An Ode to D.C.

Having lived in D.C. for 10 weeks this summer, I can honestly say I have never felt more at home any place else, even Ann Arbor. D.C. has this amazingly unique feel of a big city in a small town. At only 68.34 sq mi (as compared to NYC’s 468.9), D.C. is quite petite! Yet, there is a never-ending list of opportunities, events, and celebrations going on, with many literally right around the corner from wherever you may be. In my limited time in D.C., I attended over 50 meetings, visited over 10 museums, posed in front of 7 memorials, earned one free kayaking trip, ate at countless delicious restaurants and bars and experienced a truly once-in-a-lifetime summer.

As someone interested in eventually going to law school, D.C. was a particularly attractive area this summer as it’s currently fighting through a fairly vicious pre-presidential election cycle. If never ending snark and constant not-so-hushed debate isn’t your thing, D.C. might not be the place for you. For me though, my morning and afternoon metro rides and not-so-subtle eavesdropping were often the highlights of my day.

These metro ride info sessions lead me to the ultimate prize that is D.C. – its people. When asked about my favorite thing D.C. had to offer this summer, I continuously said its people. D.C. is far and beyond any other city I have ever lived in in terms of its citizens. Every single person I met in D.C. – from the visiting Scottish Parliamentarians down to my fellow lowly interns – was engaging, smart, and incredibly well-educated on at least one issue I had previously had no knowledge or experience in. If networking is the key to success, then D.C. holds the master key.

Having now been away from D.C. for almost a month, I can now fully express how much I miss it. From the conveniently located (yet regretfully pricey) Whole Foods, to the not so close but ever so amazing Smithsonian’s; from (usually bottomless) mimosas at literally any D.C. restaurant on Sunday mornings, to light night memorial walks, there is not one memory from my summer in D.C. that I don’t cherish or miss. I can only hope to one day return to these old haunts and to hopefully make some new ones.

memorials

 

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What have you learned about the city in which you are working? Would you like to return? | Prompt #9

Manhattan offers many learning experiences!

One of these was my commute. I’d visited NYC and traveled on the subway before, but this was usually during during off-peak hours and uneventful. Living and working in the city meant riding during rush hour, however, and this was a very different experience. It took me several weeks to get used to being squished into train cars with an overload of other commuters. It was also novel to encounter a stream of performers in subway cars and platforms that played for people on their way home.

On a related note, my inexperience with the subway also ensured that I continued to encounter new environments. Accidental trips on the wrong train happened when I wasn’t paying close attention — luckily this was generally when I wasn’t in a hurry, so I was able to stop and smell the roses in my unintended destinations while I puzzled over how to get home.

I do think that I’d like to return. I’d heard that people’s relationship with the city tends to be love it or hate it. I did encounter many people in those categories, but I also found many who have a pragmatic relationship with Manhattan — they don’t feel especially passionate one way or the other, but appreciate it for all the practical things it offers. I think I also fall in this category. I don’t see city life itself as reason enough to return, but all the tangibles that NYC offers make it a likely place to come for future career opportunities.

Session 5 & 6/ #4

Over the past six weeks, the LIT program has been going on and I have been busy and fully devoted to running the program. Since the LIT program is only during two week sessions, for the last two weeks of camp, I have been a regular senior counselor, meaning I’ve been placed in regular activity hours and in a cabin with younger kids. During fifth session, I had 10 year old girls, and during sixth session I had 7 and 8 year olds. I had a lot of fun working with the younger campers after being with 15 year olds all summer. It was a very different experience because I just had the seven campers in my cabin to devote all of my attention to instead of 40 or so LITs. This allowed for me to do a lot more with them and get to know them better.

One of the major differences between younger and older campers is the amount of supervision that should be devoted to the younger kids. Most of the LITs have been coming to camp for years and years and are familiar with the way that everything works. With the younger campers however, you have to “teach camp” to them and make sure that they’re taking care of themselves. This aspect of having younger campers allows for a lot more involvement in what they’re doing all the time because they are so much more dependent on you. While this can be challenging with problems such as homesickness and bedwetting, it’s also rewarding to feel needed by your campers and know that you’re doing a lot for them.

 

A Reflection || Blog 5

Initially coming into this internship, I wasn’t sure if I had chosen correctly.  Not only was this internship completely different from my intended course of study, but I was also going to stay a summer within Ann Arbor.  I wasn’t so sure if, career-wise, that was the greatest internship that I could take during the summer.

But at the end of the internship, I realized that not only have I learned valuable skills in terms of different statistical programs, but I also gained an appreciation for different fields of sciences.  I never would have expected to not only enjoy branching out towards different scientific fields, nor would I have expected to continue my summer internship into the actual school year.

If anything, the summer really has taught me the importance of spreading out towards different options and not sticking towards a single path.  Even if I do like spending my time within a biochemistry lab alone painstakingly conducting experiments.

Session 3 Service Project/ #3

One of the major highlights of my job so far was the service project we did for session three. Traditionally, the LIT service projects have included projects like making new signs for campsites around camp, painting canoes or paddle boards, or small building projects like a woodshed or new campsites. Over the past few summers the number of campers in the LIT program has grown and it has made these types service projects less engaging because there’s not something for all of them to do at once. I wanted to move away from this type of project and do something more memorable and meaningful.

