Fortunately, I received some good advice from some folks familiar with Washington D.C. My friend who did the same program I’m doing (The Washington Center) gave me a plethora of great information and then, right before I was departing for my stay, she texted me and told me she almost forgot to tell me the most important thing: “Stand on the right, and walk on the left. If you don’t, you’ll get shoved.” What? Are you kidding me? This is that critical? What she was referring to was the escaltors in the DC metros. She was the first to tell me…followed by about a dozen others. This highlights the lifestyle of DC, which is fast-paced and aggressive. Of course, I took her advice.
So, I’m two and half weeks into my experience here in the District of Columbia and I must say that it is a totally different experience than I have ever had before for various reasons. Within this short amount of time, I have learned more than I ever have…baptism by fire is certainly the right phrase to insert here. At my internship site, I am asked to do weekly reports that we send out to our clients on energy from a policy/budget, technology and industrial aspect. Without much further explanation, I took to it or, I should say, more fittingly, I flailed my way through it. That hasn’t even been the most challenging thing yet.
Next, I was asked to anaylze Big Data Analytics for another client of ours. Don’t ask how I began to work my way through this, but I did. Apart from sounding really ”cool” telling people you’re doing Big Data Analytics, there is a lot of practicality to it. Basically, I read a breadth of information on unstructured data and how software programs are able to make sense of this by structuring it. From my understanding this seems quite practical in terms of marketing and even our current healthcare system…if fully implemented.
The days are certainly long, yet very eventful and very busy. My firm allows us to attend conferences and congressional hearings. A lot of what we do deals with national defense and security so, naturally, the conferences and hearings we attend deal exclusively with this. It’s an amazing learning experience and I didn’t know I could learn so much within such a short amount of time. In one of the congressional hearings I attended I sat about 40 feet away from Michelle Bachmann (whether or not this was desirable I won’t say here…but it was certainly surreal to be vis-a-vis with a former presidential candidate). This hearing was held by the Intelligence Committee and the topic was “World Wide Threats.” Among the topics they highlighted, they touched primarily on cyber threats and Iranian threats. It was twice reiterated that we will be “facing an immanent and catastrophic cyber attack.” Even writing this sends chills down my spine. Likewise, on the topic of Iran, I can’t help but feel slightly insecure considering how close I am to the potential target. It’s safe to say that the current administration is not resting much with this threat weighing quite heavily on their minds.
When I’m not swamped with my duties and obligations with class, work or programming, I like to do some exploring. One day, my friend and I went on a jog … our destination: The White House. It was my first time standing in front of this amazing place richly filled with history and wonderment (yes, I know, it’s quite pathetic that I have never been to D.C. until now. Of course, like any other middle school, mine went on a field trip but I wasn’t able to go…that’s a different story, however). I couldn’t help but stare like any other tourist and be held in awe, not quite being able to grasp exactly what I was seeing.
(I repeatedly had my friend reassure me I wouldn’t get shot for taking this. I didn’t, evidently)
I’m still feeling my way around this city, especially that cumbersome metro system. But, in all honesty, there isn’t a whole lot to adjust to. Like anything else, you just get used to it, go with it and flow it. With a dash of confidence and a little aggression when need be it’s truly an amazing experience. The only danger, apart from getting trampled on while riding the escalators, is falling in love with this city and never returning to the place whence you came from.