Thursday, October 13, 2016

What do you do when your dream comes true?

You find a new dream.

“Where’s Daina?” was the motto of my 8th grade field trip to Washington DC. I was mesmerized during my first trip to the city; there was so much to see and I was constantly left behind while taking pictures. I had been enthralled with US history for a while (due to some incredible history teachers) and I had longed to be at the epicenter of it all. During my first day I decided I wanted to make DC my future home. The next time I visited I was with my family and designated myself the acting tour guide, constantly trying to pull off being a ‘Washingtonian’.  Since then, whenever someone asked me what my favorite city was or where I wanted to live, I immediately answered “Washington DC”. Being able to live in DC for the past month and a half has been a dream come true. The transition into the city was smoother than I could have imagined (thanks to the WAIP program). Having achieved my dream of living and working in the city, I’ve decided to set my sights on a new dream: law school. I’ve wanted to pursue law for a while, and being in this city has affirmed my desire to return here for law school. Luther Vangross says it best.  

Friday, October 7, 2016

Active Civility in the Age of Hyperpartisanship

Active Civility in the Age of Hyperpartisanship
Morgan A. Johnson

I am observing some amazing things about DC. The pace, the intellect, the food, the fun--the list goes on and on. But the one thing I have to say has shocked me about this city is the level to which folks learn to have civility and active discussions rather than come to a partisan halt. You would think that because this is the heart of fast-paced politicking that this would not be the case. But I marvel the discussions that I have witnessed or been a part of. I really enjoy getting to hear perspectives, and hearing those perspectives challenged and supported by information, clear discussion of values and principles, and consideration of outside perspectives and needs. I am learning to be a more bipartisan and politically diverse person from my colleagues at OMB, mentors, and even my friends here at the residence. I spend a great amount of my time with Avery Pierson (check out our squad pic above-mixtape dropping soon) who is politically my opposite. But she and I have the healthiest respect for service, participation, and the improvement of life in Ohio and in America. We also enjoy a lot of the same things outside of that. It takes me back to when Senator Glenn reflected on his experience in the senate to my Freshman class at the Glenn College and PSL. He told us about dinners that the speakers and presidents of the senate would have, and how they mandated a bipartisan seating arrangement. It seems so simple a thing to do, and yet it made a difference. Having an active, conscious and engaged approach to bipartisanship means all the difference. If I didn't try, I would be missing out on a friend for the trip, and probably a friend for a lifetime. I'm so glad that WAIP has given me the chance to reach across the aisle and outside of my comfort zone.

Connecting By Connecting

By Chris Delaney

This is the tale of one very stubborn little jigsaw puzzle and the group effort it took to get it all done.  (Don't worry, it's relevant.)

My supervisor at the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, Gail Johnson and I, decided at the beginning of my internship in September to continue the tradition of the Puzzle Challenge.  By tradition, I mean that it's been going on since about... July.  But the interns that brought it into fruition left quite the puzzle-solving legacy behind, and I was hooked.

Well, this is where we started.

This was a week later.

At this point, it was still just Gail and I, and she wondered whether we'd finish the puzzle at all before I left at the beginning of December.  This unassuming puzzle of a batch of cupcakes had been nothing but pure evil.  Or, at the very least, for the Justice Department there was very little justice being served here.  Strong language for a jigsaw puzzle, but these were trying times at the Civil Division.

Turns out, the key wasn't some secret wushu jigsaw puzzle strategy that let us finish it in 5 minutes. Although I guess it could have been.  But for us newcomers there was a much simpler way to put it all together: bring in more of us!  All I had to do was look around, strike up a conversation with some of the great people working around me here and there, and boom.  The puzzling coalition was taking shape.  Soon enough, there were four of us working on it - as far as we know.  More than once I arrived at my office (dubbed "The Nest" by Gail, it's been home to her interns at the Civil Division since 2000) in the morning, only to find here and there a few more pieces put together than I remembered when I had left the previous day.  I hadn't realized it when we started the puzzle, but this was one very clever, stress-free way to make connections with some of the great people around me.  It's no surprise, then, that as of this past Wednesday it looks like this:

All done!  Look at all those beautiful cupcakes!  They look delicious, you have to admit.  The only downside is we couldn't eat them.  I was far from the only person in the office to comment on this unfortunate circumstance.

All taken care of.