Instead of doing a traditional service project this session, we had the campers volunteer at the Indian River summer fest. This service project served camp in a more abstract way than the service projects in the past have. It is important to have a good relationship with the surrounding community. Our goal in volunteering at this festival was to show the community some of the work we do with the campers and establish a positive relationship with them.

We took them to downtown Indian River  in two groups over two different days. The campers helped run games for kids such as limbo, ring toss, hula hoops, and a bounce house and slide. They had a blast interacting with the children at the festival and being in a fun environment while providing a service to the community. I definitely think it would be beneficial to continue to bring LITs there to volunteer in future summers.

Networking, Cars, Final Thoughts | Blog #5

My time in Washington has come to an end, and I write this from the comfort of my home in Illinois, relaxing from an exhausting summer while anxiously awaiting the start of the school year.

I enter my third year at Michigan with a tremendous amount of practical experience and knowledge, both of the inner workings of the iron triangle of policy development and of Washington as a whole.

But I also enter this year with something external, something so banal and yet crucial in a career in politics: connections.

Dan Egan, the slick, always-plotting communications staffer in HBO’s “Veep” has a point: “You gotta network to get work.” I try not to be as opportunist as Mr. Egan, but sometimes one’s location has a specific calling. The District of Columbia might as well be known as the District of Networking; it’s simply a part of the fabric.

I leave Issue One with a few more LinkedIn connections, to be sure, but it’s not just limited to my place of work. In between days, I would speak to reporters or other figures in politics. Every email I sent to an editorial board or a radio producer was a potential linkage in the future; maybe at a job interview, I could say (more eloquently than this), “I demonstrated my professionalism when I reached out to you from Issue One!” Simultaneously daunting and enthralling, networking is part and parcel of Washington life.

I knew this would be the case at a meet-up of current and former Michigan Daily writers at the National Press Club in early June. Of course, plenty of the alumni were in the media industry and asked us current students and recent graduates what we were doing over the summer. Interest in my line of work fell by the wayside (at least until I mentioned I was in communications at Issue One) compared to the other flashier positions, at NPR or the Washington Post or NBC.

It didn’t matter too much, anyway; most of the alumni were inconveniently retired. But the sentiment was all the same. Shameless networking at a social event was nothing out of the ordinary for these seasoned Washingtonian veterans.

I reached out to a number of Supreme Court correspondents, essentially a dream job, and only one responded. Luckily, that one response came from the correspondent I most admire, Adam Liptak of the New York Times, who was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize a number of years ago. Mr. Liptak and I had a pleasant phone conversation in which he revealed the tricks of the trade, or at least perhaps what he teachers in some of the many law school courses he teaches. Either way, that Mr. Liptak knows my name and has seen my work, and gave a standing offer to reach out to him at any time is promising for me.

 

My mother came to take me home, but we stayed for a few days so she could relish in her old stomping grounds. She had attended the University of Maryland in College Park, just a few miles from the center of Washington, and had spent about nine years after her graduation living in the city, where she met my father.

On one day, we used a car to drive out to Glen Echo, a charming park that used to be fairgrounds, and to Great Falls, a park that straddles the Virginia and Maryland border and features some impressive waterworks.

Having access to a car was a luxury, but, in a way, I’m glad I was forced to rely on public transit for the remainder of the summer. Tending to a car must be exhausting and there’s nowhere to park. I suppose the benefit of being able to easily access a lot of places is a huge upside. Who knows?

 

It was an utter joy to work at Issue One. The company has the energy of a start-up (and the size) yet feels so capable of changing policy. There’s just an excited feeling in the air.

Being able to dominate a corner of the knowledge market — I feel like I know so much about money in politics — was an absolute gift and I’m excited to be able to continue working for Issue One as a freelancing writer.

Nitarudi (I will return)|#5

As I wrap up my experience in Tanzania, all I can think about is how someday nitarudi (I will return). Working in Tanzania has left such a big impression on me and I know I will return to this beautiful country after I finish school. My internship abroad has taught me more than I could have imagined and I’m now confident that I will pursue public health education and community services in the future.

Working in a developing country exposed me to so many new scenes and situations. I have learned so much about East African culture and now have a better understanding of the daily lives of many Tanzanians. I have found that living and actively work in the same community is very rewarding. I’ve enjoyed helping educate elderly community members as well as young students about the importance of clean and safe water. I am also very thankful for the many homes I was invited into since I’ve learned so much from the many Tanzanians that I’ve conversed with. It has excited me to have been able to share ideas between cultures about clean water, education, global warming, and politics.

Working in Morogoro has been overwhelmingly enjoyable. It has been amazing working for an organization that is passionate about helping people gain access to clean water. For one of the first times I have felt excited about my work and have been happy to work with others that have shared the same visions.

