Every experience is rewarding in a different way. Some are purely learning experiences, where the knowledge of a new technical skill or the understanding of a process is made. Others are focused on the experience itself, about being in the moment and having a good time. Both are valuable, and both help to further develop you in many different ways. My time in DC was a learning experience for sure. Although I have always been interested in taking part in politics, I had not previously done so. Most of my knowledge was from having the news on in the background or from seeing what was going on while reading online newspapers. I wasn’t actively seeking out what was happening on a day to day basis. Living and working in DC, I learned how important it is to stay informed. In order to stay connected with what is going on, it takes effort to follow stories and the knowledge of how to do so. Learning the sources that the people working in politics go to in order to find out accurate news and how they kept up with multiple sources at a time helped me to overcome the initial challenge of being fully aware of what was happening in Washington.
My time here has also taught me to be more critical of what I hear and to always think about both sides of every issue. I like to think about this as not only being applicable when listening to information given by the media, but also in everyday situations. When talking with people, their side of things is always as important to listen to as your own. You have to respect other people’s views because you can never know exactly through what lens they are viewing things through. Even if you try to relate with people, it is an individual’s own experiences that shape how they view the world. It is important to recognize that and try to understand as best as you can.
If there were one recommendation I would give to NYU DC, it would be to have everyone work the same number of hours a week at their internship. Because there is such a high variation in the number of hours people work, teachers cannot accurately assign levels of work that is accommodating for the whole class. Some people chose to only work a few half days a week, while others chose to work almost full time. For me, working an average of 30 hours a week was a much bigger task than my classmates only handling 15 hours. When we are all getting assigned the same amounts of work, I think it hurts those that either chose or were required to work longer hours. Although I appreciate the freedom to have control over my work schedule, I do think it would be better for NYU to establish a reasonable number of hours that way student’s academic work is not negatively impacted.
The most rewarding aspect of my time spent in Washington was seeing how much I accomplished over the semester. I had never thought of myself as someone that would be interning on Capitol Hill, especially in the actual Capitol. Realizing that this was something I wanted to take a chance on to see if I liked it was intimidating at first since I knew I had very little working knowledge of Congress. Watching myself accomplish the goals I had set for my time here and learn a ton about something I knew fairly little about taught me about my own perseverance and strength. I now look forwards even more to what the future holds for me.