So You Got an Internship for Christmas?
Good for you!  D.C. is excited to have you here because, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, those of us in the non-profit sector, think tanks, and on the Hill depend upon you to keep our organizations running.  I was in your shoes.  I have been an intern more than once, starting a new adventure in a strange land.

Many thoughts went through my head in the weeks leading up to my internship at the Leadership Institute.  What if I can’t find my accommodation on the first day?  What if I’m not as smart as I thought?  What if, what if…

I’ve been there. Trust me, you will be great.

I want to use this last blog before Christmas to remind you of a few things which I hope will allow you to enjoy your Christmas and be excited to begin the New Year in Washington, D.C.

Most importantly, enjoy Christmas!  I know it sounds obvious, but this is your last chance to rest, spend time with your family, and enjoy home comforts before you get to D.C.  The first couple of months in the New Year are busy.  Catching up on work after Christmas, networking events, and not to mention CPAC!  You will have to be prepared to work hard, so don’t exhaust yourself by stressing out now.

You will be trained.  I know you want to come in and prove yourself from day one.  Remember that even your CEO was a beginner once.  We all need some practice to become good at our jobs.  Your bosses are used to having interns and will provide you with a basic level of training on how to use relevant software and databases, speak to stakeholders, produce reports, etc.  You should always strive to be the best, but remember that you will be forgiven for gaps in your knowledge.

D.C. may be big, but it’s friendly.  Big cities are daunting.  Coming from a small, industrial town in the heart of England, D.C. was another world to me.  But D.C. is a fluid city.  The vast majority of people who live and work here are away from home too.  You’re not alone.  Everyone in D.C. wants new friends, and you will find it easy to meet new people who share your political values, and your hobbies, which leads nicely onto my next point.

Events!  D.C. is a lively city; there is always something going on.  Whether it’s a stimulating debate at Heritage or CATO, a training at the Leadership Institute, or a drinks reception, you’ll never be without something to do.  Also, a little tip, you can eat for free most days in D.C., and many events have open bars.  Take your business cards and go meet some new people.  

Finally, there are ways you can plan ahead now:

  • Send your supervisors an introductory email or, better yet, call them!  Tell them a little about yourself, what you’d like to get out of the internship, and ask them any questions.  Trust me, this will impress your new boss and eliminate any initial anxieties.
  • Research, research, research!  Make sure you know your organization, its mission, and find out what your initial responsibilities will be.  Then you can prepare in advance.  Also, research some events and networking opportunities taking place when you arrive.  Then you will hit the ground running.
  • Get business cards printed.  In fact, stop reading and go do it right now!
  • Ask how to contact your fellow interns, set up a Facebook group, and get to know them.

There is plenty more I can say, but I want to end where I began.  You will be great.  Just work hard and make the most of your time here. 

And if we can help in your career, let Leadership Institute is here for you.  Come to one of our trainings or call for a free career consultation.  We’d love to meet you.

Merry Christmas!

Ben Woodward works with Leadership Institute's Conservative Jobs.  You can contact LI for a free career consultation and get career help on