are a great way to pass time on the Metro because you can download them before and won’t require Internet (which is terrible underground)
(Paddle boarding on the Potomac)
(The National Botanical Garden, National Mall)
I hope you found this information useful! Make the most out of your summer in the capital because it’s sure to be one of the best you’ll ever have! If you have any advice I missed, leave a comment because I’d love to hear them.
Best wishes in the wonderful Washington, D.C, I wish I could be there!