1. You share a basement with three roommates
Finding affordable housing in D.C. is tough enough. Finding it for just a couple of months can lead to some unique arrangements. Maura Currie, 22, who interned with an NPR program last summer, ended up cat-sitting at someone’s home in exchange for cheaper rent. “Ask friends, colleagues, family and friend-of-friends,” she says. “Be open to a service deal [doing work for reduced rent] rather than a real sublet or short-term rental.”
2. Your feet are unprepared for your commute
Emma Kapoor, 21, had to run through the rain in ballet flats to her first day at the D.C. software company Sayari. Avoid hobbling down Georgetown’s cobblestone roads in heels, or trying to climb a broken Metro escalator in wet flats, by wearing flip-flops or sneakers to commute and changing at the office.
3. You rock your lanyard, even during happy hour
When 5 p.m. hits, you’re headed to drink in Dupont Circle — still wearing your badge, so everyone knows you intern on Capitol Hill. It’s a conversation starter, right?
4. You hunt for cheap ways to chill with friends
That weekly intern stipend isn’t going to cover everything (especially after paying your rent), so you’ll have to be strategic. During the week, you exercise for free in Farragut Square with TriFit. You head to Jazz in the Garden on Fridays for live music. And you check out The Big Hunt’s comedy schedule for free local stand-up shows on certain days.
5. You make iced coffee runs with a pack of interns
Getting coffee is to be expected as an intern — use those coffee runs to your advantage. Former WUSA9 intern Megan Enright, 21, says coffee outings are a great way to make friends with your peers. To save dough, hit up Dunkin’ Donuts for Transit Tuesday to take advantage of their deal for a $2 medium iced coffee with your Metro card.
6. You protect your Metro card like it’s your firstborn
You snugly secure your Metro card right after purchasing a SelectPass, which allows you to pay a flat fee for 18 days of commuting travel at a specific price point and save on additional rides that month. Or you can ask your employer if they offer a subsidized Metro pass with the commuter fees taken right out of your paycheck, tax-free.
7. You’re still honing your business professional look
8. You make a connection with a mentor
You ask people in your office for coffee any chance you get and use the chance to pick their brains. Diana Sanchez, 35, senior multimedia designer and intern coordinator with think tank Third Way, advises that the whole point of being an intern is to learn. “We don’t expect our interns to know everything,” she says, “but we do expect them to be curious, self-starters and have positive attitudes.”
9. You suddenly become a Washington Nationals fan
Maybe it’s just the name, but the Nationals feel like America’s team — your team. You forget about your home team, snagging Bud and Baseball tickets (a seat and a beer!) for select games. The Nats also host special days for regional colleges like Georgetown University and James Madison University, and tickets come with a hat.
10. You make a few mistakes
Take it from Jack Norcross, 20, who accidentally wrote the name of the wrong Congress member as a co-sponsor on a resolution while he was a Capitol Hill intern three years ago. Like Norcross, you own up to your mistakes, even though for him it meant the member of Congress he worked for had to go to the House floor and publicly remove the wrong person from the resolution.
11. You try to squeeze in as much of D.C. as possible
You want to make the most of your limited time here. On a typical Saturday, you start out with a yoga class before getting bottomless brunch on a 14th Street rooftop. Afterward, you peruse Eastern Market for fresh produce, hit up a Smithsonian museum and end the night by catching some live music. Your Instagram story has never been so busy.