I am happy to have helped where I could for the past six weeks that I have been in Morogoro, Tanzania. Although I believe it has been too short of a stay, I have been happy to see some projects come full circle. I can remember how just four days after arriving in Tanzania I was sent to Soloveya village to help conduct a water filter seminar. Visiting this rural village was a very memorable experience. Here I helped with a seminar for around 30 villagers who were interested in learning about the importance of clean water and receiving a water filter. After the seminar I visited the village’s water source, a small shallow pond, and here I gained a better understanding of the reality of the millions in our world who are without access to clean water. About 5 1/2 weeks later when I began finishing my internship, I heard about the upcoming water filter installation trips to Soloveya. Some of the same villagers I had worked with in Soloveya were now receiving water filters. This exciting news resonated through me. I found it wonderful to see some of what I call the fruits of education!

I have learned so much about public health education in a developing country through this experience. I am truly grateful for every individual I have met while abroad and for every individual that has helped make this opportunity real. Someday, nitarudi Tanzania tena.

The Summer as a Whole | Blog #5

While my experience is not quite over, I have been working my hardest for four short months and a lot has happened between May and now.

I remember starting back in May, I felt a little lost. The test stand was close to being fully functional for the first time. I took up the challenge though. Spending some long days — not to mention the nights where lab was all I could think about — I got caught up and became familiar code, testing and positioners. This allowed me to fit into a role that was previously unfilled in the lab. This made the test stand my own research project; I know it, I operate it and I improve it. I began directing myself for the most part, this gave me a huge opportunity to do well — or fail if I had not motivation.

I had no intention of failing.

By June I began creating things of my own: nifty scripts to show the positioners in a different way and stuff like that. I worked on analysis too. I created plots to try to point out problems. I used statistics too, which felt a little weird since I had never before used statistics so instinctively to look at data before but I could tell, and others let me know too, that it was good and useful that I was doing this.

By July I began doing technical writeups of procedures and the set up. So that others could replicate it or so that others could be trained to do it. I began participating in group meetings with both our lab and some engineers and LBNL. For these meetings I would write reports and present my data on the now smoothly running test stand. I joined in on discussions about the the issues that were being observed with positioners and offered my analysis.

By August I really began to feel as a team member with the lab. My input was valued and others approached me often to know how the testing goes. I will let you know too, it feels great to be part of a team.

Overall it feels like I got to this position through a lot of hard work and dedication. Obviously having some prior experience in programming, troubleshooting, hardware and analysis helped me too but this gave me a lot more experience with those too. Some other things that I gained experience in was working as a team and giving presentations on my work — explaining it in a technical sense. This is all very valuable but it is only half of what I get to take away from this. The other half is that I worked on an exciting science project the DESI project which has a good chance of producing exciting results in the near future. Also all of the contacts I have made with my lab members, professional physicists and engineers are irreplaceable. If I ever need some help, advice or recommendations I have plenty of people I can trust to go to.

This experience has basically been the dream for me continuing my plans to go to graduate school to study physics.

Final Thoughts | #5

As the summer came to a close, so did my time in Florida. In reflection of my experience I am happy to note a positive one for my second summer as an intern at Harris Corporation. I am able to say that I had completed and succeeded at many more tasks than the summer before and I felt a larger sense of accomplishment. I am sure that comes with having multiple internships and gaining experience in general but it allowed me to appreciate what more time in my field and on the job can really do.

 

To end my internship at work I voluntarily prepared a short presentation to give to my team. In retrospect I am not really sure what I was thinking volunteering to do that, but nonetheless it is good experience to practice. My presentation highlighted a little bit about me and my background/interests, the tasks that I worked on throughout the summer, what I learned and will take away from those tasks and some of the challenges and successes that I had over the summer. Not only was the presentation good practice, but it gave me a chance to look deeper at the tasks I was given and what I can take away from my summer of software engineering.

 

With only one semester left of school, it is becoming crunch time for full time job search. I am fairly confident that I will receive an offer from this company and I am looking forward to all the other opportunities that I will search for as well. I couldn’t leave without getting some feedback about my performance this summer, and was happy to hear some helpful tips from my manager. What stuck out to me the most was his encouragement for me to have more confidence. I hope to improve on that along with many other skills that I have learned in the workplace. Thank you for a great experience Harris!

 

Potential Cooperation | Blog 4

Written on August 10th:

Last week one of my coworkers approached me with a very interesting opportunity that caused me to realize exactly how important these international experiences are in a global world. He proposed a potential collaboration with him at the Climate Protection and Energy Institute in Germany and the University of Michigan. I feel anything along these lines is very interesting and productive so naturally I agreed to meet with him to discuss it further in depth and work on his behalf as a Michigan student. Over ice cream, he told me more of what he had in mind and that he was looking to work with a master student to further research on the subject of energy performance contracting in Europe. Cooperations between him and a professor and master students at the University of Illinois already exist and he was hoping to be able to do something similar with the University of Michigan.

This is a very exciting prospect and I will be working to contact the necessary individuals here at the UM Energy Institute in an attempt to foster a relationship between both organizations. Although the work is still focused on energy contracting in Europe, it is unquestionably valuable for graduate students here in the United States to learn from the processes that are finding success and expanding in helping Europe to reshape their energy systems.