Last week during Campus Overload Live, I chatted with Deirdre Martinez, director of the Penn in Washington program, who gave advice on what to wear, how to turn an internship into a job and how to ask for a heavier workload.
During the chat, one reader asked: “How can you show your awe and amazement of working on Capitol Hill, walking through the hallowed halls and seeing political ‘celebrities,’ while at the same time showing that you are mature and know when to act professional?”
Martinez answered: “It’s not easy to pretend that it’s no big deal that someone you respect and admire just walked by you, or you just shared an elevator with your hero. But you pretty much have to go with that last part of your question — be mature, show them that you aren’t a tourist — you are here to learn how things work so that you can come back and be a star yourself. If it’s any consolation, I have seen Members of Congress be silly when a movie star walks in the room...”
And while many interns have the opportunity to work with very important people, Martinez said that’s not an excuse for an intern to act like he or she is just as important. She calls it the “DC bubble’ view of the world.”
“[F]or example, “I am working in the Office of the Vice President of the United States, the Vice President is really important and is doing important stuff all the time, so his office is really important, so I must be really important.” This attitude sometimes results in more drama/competition than is probably necessary. Having worked in offices where there has been drama, I would suggest that the ‘important’ person really should take it down a notch. The fact is, there are lots of bright, capable people who could step into your job tomorrow and the world would keep spinning. Do a good job with a minimum of fuss, and you will be valued, but if you bring drama to the workplace, that gets noticed and is not appreciated.”
You can read the full transcript of the chat, here, and make sure to check out Campus Overload Live this Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Send in some questions now.