In the summer of 2016, this 15-year-old farm girl stepped foot in our nation’s capital for the first time. In town for a leadership conference, I anxiously waited for the opportunity to see the sights, meet with legislators, and learn more about our country’s history. What began as a week-long visit turned into a desire to return again one day. Five years later, I am back and truly cannot believe I am living and working in Washington, D.C. In the short time I have lived here, I have continued to fall in love with this city. Not only do I love the fast-paced city life, but I love the work I’m doing within it and the people I get to do the work alongside. All that said, the big city life can be a bit intimidating for a girl coming from a town that boasts about 300 people. I thought I could provide some “advice” for all my small-town farm kids who find themselves in the same boots as me.
Commuter shoes are NO JOKE!
I learned this the hard way. Tennis shoes, Hey Dudes, Crocs… Whatever you prefer, make sure they are comfortable and fit well. You will do so much more walking than you think. I probably walk at least three to five miles a day and sometimes, more. A comfortable pair of shoes when traveling to and from work are a must! And while you’re at it, invest in some comfortable work shoes. You can always throw on heels for a meeting or event, but stylish loafers or flats are the best way to go for everyday roaming around the office. You will thank yourself when you’re not putting a whole box of Band-Aids on your feet (speaking from experience)!
Public transportation is an experience in itself.
Ubers are expensive, the metro is anything but glamorous, sometimes it’s too far to walk, and if you’re bringing your car… good luck with that D.C. traffic! I’d be lying if I said public transportation hasn’t been a bit of a culture shock. On the bright side, you have the rest of the interns to figure it out alongside. The metro is definitely the cheapest and probably the easiest way to get around D.C. That being said, I encourage you to explore other options as well! For example, the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) has been free for the month of September due to the yellow metro line being shut down. The VRE is usually less crowded, cleaner, and has been much faster for myself because of the location I travel to for work. If all else fails, splitting an Uber with a few other interns isn’t a bad idea from time to time.
Don’t let the word “no” be in your D.C. vocabulary!
They say there really is no place like Washington, D.C., and if you want to make a change, this is the place to be. And they’re not wrong. D.C. is FULL of so many different opportunities. Whether it be networking at a reception or event, attending happy hour with some coworkers, sitting in on a meeting or Zoom call, or seeing the sites on the weekend with other interns, don’t catch yourself saying “no” to anything. You never know who you might meet or have the opportunity to connect with. Or you may find an interest or passion in a policy area or a career you didn’t know much about.
It’s different… And that’s OK!
I’ve been asked why in the world I would want to live and work in Washington, D.C.? It’s a valid question and honestly, there are times I miss the comfort and quiet of my small town. And you don’t have to love it! You may get here and realize this isn’t the place for you, and that is OK! At the end of the day, your experience is what you make of it. So make the most of it, as you may never get this chance again. As for me, I cannot wait to find my way back here once again (hopefully more permanently)! I’ve never had more excitement and passion for what I’m doing than I do here in D.C. And I like to think that 15-year-old farm girl would be pretty proud of how far she’s come.
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
Fall 2022 | Washington, D.C