So, Washington D.C. is the capital of the United States. But why does everyone think it’s so cool? Well, that’s something I certainly learned during my internship through Texas A&M’s ANRP program! To start off with, the city is historic. It’s amazing to see places like Mount Vernon, because that was a special place for George Washington himself! Second, Washington D.C. is full of passion. Anywhere you go during the work week, you will see professionals of all ages working hard for something they care about. Every morning on my way to work, I come across so many people on their way to work as well. The hustle and bustle of this city is certainly backed by passion and dedication! The third reason you should not count this city out is because, like I said earlier, it is the CAPITAL of the United States. What could be cooler than attending the briefings you see on T.V. or working with the lawmakers of our country? As much as I love Texas, Washington D.C. gave me experiences within the political realm that I never thought I could have! Finally, the last reason that Washington D.C. is cool is because it is beautiful. From the historic landmarks to the National Mall and so forth, there is not a view of D.C. that could take away from its beauty. An example is the photo I’ve added! This is a picture of me and my roommates, Jessica Santos and Ashley Carter, at the Speaker’s Balcony in the Capitol Building. Behind us is the National Mall with the Washington Monument! Although I think Washington D.C. is definitely worth a visit, what do you think?
Don’t limit your program experience to one city, try shaking things up with a fun road trip! Here’s a few tips to help you make the most out of it.
As I’ve settled into my new city and job and the initial excitement and anxiety of starting a new job began to fade, I was feeling gray again. I love the work I get to do in my office and I love the people that I get to work with but outside, I just couldn’t seem to escape the cloud that hung around me. The truly beautiful architecture and majestic monuments faded into the mundane as I passed them daily. Perhaps what I needed was a change of scenery, so one weekend, my friends and I took a trip to Boston to break the routine.
I’ll tell you a bit about our experience and give you some tips if you’d like to organize a road trip with your new intern friends too.
Find a suitable method of transportation
You need a car if you want to take a road trip. If someone in your group has a large enough vehicle, then good for you. If you’re all poor interns without a car like we were, check out your rental options. There are several rental services at Reagan airport just one metro-stop away! Look online for an automobile that fits everyone comfortably and be sure to set the return time to as late in the day as possible so you don’t have to worry about turning it in late.
Book a place to stay early
Don’t start your trip without knowing where you’re going to stay during your trip. Look online for a motel or hostel in the area you’re planning to go. The towns around the major cities often have very nice options at much more affordable prices than downtown. For our Boston trip, we stayed at a Motel 6 about 20 minutes outside the city.
Make an itinerary
To make the most out of your trip, you should have some idea of where you want to go and what you want to do. A good strategy to avoid wasting time is to create a google doc before your trip and have everyone contribute by adding landmarks, attractions, bars, and restaurants that seem interesting. As you look online for things to do, you may find a neat arcade bar, market center, or historic monument all within walking distance from each other. As we made our basic itinerary for our trip, we were better able to plan our activities each day.
Be flexible with plans
Just because you made an itinerary, doesn’t mean that you have to follow it to the letter. What if you stumble upon a cute tea shop, a Harry Potter themed bookstore, or a bar with a great deal on fresh oysters? There’s a lot of places to go and things to do but sometimes you have to explore a bit to find the real gems out there. Having flexibility with our plans enabled us to do a lot more in the places we visited.
Make a playlist for your drive
To make the long drive more fun, let everyone in your group add music to a playlist. You’re less likely to be bored when everyone’s music tastes are represented during your many hours on the road. Our very eclectic playlists featured all different genres, from Bollywood to Bjork!
Don’t be stupid
It’s good to have fun. While on your trip, be sure that you are representing yourself and your program positively! You’re an adult and you should act like it, be sure that everyone in your group is moderating themselves appropriately. Stay safe!
I hope these tips help you out. I highly recommend exploring outside of D.C., especially in the fall. The leaves are so pretty! Thanks and gig ‘em!
Each choice you make during your time in Washington, D.C. could be the one that determines whether you sink or soar- from the everyday choices you make professionally, to the more mundane ones like choosing what you are going to eat for lunch. And while I could give you some advice about “how to make the best choices for a successful internship” (or something cliché like that), let me instead guide you towards making the right choices when it comes to your overall health and happiness. Because how you choose to treat your body can have a major impact on your present state of being, how well you perform at your job, and can ultimately contribute to how your overall D.C. experience plays out.
