The Girly Girl's Guide to DC
Issue 7: Intern Season
Welcome back! If you missed last week’s issue, find it here.
I want this newsletter to be about you, the ladies of DC, so send me your healthy lunch recipes, bad date rants, and favorite DC spots by replying to this email.
What They Don’t Tell You
Washington, DC, doesn’t have normal seasons — instead of fall, winter, spring and summer, we have election season, Christmas party season, cherry blossom season, and intern season. The latter is upon us. For those of us who have already embarked on our careers, remember that you too were once a lowly intern when you encounter one in the wild.
But interns — this column is for you.
First off, congratulations on your internship! This summer will be an exciting one. Think of it as a Netflix free trial, but for a job. Maybe your internship fits right in with your college major. Maybe you took a chance and are trying something new.
Internships are where the rubber meets the road. If you’re studying business, you’ll find out if you like working in a corporate environment. If you’re studying public relations, you’ll find out if you like being responsible for putting out (figurative) fires.
College prepares you for a lot of things, but it doesn’t prepare you to change plans. Just ask anyone who’s tried to change majors.
Careers, like life, aren’t linear. Maybe you return to where you interned for a full job because you click there. Maybe your internship opens a door to a related field that you like better. Maybe you decide you don’t want to do this job full-time and totally change your plans.
As a journalism major, I interned for The Raleigh News & Observer, a North Carolina newspaper that’s been around since 1865. I grew up reading the paper every weekend, and even wrote a piece reflecting on the fact that I became a reporter there 10 years after winning an elementary school essay contest (read my piece by clicking here).
I decided I wanted to be a journalist as a kid in the mid-2000s, when newspapers had not yet given way to this little thing called the Internet. Journalism has become much more fast-paced in the age of Twitter, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t written anything for print since 2018.
I remember that toward the end of my internship, some reporters who’d been around for a while took me out to lunch and told me to try any profession other than journalism because the newspaper was dead. Talk about demoralizing. Today, I’m glad I stuck with it, but I think being a realist, not an optimist, is the way to go. Any career you pick will have upsides and downsides. As a journalist, I’ve worked crazy hours and holiday shifts, and I’ve got to be ready to pick up the phone anytime in case it’s the scoop I’ve been waiting for. The upsides? I learn new things every day and get to talk to the people making decisions for our country.
There are some important questions to ask yourself as you go through your internship. Will your career path limit where you can live? Is it a growing or shrinking career field? Do you get along with the kinds of people who tend toward that career field? Can you see yourself working this job long-term?
If your internship isn’t all you hoped it would be, don’t despair. It’s not wasted time. You’re learning more about yourself, and you never know what kinds of connections or experiences will turn out to be rewarding years later.
So best of luck, interns — I know you’ll conquer DC!
Interview with Liz Friden
Every week, I plan to introduce you to a woman who knows the ins and outs of DC.
My coworker Liz Friden has lived in DC for nearly six years and loves her NoMa neighborhood. (Follow her on Twitter here.)
Liz has probably done more internships than anybody. She went to college in DC and interned everywhere from the House of Representatives to a nonprofit. She also interned for her current employer, Fox News. Make sure to check out her 11 tips for interns at the end of the interview!
What does your job look like during quarantine?
I am a producer at Fox News. I have been in the field a handful of times to cover historical events since the lockdown last year, but mostly work from a desk in my bedroom. I am proud of my setup, but ready to go back to work in the bureau.
What’s your favorite restaurant in DC?
My favorite restaurant is The Dubliner. I have had some great nights there with friends and family. If I want to grab something quick while I'm out and about, Bandoola Bowl in Georgetown and Shouk in NoMa are my go-to's!
How would you describe your style?
I have a pretty classic Americana style. I would be happy wearing a white t-shirt and jeans every day, but I do mix it up in an attempt to keep it interesting. I am inspired by what I see looking around the city streets and old movies like Dirty Dancing. It's fun to dress like a character sometimes. As far as beauty products go, I recommend any skin product from Trader Joe's! And it's not a product, but I do swear by daily exercise, lemon water, and antioxidants. I feel most beautiful when I prioritize my health!
