So What’s It Really Like Interning In DC?

Imagine this, you’re 21, about to graduate from college and have an internship in Washington, DC. Sounds great, right? You have to commute in all weather conditions, it is more than likely unpaid and you get taken away from what should be your main priority: school work. And while the internship of course has its amazing perks, some downsides that should be considered as well.

An internship in Washington, D.C., has its definite upsides. Senior government and politics major Melissa Silva had an internship last fall semester near Farragut North in the nation’s capital at the League of United Latin American Citizens, which is the oldest surviving Latino civil rights organization in the U.S. it focuses on policy and social issues in the Latino community.

As a LULAC intern, or democracy change agent, Silva helped to organize events, worked on congressional and student scheduling, consult banking during elections and helped their Federal Transportation Improvement Program (FTIP) and other secretarial duties, for a $100 stipend.

Photo by Pexels

Silva described her experience as an overall positive one but warns of some downfalls to an internship in Washington. For example, every day the commute would take Silva around an hour or more, depending on traffic, to get to her internship from her apartment in College Park.

She would have to rely on public transportation and if she were to miss her metro then it would take her even longer to get home, which she said, left her less time to complete school assignments. It would cost about $9 to get there and back each day she had to go to her internship, which was about three days a week.

In addition to having to pay for a long commute, Silva also said that her internship cut into her study time.

“I feel like I never had time to work on my assignments, especially when I sometimes didn’t have work to do I feel like I was wasting my time when I could have just been working on my assignments,” Silva said.

Although, the internship did offer real job experience, Silva was not always working on tasks that directly involved government and politics. The internship did involve policy and current events, which is what Silva discusses in her classes at the university, which was an upside.



Photo of Melissa Silva (far right, bottom row) and her fellow interns at LULAC, courtesy of Silva.

Some tips that Silva wanted to share about getting an internship in Washington, D.C., would be to find one that pays and hopefully pays decently.

Because Washington is such an expensive city, even just to travel to and work in. Between travel, food and the occasional after-work drink (if you’re of age), things could add up quickly, not to mention all of your school expenses on top of that.

Also, when it comes to unpaid internships, she added, “Do not let the company overwork you.”

Why work more for less?

The internship Silva had went toward college credit — a huge benefit of the internship — so look out for opportunities that could benefit you while you’re still in school and once you graduate, too!

But, most importantly, apply for as many internships as possible, because you never know!

When you’re in college it’s drilled into you that you have to get internships, network and make connections, and a Washington internship would be a great place for that.

Any job or internship has its pros and cons and an internship in Washington, D.C., is no exception. Follow your dreams, but more importantly, work toward them, too!