The saying “you are what you eat” is not just another one of your mother’s silly platitudes. What you consume can influence your appearance in a matter of hours, change your mood almost instantaneously, and can affect how well you perform during the day both physically and mentally. So, to set you up for success in D.C., try to eat as healthily as possible. While it is easiest to eat healthy by cooking your own food, I understand life in D.C. can get hectic. So, here are some of my favorite locations to get nutrient-rich meals on-the-go:
– Roti Modern Mediterranean
-Whole Foods (they have amazing self-serve salad and hot-bar stations)
– Zoës Kitchen
-True Food Kitchen
And if you work on the Hill, the Longworth and Rayburn Cafeterias have tons of delicious and mindful whole-food choices to take advantage of.
While eating nutritious foods is an essential part of living healthily, working out is also incredibly important. While interning in D.C., I highly encourage you to take advantage of the downstairs gym in the Buchanan. It does not have the widest array of exercise equipment, but it can get the job done. Plus, it’s just a short walk and an elevator ride away. If that gym just doesn’t suit your fancy though, there is a rock-climbing gym called Earth Treks just down the road, a gym called Crossfit South Arlington in the opposite direction, and several other gyms throughout Crystal City that you can use for free if you have the Crystal City Lights pass. This pass grants you access to all the Buchanan’s sister properties’ amenities. If the pass does not already come with the set of keys they give you when you first move into the Buchanan, you can always ask the front desk attendants to give you one free of charge. My favorite gym in the area though is in Crystal Towers, for it has most every piece of equipment you would need for resistance training or cardio alike. Regardless of which gym you go to, at least make an effort to exercise regularly. Your future self will thank you.
If you have never heard of the concept of mindfulness training before, it is essentially the practice of focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. As documented by numerous studies, mindfulness training has the potential to alleviate depressive symptoms, increase our ability to focus, improve our brain’s ability to regulate emotions, and has the potential to relieve chronic anxiety. While I consider myself a healthy person in general, the healthiest thing that I do for myself is practice mindfulness daily. For just 10 minutes a day, I sit in a comfortable chair and just pay attention to everything that comes my way- thoughts, sounds, bodily sensations, outside noises, etc. And as boring as that may sound, it has made an incredibly profound difference on my overall well-being, and, I think, has enabled me to be a more productive and capable employee while working on the Hill.
If you have no real idea on how to start your mindfulness training, some apps that I would recommend you checking out are:
– The Waking Up App (my personal favorite)
I sincerely hope your internship in D.C. proves to be fruitful, and I hope that you make the right choices for yourself- because no one will do it for you.
Office of Congressman John Carter
Washington, D.C. | fall 2019
In a city full of politicians, entrepreneurs, and average joes, Hanna Lisenbe, that’s me, and my five roommates try to do the impossible, create a guide that will help you survive DC.
If you’re anything like me moving to DC is a major change; I went from 10-hour days in a sheep barn to 10-hour days in an office and the transition was huge. The truth is if you’re coming from any type of Texas background DC is going to be a big change. It’s kinetic yet motionless, historic yet young, passionate yet heartless; DC is full of contradiction and somehow, I still love it.
The adjustment to the Metro was probably one of the hardest jumps I had to make. There’s a lot of freedom in having your own vehicle, being able to leave whenever, wherever, that you lose coming to DC. So, my personal recommendation is that if you have the option, most definitely bring your car. It’s more convenient to have your car if you want to go on a weekend adventure or even just pick up groceries (a very difficult task if you are a metro user). Without a car, the Metro itself is going to become your best friend whether you want it to or not. If it all possible try to make your first trip on the Metro outside of the crowded rush hours, because the people that know what they are doing do not want you in their way. My first few trips included a wrong way train to the airport, leaving my friend behind on accident (learning that Metro doors are NOT like elevator doors in the process), and finally mastering the Golden escalator rule (step to the right or face the wrath of the businessman who missed his train because of you).
Unlike the Metro, the weather has been one constant that has made me feel at home here in DC. Just like College Station, DC has a certain humidity level that can make you sweat off your makeup after a mere five steps out of your front door. Beyond the humidity DC’s weather tends to have the temperament Texas weather as well. One day it’s 95 degrees with 100% humidity and the next day it’s 70 degrees and sunny with a nice breeze; I am sure ice and snow are next in the queue. My point here is to make sure you bring layers, check the weather app before you leave, and always carry an emergency umbrella.
