“So how long have you been in D.C.?”

Just 16 days ago I flew into DCA, struggling to walk with my large suitcase and duffle bag while frantically searching for a group of UCDC students who I had never met before. My 16 days here have already been jam packed with orientations, seminars, full days of work, conferences and happy hours, and I look forward to many more crazy yet exhilarating days.

My name is Nicole and I’m a recent graduate of UCSB – if you want to get technical, I’m actually a 5th year on my last quarter. Having double majored in Linguistics and Global Studies at UCSB, I knew that I wanted to start a career in the field of International Relations. Unfortunately, California isn’t exactly the ideal place to find a job in IR. I had heard many success stories of graduating seniors participating in UCDC and securing full-time positions after their internships had ended, and I decided to give it a shot.


Where I’m interning: the Middle East Institute

I’m currently interning at the Middle East Institute, a non-partisan think tank on all things Middle Eastern. My days are filled with writing, editing and event planning, along with morning coffee with my boss and career-building seminars with my fellow interns. Just three days into my internship I attended MEI’s annual conference on Turkey with over 500 people in attendance and 12 different panelists discussing the recent coup, Turkey-EU relations and other regional issues. There’s nothing glorious about being an unpaid intern, but I’m absolutely loving working at MEI after just two weeks.


Visiting the White House with my roommate and suitemates  (Kelly Pearman, UCSB on my left)

One of the coolest things about being in DC is how close you are to the lawmakers and leaders of this country. From the UCDC center, the White House is a 10-minute walk away, and the Capitol Building is just a street down from there. The city is also full of monuments and historical museums, and I always feel as if I am passing something incredibly important while walking down the street. There’s nothing quite like being in Washington, D.C. during one of the most dramatic presidential elections in history.


Hanging out with some Hillary and Trump impersonators while watching the first presidential debate!

If you’re a 5th year like me, or a senior still trying to figure out what exactly you want to do with your life post-graduation, I would absolutely recommend doing UCDC. I’ve learned so much about networking and the working world in my short two weeks here, and I’m confident that I’ll learn significantly more before the program comes to an end. UCDC is such a great opportunity – take advantage of it while you’re still a student!


The D.C. Blur

Lincoln MemorialThere’s just no time to go to all the events available to UCDC students. I have seen panels talk about U.S. aid tied to humanitarian aid, Russian military presence in Syria, the TPP agreement, I’ve heard authors speak and I have met three ambassadors, a press president and trade representatives.Today while I was too tired to go to another event this morning, students from UCDC met Hillary Clinton.

There are happy hours with free food (and long lines), free cultural festivals and music events, historical museums and monuments in the city. Oh yeah, and while this is all going on, we are all working at an internship that makes us think about our career trajectories. Oh yeah, and homesickness to deal with so that nothing is as easy as it could be. I miss the beach, good sushi and my friends. But I know that I am here for a White Housereason. This internship and these networking opportunities are a once in a lifetime experience that will increase my competitiveness in any job market.

For Future UCDC Students:

How To GraphicSince all current UCDC students have now settled into their respective internships, I thought it might be helpful to write a post directed towards the future UCDC students. In this blog post, I assembled a short list of things that are easy to accomplish, but also very necessary in order to make the most of your internship here. This list aims to help make internships not only satisfactory, but also meaningful and worthwhile.

As you will come to know, the opportunities for internships in D.C. are endless. We have the ability to intern for any company we want, as long as we get the job. And what one intern may do on a day-to-day basis may differ greatly from another’s. Although this may be the case, this list should be able to relate to every student no matter his or her internship responsibilities or what company they intern for. At the lists core, each point relates directly back to what we all came here to do–to learn, to work, and most importantly to gain a better understanding of what we could see ourselves doing in the future.

