This year has been a time of ups, downs, and absolute craziness. Whether it was a global pandemic, wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington, or the presidential election, nothing this year has been predictable or average. Despite the setbacks of 2020, my internship this fall semester with the House Committee on Agriculture has been nothing short of amazing!
My name is Anna Lad, and I’m a master’s student currently studying Science and Technology Journalism here at Texas A&M, after graduating in May ’20 with a Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences degree. However, this semester, I was able to be part of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy (ANRP) internship program as a virtual intern.
During the months I’ve interned virtually for the Ag Committee, I’ve learned a bevy of new things. However, I think these five are the ones that will stick with me for years to come!
- Don’t be afraid to Ask Questions! – Washington D.C. is a networking community. Most tasks, assignments, and jobs are all passed on via word-of-mouth. Because I’m a virtual intern, I have to be more intentional. This semester, I’ve learned to email people I’ve never met and ask for a 15-minute Zoom coffee, something that was pretty daunting at first. I make sure to be more attentive in meetings and briefings as well as ask questions right away. In non-Covid times, I could just swing by a person’s desk. Now, I make sure to cover all my bases or else the email chains get way too long!
- Keep a Record of People You Meet – There are a lot of people in Washington D.C. You want to remember as many as possible – not because ‘she who networks the most wins’, but because most people are genuine fountains of knowledge and advice. If you have a terrible memory, like me – or even if you don’t – an address book or excel sheet is a great idea. In mine, I list everyone I’ve “met” with in virtual meetings, what we talked about, and when. That way, I can thank them for their time, follow up later, and keep tabs on my assignments. To be honest, it’s just great to put faces to names. The rapidly changing nature of the House this fall only makes it even more crucial to get to know everyone.
- It’s OK if you get COVID-19! My supervisor and my coworkers were so understanding when I came down with coronavirus midway through October. Luckily, I had a mild case and was only out for a few days. Because I was virtual, I could return to the work-from-home life while my quarantine was still in effect.
- Set up an Office Schedule & Area – It’s so important to be able to manage your time wisely, especially if you have a lot going on! I’m in an interesting spot because I’m interning part-time for the House Agriculture Committee, while starting grad school full time here at Texas A&M. I had to come up with some effective organization solutions really quickly. That included:
- Time blocking my days for school and my internship
- Doing ANRP work only at my desk (except when it’s nice outside!)
- Reading up on background information in my spare time
- Dress Up for Work – We’re all familiar with the pajama pants + dress shirt combination. That doesn’t mean it’s a good one, however. Putting on business casual clothes for my virtual meetings and projects helped me to get in the professional mindset. I’m not saying jacket and heels, but it was definitely a beneficial mental shift to prepare beforehand. Since virtual interns can’t commute to work, I think we miss out on the transition to that mindset. I’ve found that maintaining business casual clothes helps me get ready for working.
These are just a few of the lessons I’ve learned in the last few months in my internship with the House Committee on Agriculture.
What have your experiences working or interning during this pandemic taught you? What advice would you give to other students?
House Committee on Agriculture
Washington, D.C. | fall 2020