As I sit here typing, erasing, and re-typing words on this blank document to try and express how busy but fun my internship has been so far, I realized that I haven’t even talked about who I’m interning for and what I’m doing.
This summer I have the wonderful opportunity to intern at the Human Performance Resource Center, which is a health initiative of the DoD. HPRC strives to provide evidence based information and key resources to soldiers and their families to help them live healthy, happy lives. More than that, HPRC is a group of people dedicated to keeping soldiers healthy and creating policy changes to help make military training safer for those who endure it. My official title is “social media intern” but I don’t just formulate and schedule Facebook and Twitter posts. A fellow intern (and W&M alumni) and I are working on creating video blogs for HPRC as well. Personally, I’m pretty terrible with anything terribly high tech so she focuses on filming and editing the pieces and I create the scripts and storyboards.
Now that we’re all on the same page with what I do, I thought I’d talk about what I’ve learned so far. The day before my internship started I posted a blog about how I was excited but nervous to enter into the “real world”. I got some wonderfully amazing and encouraging responses to “dive right in” or “just be confident” and I’ve taken all of those comments to heart. While pondering different ways to tell you the exhaustive list of lessons being in DC and interning at HPRC has taught me I thought of Buzzfeed’s “Top 10” lists and thought I’d give it a try!
Top 10 Things Katie Has Learned From HPRC and DC So Far
- Don’t expect any personal space on the Metro between 7-9 am or 4-7pm
This is rush hour time on the Metro, where trains look like sardine cans and there’s a good chance you’ll be stuck in a very awkward position. Typically this position includes you stretching your arm towards a pole and praying to whatever God you believe in that you won’t fall into the very serious looking man standing next to you.
- Creating Twitter Posts is Way Harder than it Looks
Tweeting about how awkward you felt when you fell into the man standing next to you on the metro is easy, but linking back to blog posts written by experts in their fields can be quite difficult. Formulating a tweet that’s both professional and funny is the like winning the Stanley Cup to a Social Media Intern.
- Going to Bed at 10:30 pm is a Beautiful Thing
When you get up at 5am and have a long day of walking around the office and doing a copious amount of reading and writing, you have no desire to stay up until 1am watching some random tv show on Netflix while simultaneously playing 2048.
- Never Leave Home Without Your ID Badge, Metrocard, and a Book or Headphones
The train will, inevitably, get stuck or delayed for an extended period of time on a part of the line with no cell service. Just make sure you still have one hand on that pole because when the train starts up again it’ll jerk forward with little to no warning.
- Attend Every Lecture You Can, Even If You Think You Won’t Understand It
HPRC has a lot of lectures about different subjects within the “health science” field of study. As a government and sociology major I know little to nothing about the technical aspects of health science or the research which accompanies it but I’m learning more and more every day!
- Networking is Not as Scary as You May Think
Trying to network with people who are already in your desired career field can be intimidating, but they’re not going to laugh you off or walk away from you! Like I noted in a previous blog post, if it seems scary you should most definitely go for it!
- Professionals Really Do Love Talking to College Students
Once upon a time they were also a college student trying to figure out what to do post-graduation. Everyone I’ve run into so far has been kind and willing to give me any advice I may need.
- Business Cards are Great
Because remembering names and emails correctly is one of the hardest things you will ever do.
- There’s no Shame in Looking at the Metro Map
I’ve even seen some seasoned professionals double check their Metro route on occasion. It’s better to consult the map than to be lost on the Metro. Getting lost on the Metro is not a fun experience. Ever.
- Questions are Always Acceptable
No one is going to kick you out of the office for exceeding your daily question quota. Supervisors would rather hear a dozen questions and get presented with a pristine report than a report full of guess work.