As my semester in D.C. comes to an end, I have been reflecting on what this experience with The Washington Center has given me. Professional development is at the core of TWC programming. However, as much as I have grown professionally, I have grown personally as well. I have become more independent and confident, and for that I am indebted to The Washington Center.
I had never lived in a sizeable metropolitan area before this. The largest city I have called home is one of 18,000 people; compare that to the 700,000 people living in D.C. In other words, I was exposed to a new thing every single day, such as large crowds, the metro system, and long commutes.
While that was overwhelming at first, over time I learned how to be adaptable. This adaptability led to me feeling more independent. For example, I did not have nearby family, friends, or university officials to rely on when an obstacle presented itself during my commute.
Sometimes elevators at the metro station would undergo maintenance, which would require me to find an alternate route to work or advocate for myself to obtain a shuttle. Although daunting at times, I realized that I was able to handle living in this new environment.
With this newly found independence, I am more confident than I have ever been. I was not comfortable walking into a room and introducing myself to new people, especially professionals, prior to interning with The Washington Center. I would not willingly attend networking events. The Washington Center programming taught me how to create my elevator pitch and conduct informational interviews.
This practice made me more comfortable talking about myself in front of congressional staff and government affairs professionals. Additionally, my projects that I have worked on in my internship have made me more confident with my chosen career path. Receiving positive feedback on reports I have written for House leadership and higher-ups in my office have strengthened my faith in my abilities as a young professional.
These skills will not only enhance my professional persona, they will also change how I carry myself in my personal life. Due to developing these traits, I know I will be going back to my home university as a better version of myself than I was before. I know I can conquer any obstacle, physical or psychological, and take steps to achieving my goals.