Besides the policy process that I love and came to the city to experience and learn more about, I’ve also grown to love all the fun that the city of DC has to offer. One of the best things about the must-see spots in DC is that they’re almost all free, so for an intern on a budget, like me, it’s perfect. Of course, some tours require $20 here and $15 there, but you can choose to trek on foot, free of charge, up and down the National Mall, to every museum, to Arlington National Cemetery, to the Capitol, and everywhere in between, you can see a huge part of our nation’s history, talk to the locals, and begin to understand what DC is all about. I enjoy the weekends in DC because people lose their masks and put away the diplomacy. Late weekend nights at the Lincoln memorial are a must, not only are the monuments beautiful at night, but they are also less crowded, filled with locals rather than tourists.
Finally, and probably most importantly, I recommend you gain a taste for coffee if you don’t already have one. In DC, coffee is more than just a fuel to keep you going throughout the day, it’s a networking tool. If you get here and you find somebody that has an interesting position or history, even if it’s just someone you want to get to know better, I cannot stress this enough, ask them to coffee. It may only be a 20 to 30-minute conversation, but it can be filled with valuable information and help you develop connections that will serve you in the future. Along the same lines try to stay up to date with current news and policies because like I said this city is, at its foundation, about our government and politics. Whatever you’re doing, being well-informed will just make you that much more marketable.
At the moment I’m surviving in a city, doing what I used to think was only a pipe dream for me. I’m getting the opportunity to work in our nation’s Capital. I am so lucky to be a small part of the big picture that changes lives here in America. It’s not fast, easy, or perfect, by no means (listen to Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” if you don’t believe me), but for the most part it’s filled with people working, not only to make a living, but a difference. Those are the people that I love squeezing onto the crowded Metro with every day. I have an open mind and I’m taking every experience thrown my way. If you get a chance to come to DC, live it up, and try to make a difference in your own way; DC will give you countless opportunities you just have to reach out and take them.
Office of Congressman Kevin Brady
Washington, D.C. | fall 2019
Moving to a new city is one thing but, moving to a new state is very challenging. From never really traveling outside of Texas to moving 1,187 miles away it has been an adventure.
Learning the Metro did not take long. It is tricky but once you get the hang of it, it is a breeze. My first day in the city my roommate and I went to check it out and she got on and the doors closed right behind her so, I was left on the platform. To say I freaked out is an understatement. Once she got back everything was good, and we learned our lesson- Jump Fast!! I have been here for going on three weeks and I would like to consider myself a natural
Before I moved here, I knew in my head what I wanted to see and do. I suggest making a list but, going with the flow. Almost every weekend we (my roommates and I) have made plans for what we wanted to do. And, every weekend we have strayed from the plans and ended up doing something completely different and that’s ok. We have made a list of everything we want to do while we are here so straying from plans never hurts.
Sleep… Oh how I miss sleeping in or going to bed early. Even though I am tired I still wake up and start the day. Coffee has become my best friend again. When I think I am going to go to bed early life hits me with an opportunity and I try to go with it. Some things only happen once so why not lose a little sleep.
House Committee on Agriculture
Washington, D.C. | fall 2019
1.Holding a “real world job”
Interning for the Food and Agriculture Organization is night and day different from most student-worker jobs on campus. You are given projects at the beginning of the week (or month) with very little guidance, higher expectations than you are use to and may not see your supervisor again for days. Learn to be independent. Don’t rely on your supervisor to tell you how to do every detail. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion or just run with it!
Make friends with other interns and consultants. This is a must! Talk to them about where they are from, enjoy being able to hear about their culture and experiences before coming to FAO. Having them to explore Rome with at night and on the weekends or just having a group to eat lunch with everyday really helps when you’re trying to survive a long day/week.
2.Adjusting to life in Rome
Being from a small town, moving to Rome was a bit of a culture shock the first week here. However, you will find that this is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Live away from the tourist attractions. Immerse yourself in the “true Roman culture”.
Learn basic Italian BEFORE coming to Italy. I was told this before coming, but didn’t take it as seriously as I should have. It’s nice now being able to order a slice of pizza, telling the person behind the counter that you will eat it now, but want to take it with you (trust me this gets confusing if you can’t understand them and they can’t understand you).