How to Make Your Internship Worthwhile:

  1. Make The Most of Each Day
  2. Build and Maintain Connections
  3. Identify Personal Goals & Incorporate Them into Your Work

1. Making the most of each day
It goes without saying we all show up to work on time, ready to go, and ready to learn. We polish those shoes, brush that hair, and straighten that tie. But beyond that, interns need to remember to make a presence. Always assert yourself in the office and offer your help to anyone that might need it. If you find yourself not having much to do, talk to your supervisor and ask what else you might be able to assist him/her with. Don’t just wait for something to be handed to you. Making yourself available for additional assistance will show that you are willing to learn beyond what you signed up to do and it can land you projects you wouldn’t have got without asking. Doing so can also help build and maintain connections in your office (another step in this list).

Beyond the workplace, I believe a healthy balance between your personal life and your work life is pretty necessary in order to stay sane. An 8-5 work schedule that commonly consists of staring at a computer screen can become exhausting over time. This can become especially true when classes, readings, and homework are added on top of that work schedule. However, setting aside some time for you own personal interests gives you a chance to break that typical routine. Try that lunch spot you’ve been stalking on Yelp. Go sit in that park by your office during your lunch break. Take a walk and explore what’s around you. Find some things that interest you and go do them! Not only does it make your workweek more exciting, but it’s also a way to maximize the little time you have living in D.C.

2. Build and maintain connections
It’s all about connections. Although you may be branded as “the intern” remind yourself that everyone starts as an intern, and it is what you do with your internship that sets you up for success. During the first week of my internship (when I honestly didn’t have much to do except fill out paperwork and read the company handbook… which by the way was riveting…) I took the time to research my company’s founders, CEO’s, COO’s, and person’s of importance. I wrote down their names, looked up their backgrounds, and identified what their interests and business ethics were. Comparing each execs interests and goals with the company’s goals, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the each leader’s ambitions were reflected in almost every facet of the company. This background info not only lets you get a better feel for the company’s leaders, but also exposes you to what ideologies the company chooses to focus on and why.

Another task I did during my time of paperwork limbo was the typical Name Game. I challenged myself to meet everyone in the office and remember every individual’s name. With around 30 people, my office is relatively small, so this was doable. For offices of 50+, that might be a little unrealistic, but you should challenge yourself to as many as you can. Definitely introduce yourself to the people you aspire to work directly under. A small introduction can go a long way. I know names can be hard, but once they stick, they stick. And you never know when remembering a name can come in handy.

3. Identify your goals & incorporate them into your work
I personally believe this to be the most important aspect of making the most of your time here. Identifying your own goals not only reaffirms your interests, but can also spark some ideas about future projects and responsibilities you can work on within your internship. Some of us, myself included, do not get always get assignments that we dream of working on. Sometimes these tasks may be tedious and mundane, and other times they may have nothing to do with our personal interests. However, the truth is, as interns, we do not always get to start off doing the exact thing we love. BUT identifying what our goals are and relaying these goals to our supervisor allows for a greater conversation about what we can offer to the company as interns. This conversation can then lead to you being able to do more work under a sector you personally find direct interests in.

This may be the most broad step in creating a worthwhile experience, but incorporating what you love into what you do not only makes your work more worthwhile, but the time spent working more worthwhile as well. Getting involved in something that reflects your goals will not only boost your moral but enhance your work quality as well.

These steps may seem obvious, but they really do help during your first few weeks as the new intern. Good luck future UCDCians, we know you’ll kill it!

Student Blogger: Michaelyn

Annnd the first week is officially done! Congrats everyone, we’ve officially survived a whole week in the real world. (Well, sort of.) While most of us have started to settle into our new homes, workstations, and personal circles, an entire new chapter of our lives still waits to be unlocked here in DC. With internships ranging from the White House, to the DOD, to various NGOs, the participants of UCDC will slowly, but surely, begin to make their Californian mark on District soil.

So let’s start off by recapping the first week here. Students first navigated themselves from the airport to UCDC, took a good look at what would be their home for the next three months, and then unpacked what we had stuffed into our suitcases. Then (most) made a mad dash to the nearest Target to grab comforters, towels, pillows, and I’m sure at least one unnecessary item… (because who doesn’t love to get lost in Target only to stumble upon things they really don’t need, but think to themselves, “Hmm, this is pretty neat. Only $5? I’m sure I can find a use for this somewhere… Maybe.) From there, the traditional errands were carried out: finding the nearest grocery store, coffee shop, and CVS. Then, **small breath to relax** prepare yourself for your internship, classes, and yes, the arrival of the Pope.

