Living here in DC among so much history, huge monuments, and so many powerful people can be overwhelming. It is easy to get intimidated by this town. Everyone here is serious and always acts professional. It seems like even after hours this city has a sense of sophistication. Being an intern on the Hill can be quite scary. Because you are only there for a few short months, you have to learn everything quickly. You must master the small tasks so that you can be entrusted with more substantial projects.
It is expected for interns to do some of the mundane tasks such as answering phones and entering mail or survey data. However, you would be amazed at how much entertainment can come from these simple tasks. I could tell you numerous stories of how I got lost giving my first tour or how when an elected official called, I asked for her name and address. But in addition to these simpler tasks, there are many other projects that come up throughout the day. These bring with them their own set of adventures. One of my most interesting stories comes from one of my most exciting assignments.
I was assigned a research project that sent me to the Library of Congress. My boss called and told me his friend of many years, and staff person at the LOC, was going to show me where to go and what to find. I was so excited! I meet him at his office and we head over. We are walking along, conversing when on the steps of the Library of Congress, I take a plunge! Yes, I fell head first, flat on my face. My purse and the contents thereof scattered like marbles.
I attempted to quickly recover and gathered my things from all over the steps of the Library. I pull myself together, hoping there is no blood. I, of course, try to ease the pain of my wounded pride and quickly blame it on a crack in the concrete. These old buildings–shouldn’t someone be maintaining this stuff! We then continue on our mission as if nothing happened and I successfully complete my project.
The reason I tell you this humiliating story is because I learned a significant lesson from this experience. There have been many times these past few weeks were I simply had to cope with the fact that this is a learning experience. I do not know all there is to know about being an intern on the Hill and I probably never will. The great thing about being an intern though, is that no one expects you to know everything. That is why the elected official just laughed and sweetly told me who she was and the people on my tour thanked me for the extra loop we made in the Capitol Visitor Center because they enjoyed the scenery. Most people understand what it is like to make silly mistakes and forgive you for them instantaneously.
I believe having these embarrassing moments enabled me to see a different part of DC. The friendly, human side of the city. I realized that this city is not as scary as I once thought it was. The atmosphere is much more relaxed knowing I have already lost my flawless intern facade.
I feel like I have learned so much from my mistakes. I am learning how to laugh at myself, stand up and keep walking. Honestly, I doubt any of the people in these stories have given my mistakes a second thought. I have learned that sometimes the person judging us the hardest is ourselves.
– Miesha S., Star Fellow Spring 2010