Coffee: First things first, do NOT order a cappuccino after lunchtime. You will definitely get the “you’re from the U.S. look” that you have been trying so hard to avoid. Second, café does NOT translate to coffee in English, it is an espresso. Third, always accept a coffee break invitation. Networking is why you are here and doing it over coffee is the most common way.
Gelato: Stay away from the touristy areas (this goes for just about any food or coffee). Research, find the ones that actual Romans love to go to. Try different flavors, even the crazy ones!
3. Being a Tourist
There is so much history here that you could spend months just visiting all the museums, piazzas and historical landmarks. Walk around during the weekends and at night. You’ll be surprised at how beautiful places like the Trevi Fountain are at night.
Go to more than just the normal tourist destinations. Take a Sunday morning stroll through Porta Portese Market with the locals (and tourists)!
Travel! Even if you aren’t comfortable or can’t afford trips to other countries in Europe there are still plenty of places to go within Italy. Florence, Tivoli, Pisa, Venice, Naples and Milan are just to name a few. It is so easy to travel within Italy with the regional and high speed trains (and cheap too!). However, if you can I would highly suggest visiting other countries around Europe. Immerse yourself in as many different cultures as possible. It may be nerve-racking landing in a city that may only speak French, Dutch, or Spanish (when all you know is English and a little bit of Italian), but do it. You’ll be so glad you experienced their way of life for a few days.
Don’t be afraid to travel by yourself. If there is somewhere you want to go…then GO! Have fun, be a tourist and do what you want to do.
Every minute counts. Your time in Rome will fly by faster than you can imagine. Have fun, learn a lot and experience a new way of life (you never know, you may fall in love with a city halfway across the World).
Thanks and Gig’em from Roma, Italia!
FAO Intern – Food Safety Division
It’s now Week 6 in DC at the National Corn Growers Association Office!
This internship experience has been great not only because of the experiences and learning opportunities, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family as well. Before I left, my dad (who is a career firefighter/flight paramedic) taught me about some of the technical farming topics I might encounter that were being used in the neighborhood. He grew up on a farm near Enola (north of Madison, NE) where we’ve recently had some baby calves. My grandpa (on my dad’s side), Leland Nelson, was one of the first members on the pork check-off board a very long time ago. Needless to say, my internship has brought out some very cool stories about the family that I didn’t know.
NCGA is involved in pollination issues as well, which was another odd strike of luck for me. I grew up assisting my dad’s beekeeping operation. Not only would I suit up and help tend the bees, but I helped extract and sell the honey. I’m not sure which is worse, detassling corn or extracting honey (yes, I did both). Because I’ve been away at college for five years (and was a busy high school kid before that) I haven’t done anything with the bees for a long time. Not to mention sad losses of bees at home and nationwide. My dad’s knowledge of the issues facing beekeepers nationwide has been a great resource for my knowledge about the issue with regards to my internship. He was previously a State Bee Inspector, and illustrated the very issues that were recently briefed on Capitol Hill.
When I left Nebraska as a country kid (not a farm kid), I thought that my lack of farming experience would put me behind quite a bit. What I learned instead (and found to be a truly valuable lesson), is that it takes all kinds to complete the necessary knowledge in an organization.
– Morgan Nelson, Public Policy Internship Program
Insights into the first few days of interning with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations in Rome, Italy. Copied with permission for Kerstin Alander’s personal blog.
Yesterday was my first official day at the FAO headquarters.
I still can’t believe it.
I woke up very early and the mother of the house dropped me off at a coffeehouse so I could buy a bus pass. She explained everything to me very well and I had no problem getting a ticket! I took the bus for a bit and then got on the metro! The only other subway system I have been on was in New York and this was a lot different. The main difference was that in New York they had announcements for the stops and scrolling bulletins on the stops. Here you have to watch because there are few announcements and no bulletins. The subways themselves are also heavily marked with graffiti.
It was almost pretty in a sense.
Look what you see as soon as you walk out of the station! It’s the UN flag!!!!
Since I left the house so early I got to the headquarters a little over half an hour before I was supposed to arrive! You know what that means? I finally got to do some sightseeing. Although I was in a three piece suit so I wasn’t super comfortable, haha. I walked around the Circo Massimo, which in English is Circus of Maxentius. In ancient Rome it was a circus, most well-known for its chariot races. Now people use it to walk their dogs and jog, but more of it has been excavated over the past few years.