Yea, the Pope. Well, what an amazing time to be a UCDC student. In real estate, it’s always about location, location, location. And boy, did we have location for his visit. At one point, the Pope was only a mere 0.2 miles away from our own front door, across the street at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Even if you stayed in your dorm, you were practically 2 minutes away from his mere presence. Then the Pope made his way around the East Coast, and sooner than we knew it he was gone. But then the Chinese President stopped by. And then we were blessed by a once-in-every-33-year “Supermoon.” Not to mention all those orientations. A lot seemed to be happening the first week at UCDC. And once we finally got a chance to take it all in, the week came to a close.

However, during this time, I was lucky enough to get my internship off due to the Pope’s visit. (Thanks man, I guess that whole “The Pope is Dope” saying really does apply here.) Since I didn’t need to come into my office until the following week, I made it my personal duty to try to accomplish everything I could within those 7 days. I wanted to explore, shop, try new food, as well as experience DC’s trademark nightlife. And let me just say– so far, DC has already surpassed my expectations.

DC food and architecture

From L-R: A Bub & Pop’s “Jewish Hoagie”, classic DC architecture and some empanadas from Julia’s Empanadas.

Exploring: **Whenever moving to a new city, I try to walk around as much as possible. It’s very easy to lose your bearings when you’re underground on the metro, so I tried to take it as minimally as possible.

First off, the architecture! Coming from the West Coast, I love seeing all the historic buildings that surround us. Walking from Dupont Circle to Adams Morgan, there are a ton of impressive homes. There are pops of color on almost every block, and the walk is quite enjoyable. Capitol Hill has some as well. However, Georgetown is my favorite neighborhood thus far. The brick, the lanterns, the trees–they all seem to do it for me.

Nam June Paik's "American Highway"

Nam June Paik’s “American Highway” 

I then explored around where the Nationals Stadium sits. A nearby park titled “Yard Park” boasts a beautiful view of the Potomac as well as a wonderful place to sit, read, and relax. About a fifteen minute walk from there is the Eastern Market, where people sell everything from fruits and vegetables, to jewelry, to paintings, to slightly strange refurbished denim outfits. This only happens on the weekends, but I would highly recommend. And beyond that the typical Mall walk was completed, exploring sites around the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Oh, and check out the Smithsonians if you can! The American Art museum has a really cool piece by Nam June Paik titled “American Highway.” Says a lot about American culture if you ask me. I would check it out.

Shopping: So far, Georgetown seems to be the spot. It has everything from Free People to Nike to Papersource (stationery geeks will love this spot). I also ventured out to Pentagon City which seems to have almost everything (including a regular Nordstrom), but will most likely not need to make the trip over there again unless I need something specific. Dupont has some great stores as well. Downtown if you want to do some business shopping, and Adams Morgan if you want some vintage. Seems to be that all around DC there are a ton of consignment and second hand store that tailor specifically to high end working attire labels, so if you’re interested in some good bargain finds, I would definitely check those out as well. Pretty much everywhere you go there’s some sort of shopping to be found, which is pretty convenient.

Food: Here, I’m just going to mention some of the places I have gone to for a quick lunch or bite to eat. From a friend’s personal tip, my first stop was Bub & Pop’s. Wow. This. Place. Is. Impressive. I ordered a half order (which was actually quite enormous) of their “Jewish Hoagie” that came with corned beef, roast turkey, brisket, salami, Swiss cheese, spicy mustard, thousand island, and was topped off with coleslaw. Honestly, it was pretty amazing. Overwhelming when first presented to me, but amazing. They also have a fried PB&J… (yea.) Julia’s Empanadas right around the block is also very tasty and they’re open late. Roti Mediterranean is basically like a Mediterranean Chipotle, which is great for a flavorful and quick bite to eat. Alberto’s Pizza has pizza slices bigger than your face and Ice Cream Jubilee has exceptional flavors such as Thai Ice Tea, Cold Brew Coffee, Gin & Tonic, and Mango Habanero. At Jubilee, the flavors constantly change, but I’m assuming they’re also constantly tasty.

