For this post, I will share a few things I have learned from a month of living and working in DC. Many of these lessons I expected to learn, but a few have surprised me over the past few weeks.
My organization can always be improved, especially at the office. I had thought myself a rather organized person at school, but having multiple projects at once with varying deadlines and dates on complicated topics such as healthcare can often lead to confusion. I find it always beneficial to take some time at the beginning and end of each work day to make sure all of my work is as organized as possible, planning out my work for the next few days. And this is all while I only have a maximum of three projects at any time…I can’t imagine how some of the senior staff stay on top of everything.
People love to talk about their work and passions. When I ask employees at my office about the work they do, how they got involved, and their other passions, I’m fascinated by the wide range of answers I receive. It gives me confidence that there are so many different career paths that people follow and end up in similar positions. The best piece of advice I believe I’ve received so far is to find and develop a deep academic passion of mine, allowing that to take me along my career path.
Never hesitate to ask your boss and coworkers about an unfamiliar term or topic. No amount of googling can explain an unfamiliar topic as well as an expert in the field can, and inquiry into someone’s expertise can easily lead to the aforementioned connection with their work and passions. These types of questions have also expanded my knowledge on areas important to my work, which gives me a great head start on some projects.
Your feet can take you almost anywhere in DC, and sometimes it’s nice to walk instead of using transportation. It seems like I’ve walked the national mall about a dozen times already since I’ve been in Washington, but it truly is one of the most beautiful monuments to simply walk along.
Along similar lines, the layout of the city with numbered and lettered streets is ingenious. I’ve been here for barely a month and I have already become accustomed to navigating the city without using my phone’s map–something I even have to do sometimes at home.
On more exploring notes, I doubt I will run out of museums and parks to explore, and I doubt I will run out of food from new cultures to try in DC…despite eating ramen and mac & cheese for most of the meals I cook in my dorm.