Lizzy’s Awesome Internship Tips
1. Ask questions as often as you can.
2. Have a tiny notebook next to you at all times to write the questions and answers down.
3. Keep your phone out of sight unless you need it for the task you are doing.
4. Get to know the people you are working for/with. Ask them about where they went to school, their hobbies or their hometown. This will make your work relationships seem less robotic and differentiate you from the silent interns. A few years down the road when you need a paying job, this will help because it will create a genuine connection to fall back on.
5. Confidence looks a lot like doing. So constantly ask for jobs to do and make up a project or research if there is nothing they give you.
6. When the task seems boring, put your head down and do the work with a smile on your face. At the end of the day, people remember who the hard workers are. Enthusiasm and curiosity go a long way.
7. Don't talk about politics in the office!
8. Use LinkedIn.
9. If commuting on a hot summer day, bring deodorant just in case.
10. Wear shoes you can run in. Girls, if you can run in chunky heels, go for it. But if not, flats and loafers are great choices.
11. Write thank you notes and emails to people who trained you. A follow-up is always appreciated.
Downton Abbey’s Encore
I’m sure I’m not the only Downton Abbey fan in DC. I watched every episode when it aired, so when I heard that a SECOND movie is on its way, I nearly jumped for joy.
Downton Abbey is set in the Roaring ‘20s, and we are hopefully entering our own Roaring ‘20s — coincidence? I think not. Let’s party like it’s 1929, baby. I’m pretty sure nothing bad happened that year.
Read more about the film by clicking here.
More Internship Advice
In keeping with the internship theme, I have a great piece by reader Jasmine Marani to recommend. In it, she writes about her experience interning for a member of Congress of the opposite party.
She writes: “This might be difficult to read if you are a millennial, but sometimes it really is not about you. Interning for a Representative that does not share your values teaches critical lessons in humility and patience. As an intern, oftentimes it is your responsibility to explain a position to a constituent who calls, writes, or visits the office. It was not my place to say how I happen to feel about an issue.”
You can read Jasmine’s full article by clicking here. Keep an eye out for an interview with her in a future issue!
Remote Internship? No Problem
If your upcoming internship is remote because of coronavirus risks, don’t despair. In fact, I had a remote internship in 2018 before it was cool. I was able to travel to meet my coworkers once, which was great, and those connections helped me long after the internship was over.
I recommend keeping your supervisor updated on your projects daily, not stressing if you have down time between projects, and trying to meet someone from your office at least once during the internship. Here’s a great article with more tips on remote internships.
Best Date/Worst Date
Reader Katie Johnson shared her worst dating experience (and best dating experience) with the Girly Girl’s Guide to DC!
Worst Date: “I'm from Wisconsin originally, so naturally when going on a date with a fellow Packers fan, you go to the Wisconsin bar, Hamilton's (Note: Not THE Hamilton, the classy one. The divey one that Hill staff like to go to on Fridays for the cheap beer.) I met this guy for drinks before the game and he shows up wearing PAJAMA bottoms. He proceeded to get drunk, invited me to a party three months away at some girl's mansion, and asked me if he could take me to a Packers game at Lambeau Field sometime (he said his dad would pay to fly us out and get good seats). It was very strange, too much for my taste, and there was not a second date.”
Best Date: “My current boyfriend of two years and I met at work — we started in the same department on the same first day. We worked together for months before he asked me out — and I did not know our first date was a date. We had been flirting for a bit at work and I suspected he liked me. He was new to the city so I would invite him to YR events, church activities, and to volunteer with the Little Sisters of the Poor with me, since we're both Catholic. I had an extra ticket to Taste of the South and had been planning to meet up with friends there. He offered to pay for the ticket and go with me — I thought we were just going to meet up at the venue, but on the day-of the event he showed up at my apartment, ordered an Uber for us and made it clear that it was a date. He later kissed me and told me he was looking for a serious relationship with me at the gala. FROM DAY ONE. So I knew he was an actual man, and a really wonderful guy, and we've been together ever since.”