Nightlife: I’m going to keep this short since this post has been so long, but DC’s “Art All Night” event was great. Around five different neighborhoods of DC (including Dupont Circle), many galleries were open where you could come on in, enjoy the art, talk to artists and curators, listen to live music, and even create your own art. That was an all around success. For more of the bar scene, almost every neighborhood surrounding us has something going on. U Street is lively, around Dupont is always packed, and I’ve heard Adams Morgan has a great scene as well. Wednesday nights: Madhatter’s $1 beers. Great rooftop bar: Point of View. Open late, a calmer experience: Kramerbooks & Afterwords.

Thanks for reading! And if you’re a sandwich lover, trust me– make that lunch trip to Bub & Pop’s.

Student Blogger: Laurie

My name is Laurie Browne. I am a senior at UC Santa Barbara majoring in Cultural Anthropology, and I will try my best to write interesting and entertaining blogs while here during the fall quarter. My family lives in the DC area, this was one of the main reasons I joined the UCDC program. The fall in DC is also the perfect time (in my opinion) to come to this city as the weather is not such a shocking difference. A little bit chilly on some days but the transition to the cutting cold of winter is softer, and the humidity of the summer has dissipated. Pretty soon the leaves will change colors and you will see many photos from me.

My first week at UCDC was a little bit nerve racking. I hadn’t secured an internship before arriving and by Thursday I was feeling anxious about it. After waiting for four days, on Friday I had secured an internship with my first choice, the World Affairs Council, thanks to our fabulous co-coordinators. It has all been a time to trust the process. The staff here and the other students are more than helpful and I really feel like I’m part of a supportive community, even though I have been kind of sticking to myself this week.

Moving to the city was a bit of a transition because I live in a beachside town where everyone knows everyone. In saying that, Washingtonians are very welcoming. The UCDC Facebook page is also helpful in meeting up with new friends and getting a heads up to different events that your fellow students are attending or organizing. There is so much going on in this city from music, art, grad school fairs, NGO informational nights, even a visit from the Pope. The Facebook page is a great form of communication with your neighbors to find events outside of the UCDC hosted meet and greet and if you need to borrow a corkscrew, computer charger, or if someone has left their laundry in the dryer, it all gets posted!

DC is easy to navigate and this is a safe neighborhood, but please make sure to cross the road safely. DC drivers don’t wait for you to get to the other side. Sometimes they don’t even stop, they just slow down. I saw a woman and her baby navigate between cars crossing the street today. However it is now Monday and I have survived all street crossings. The metro is close by and kind of a fun place to people watch. I encourage people to be brave in the big city and take every opportunity to explore DC. There is so much history here to dive into, the Smithsonian museums are free and amazing, visit the monuments of the mall (also free), the zoo is free, on top of all this DC has an active music and art life. I’m not one for political events but I guess there are some around haha (they are everywhere)!

Guest Blog: Jacob

**We’ve asked our newest staff member, Jacob LaViolet, to briefly introduce himself through a guest post on the blog.**The Capitol at night

Hi everyone! I’m Jacob, Undergraduate Programs Assistant in the College of Letters & Science here at UC Santa Barbara. Prior to moving west and starting with UCSB, I spent three years working for the Center for International Policy in Washington, D.C., first as the office manager/intern coordinator, and later as the social media coordinator.

While not a UC graduate, I still had the opportunity to intern in D.C. through a similar program at my university, and it allowed me to get hands-on experience at an NGO that was invaluable in helping me secure my first job. So, if you’re considering participating in UCDC but are on the fence, I would highly recommend it! The opportunity to live and work in the nation’s capital is an experience different from any other and will provide you with countless learning opportunities. It can be a great stepping stone from transitioning out of life at the university and into life in the workforce. You will have the chance to network, explore and learn with an incredibly diverse and talented group of people, and the opportunities for advancement in D.C. are endless.