Finally it came time for me to start my first day! I was all butterflies as I went through security and gave them my passport. One of the HR reps met me at the gates and gave me a tour of the building. This place is a maze! It used to be several separate buildings, but over the years they have connected them. That means one minute you are in building B, than you turn a corner and are in building F! Everyone who works here is incredibly nice. For those of you who don’t know UN staff is very diverse, with only so many staff members allowed from each donating nation. Fun fact, because the US doesn’t donate that much to the FAO there are very few permanent staff members from the USA. Crazy huh? The scientist who I am directly under is extremely nice, and so is the other member of the GLEWS I met today. They had me join them at lunch in the cafeteria on the 8th floor. Let me just tell you- THE VIEW! It’s amazing. The FAO is open to visitors so if you are in Rome, come to the FAO to get some pictures. You can see the Coliseum, Vatican City, and Circo Massimo to name just a few.
It’s super cool. One of these days I want to come at night when it is all light up. So then I started on the way to Termini Station. That’s when I made my first mistake. Rome is a very crazily built city with everything on top of itself and the streets are not labeled as well as in the US. So I quickly got lost. It wasn’t too terrible; I got to see some really cool normal buildings. People were also very friendly, and if you just said Termini they would point in the direction. The issue was roads that slowly split and I either didn’t realize my street was now a different one or I couldn’t find the street name. I eventually got to Termini after a several hour zigzag path. I did get to see the The Papal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore during my adventure as the clueless tourist though!
There’s something about being a political science major in Washington D.C. that just makes my heart sing. The sighting of a Congressman, on either side of the aisle, is akin to a teenager passing by Justin Bieber in Hollywood. For me, walking the halls of the Supreme Court or the Capitol is far superior to the glamour of the red carpet. However, there is more to D.C. than the Congress, the Court, and the Commander in Chief. Our nation’s capital is the heart of policy and advocacy. Hundreds of associations, representing everything from dairy farmers to university presidents, work throughout the city to influence the formation of laws and regulations and provide expertise on a variety of subjects. The work of the associations often requires regular gatherings of their members, in order to discuss the important pieces of legislation, regulation, and news that will affect their organizations. For those with interests in either the dairy farmers or the educators, these meetings are the perfect opportunity to meet your own celebrities. While others may not recall the faces and names of the attendees at these gatherings, you likely know their life story!
As an intern at the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities, I was able to sit in on one of these gatherings. The university presidents of APLU’s member organizations convened in D.C for a daylong meeting. While this meeting may not have excited everyone, I have been doing research at Texas A&M University, as an undergraduate research assistant with the Project for Equity, Representation, and Governance on management in higher education. I have spent hours researching a variety of university officials, including presidents and chancellors. I have read about their lives, backgrounds, and accomplishments. Consequently, seeing these university presidents was somewhat of a Hollywood moment! Just as an avid movie goer could point out their favorite actor or actress, I was mentally noting the presidents I had spent so much time learning about. It was a wonderful opportunity to be a fly on the wall in such a meeting and get to brush shoulders with such VIPs. Thank you to PPIP and APLU for providing me with this experience and the chance to be surrounded by the issues, people, and policies I find so interesting.
—Claire Stieg, 2014
Association of Public & Land-grant Universities
Claire Stieg is a member of the ANRP Internship Program sister experience called the Public Policy Internship Program.
Howdy! My name is Marea Pappas and I am interning in Rome, Italy this summer with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Rome is a huge, vibrant city with so much history. Every day I get to walk by the Colosseum on my way to work leaving me constantly in awe! It is very surreal seeing ancient ruins as part of my daily routine here in Rome.
Working at FAO has been great so far! I am learning quite a bit about how an international organization conducts business at such a high level. I am working with the livestock information, sector analysis and policy branch. I’ve spent most of my time thus far researching for my project. I am focusing on the contribution of smallholder livestock production systems to poverty reduction and economic growth – with specific emphasis on the potential impact of any ‘second generation exit’ effect. I also interact with many animal health interns, which has taught me a lot about the one health concept.
I have enjoyed every minute of my time spent here in Italy travelling, meeting new people, and learning about the culture. There is so much I have already accomplished, yet there is still so much left that I want to do in Italy!