Week #1 – The Budget Control Act and its Profound Impact on my Life
Washington has been a unique and exciting experience thus far. The generic expectations of life such as work and academics are only the foundation of what has been a broad experiential process this past week. Filling in the gaps between these pillars are opportunities that weren’t apparent or expected. I spent my Thursday attending networking and informational events on Capitol Hill as well as across the Potomac. These events, both focusing on national security and the new defense budget, immersed me into the atmosphere of my internship. They also provided me with an excellent opportunity to network with professionals in the industry I will be interning in, making them invaluable experiences. I have found the prospects of this city to be nearly endless.
This new city has a large set of “unwritten rules” that are ritually followed by its citizens. Escalator etiquette (walkers on the left, standers on the right) is the most prevalent of these traditions, being demonstrably vital to surviving in the city. The local influence of widespread professionalism dominates the atmosphere of Washington, and always demands cordiality and professional demeanor. Fortunately, my internship does not abide by a strict set of rules. If I have nothing to do in the office, I am encouraged to leave and take advantage of what the city has to offer. This is awesome and it encourages me to make the most out of my experience, whether that is in the office, at a conference or just out exploring the city.
I am a research analyst (that’s the name they give interns, I think it’s pretty cool!) for the Potomac Advocates. A significant amount of responsibility is placed upon the other interns and I for a variety of tasks. As a defense consulting firm, my office sends out several reports to clientele with information regarding various topics in defense. My primary responsibility for the current time being is to create one of these reports weekly, specifically on cyber security. I also work directly with one of the partners on tasks involving a specific client of his, and I imagine that I will be used to perform whatever miscellaneous tasks are needed to aid the partners with their work. My favorite responsibility involves being a courier for the firm, taking documents to the Senate and House office buildings on a regular basis!
Washington, DC runs on a different wavelength than the rest of the world. While the general public thrives on sports, music and keeping up with the Kardashians, the culture of Washington centers around a different, more refined nucleus. This past Tuesday, I was bewildered to discover that President Obama’s State of the Union Address was the Capitol’s equivalent of the layman’s Super Bowl, filling every bar and restaurant in the city with animated and charismatic viewers. Washington’s inherent bond to politics and government is perhaps the city’s most defining trait, and is what separates it from any other city on earth.
This has had a significant impact on my stay in Washington. Working for a defense consulting firm, I have been submerged into the political atmosphere of DC quicker than I would have ever expected. Only two days after the State of the Union Address, the interns in the office were summoned for another big event. Due to the Budget Control Act passed by Congress, the Department of Defense was mandated to cut almost $500 billion from the defense budget over the next decade. This has huge implications on defense contractors, who will be scrambling to determine how it will affect their business with the government. A very long story made short – the Budget Control Act will dictate almost every action that I take for the next 13 weeks of my internship! I think that’s pretty cool, and am very excited to see how my firm, as well as the entire Washington community, embraces this new situation.