Regardless of which quarter you decide to go to D.C., you will find no shortage of things to do or people to do them with. Whether you’re exploring the Smithsonian museums, the monuments or D.C.’s many delicious food spots, there really is something for everyone in this incredible city.

Please don’t hesitate to drop by the UCDC office in North Hall 2110 to discuss any questions you might have about UCDC, internships or life in the capital – my door is always open!

Chuckin’ Up Them Deuces

The time has come to pack my bags and head back to what I figured would be the best weather in the country, thank you Pineapple Express Storm, you’re really killing the vibe. This week I broke a heel at work as well as found my god given talent: packing. I’m not kidding I managed to pack an entire Tempurpedic mattress topper in the bottom half of a suitcase. Considering putting it as a skill on my resume, that’s how impressive it was. And while on the topic of packing some advice for incoming students to UCDC, especially those from Santa Barbara:

  • You do not need crop tops. It is far too cold and people will stare at you as if you were an alien.
  • Pack rain boots and an umbrella. And when the forecast says it’s going to rain, even if it is just a 10%, you take those rain boots and umbrella to work. I learned this lesson the hard way when I thought a 20% chance of rain was a joke only to walk out of the Hart Senate building at 5pm to torrential downpour. If looking like you just took a shower in a suit is the new cool thing to do, let me tell you, I owned it.
  • Do not jump on the beds out of pure excitement when you first enter your dorm room. Another hard lesson my roommate and I learned when I nearly broke my hip the first day. Okay, I’m slightly exaggerating, but there is a Bed, Bath, & Beyond right off the Galley Place/Chinatown Metro stop on the Red Line that has fairly priced mattress toppers. WORTH IT.
  • Girls: You don’t need what I would consider as “Vegas” or Downtown SB dresses. I brought far too many only to send them home when I realized I would look extremely out of place in the bar scene here. East coast vs. West coast style is very different so head over to J Crew and leave your ripped jeans and Doc Marten’s in California. White House Black Market, Anne Taylor, and Nordy’s are your new best friends when it comes to the ever looming suit hunt. Get it done stat in case you have to get them altered.
  • Bring pictures. There were so many times throughout the quarter when I would feel a little homesick that I was thankful to have pictures of my best friends and family covering my room.
  • A correction to one of my previous posts: Ethernet cords are no better than the Wi-Fi itself. Accept the fact that the UCDC internet is a troll now and you’ll be less likely to be disappointed upon your arrival. But don’t you fret, there is a Starbucks, book store, and multiple cafes in walking distance so as long as it’s not snowing (god speed winter term students), you’ll be fine.

The UCDC center is in the middle of DuPont, the nicest neighborhood you may ever live in. The distance it is from just about anything is extremely convenient. And for my last demands: Go to the US Botanical Gardens right in front of the Capitol and next to the Smithsonian American Indian Museum. It’s hands down one of my favorite places in DC. AND go to Bub and Pops and get the Fried PB&J. If you don’t I’ll be personally offended, that’s how good it is.

And now for my final farewell! UCDC has opened doors for me that I never thought were possible. Coming here I thought my life was going in one direction, but it turns out that just because you think you’re meant to be one thing, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s what you’re supposed to do. UCDC taught me to explore options, take every opportunity with full enthusiasm, and expand on whatever you already thought you knew. If you come to DC with a closed mind thinking that whatever your parents engrained in your head growing up or whatever you friends told you to think is right is the universal truth, you are setting yourself up for a hard time. Being an open listener in a city with opinions and public policies and draws between party lines flying at you from all angles is not an easy task, but it is an important part of what I’ve learned here. The class I took, Washington Media, was taught by one of the most enthusiastic and passionate professors I have ever had the honor to take a class from. Not going to lie, I shed a tear on my final commute to work this morning. I’ll miss DC, but I’m beyond excited to get back to IV for my senior year and to move in to my ocean side home with 13 of the best gals I know. DC has definitely made me more of a “yes man” and to all that travel to study here at UCDC in the future I hope it has the same effect on you that it has had on me. Peace out for now DC, you’ll be seeing me in the future!


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