Now that I have completed half of my internship at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), I have a lot to reflect upon. From the lessons I’ve learned to the friends I’ve made, I know that I have already gained so much from this experience. I can’t believe it’s almost coming to an end!
When I first came to DC I was scared. The city was so huge and overwhelming, and I knew next to no one. Unlike when I began Brandeis, no one was here to show me the way. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore and even to play tour guide to others. When my family visited me, they were impressed with my knowledge of this city, which at first glance on a map looks like a maze. I have my favorite restaurants and boutiques, and the places where I love to stroll (like Rock Creek Park: http://www.nps.gov/rocr/index.htm). I know the shortcuts and the scenic routes. At school, my life revolves around happenings on campus, and my focus seems far narrower; however, living in the middle of the city has allowed me the opportunity to get to know Washington far more intimately. Now, this place feels like my home.
Working at AEI has also become less overwhelming. The interns have really bonded and I’ve made friends that I hope to keep in touch with when we all leave this town. My co-workers are also less intimidating, perhaps as a result of our shared experience of waiting in the lunch line each day. AEI is known for its stellar kitchen, and everyone, including interns, guests, and staff, lines up at noon to wait for the amazing food. As a result, the person in front of you striking up a casual conversation may turn out to be an AEI fellow or even a Senator. After finding myself in that position a number of times, I’m ready for anything. I’ve learned that sometimes even a quick chat can be the foundation of a professional relationship, which may be solidified over coffee or a later meeting. The opportunity to interact with these individuals has been a highlight of my summer experience.
One amazing thing about working at AEI is each department’s willingness to help provide the experience interns are looking for. In addition to mastering my ongoing and day-to-day tasks managing various digital platforms, I wanted to learn more hard skills this summer for personal and professional development. After mentioning this goal to the digital strategy team, one of my co-workers took it upon herself to schedule weekly training sessions with me. So far, she has taught me how to use design tools such as Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. I feel as though I now have a good handle on each of these products. I even designed a vector that AEI is using to promote Arthur Brooks’ new book The Conservative Heart. (See more here from AEI’s Instagram account: https://instagram.com/aei/).
Overall, I am immensely enjoying my summer here in DC and at AEI. I know that I am learning valuable skills, meeting important people, and really taking advantage of my opportunities here. I know that none of this would have been possible if not for the WOW Scholarship, and I think about my gratitude for this program every single day. I cannot wait to see what the rest of the summer brings!
Margot Grubert, ’17