The next day, to celebrate, Gail came into the office with a large bag of... something.  Puzzled (ugh), I figured I'd let her explain.  And so a couple minutes later, I found out.  No, nothing suspicious. Cupcakes!  Everyone was free to come for coffee and as many cupcakes as they wanted.  Based on the success of this midday Thursday celebration, I think we may have a few more contributors to our jigsaw puzzle network going forward.  

Makes me think, maybe everyone should network this way!

It can be easy to forget how large of an impact Washington D.C. has on our home towns. Back home it feels distant, and while we know that the political decisions our leaders make are important, it doesn't necessarily feel personal. However, living in D.C has afforded me the opportunity to see where issues of importance to the local community, and the federal government intersect. Over the past summer, I had interned with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and was able to focus on many policy issues relevant to the community. One of the projects I had worked on was helping to organize a D.C. mission trip consisting of leaders from the Jewish, African-American, and Latino community, to discuss with elected officials the needs of our communities. Had I remained in Ohio, I would not have been able to see that work come to fruition. A number of legislators made an appearance at the event, including Congresspeople Jim Clyburn, Marcia Fudge, Tim Ryan, and Senator Sherrod Brown. They all spoke on one of the major topics of the mission, voting rights. It was interesting to learn both their different opinions on how to solve the issue, as well as getting to see their different speaking styles.  In the end, I'm glad I had the opportunity to see my work fulfilled, and to witness the dialogue between federal and local leaders.

-Nadav Pecha

My favorite thing is...

Over the course of the past month and a half that I have been interning in DC, I have had the opportunity to experience so many things that I never would have thought of. We have done everything from seeing the declaration of independence to watching the president leave in Marine 1 from the south lawn. There have been so many great things about simply living in DC that have nothing to do with our internship experiences. Although I have loved every study tour we have gone on and all the sights we have seen, I think that my favorite part about living here is being able to walk around the capital whenever I want to. No matter what time it is, the Capital never looks any less impressive. I have also found that it is my favorite form of stress relief. Whenever I have a tough day or have a lot on my mind, I just take a walk down to the capital reflection pool and around the mall. In my opinion, just remembering the history and all the hard work that I have done to be able to get this opportunity makes all the other stresses melt away. There is also no better sight in DC than from the mall looking at the Capital and the reflecting pool below it.

A time for Reflection

As I sit here on this Friday evening, I am thinking to myself how lucky and grateful I am to be interning in DC. The opportunities and experiences I have had because of WAIP have been nothing short of amazing. We have gone on many neat study tours such as, the Pentagon, Mount Vernon, U.S. Capitol, and many more. I have to say though, the best study tour we went on thus far, was the White House study tour we went on today. Having the opportunity to go inside and the tour the White House is cool as it is. However, our tour of the White House today was much more than a normal tour. When we arrived at the White House, we walked to the South Lawn to take some pictures. While there, we heard someone say “we have a surprise for you guys”. They told us that President Obama will be boarding Marine One in about ten minutes. When we heard that, we were all very surprised and ecstatic that we were able to witness President Obama boarding Marine One. After we saw President Obama board Marine One, we proceeded into the White House to begin our tour. After we finished our official tour of the White House, we had the opportunity to go Bowling in the White House (Thanks Morgan)! When we walked into the bowling alley, we took pictures of it and then talked with some OSU alumni that work there. After we finished talking, they asked if we wanted to bowl. Without hesitation, we all said yes. It’s safe to say today was the best day of my internship experience thus far! If anyone is thinking of doing WAIP, you should totally do it. You will have so many great opportunities and do stuff that you would never dream of doing. I know for me personally, choosing to participate in this program has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life so far.

Zack Schultz

Realities of Living Far Away from Family

There are a variety of reasons that one can be separated from family. Depending on the situation, the reason may be going to college, being deployed for the military, or accepting a job. In my case, it was accepting an internship position in Washington, D.C. By living far away from home, your perspective on the world changes drastically. Unfortunately, there is a sense of loneliness when you live so far; allowing time to reexamine the true meaning of the term “family.” However, wherever you go, taking the comfort in the knowledge that a part of your family’s spirit will always be with you. Such comforts help you truly understand certain aspects about your family, even being hundreds of miles away from them. My experience has allowed me to come to these realizations:

You start thinking independently
You start adapting and making yourself comfortable in new environments. You see yourself as citizen of the world and feel you can survive anywhere without your family. You are independent, bold, and strong wherever you are.

There is a sense of guilt for living so far
If you have an older grandparent, a family member who is struggling with an illness or a sibling dealing with an injury; there is a sense of guilt that you are not there to help take care of them. Also missing exciting events, such as watching your brother’s big touchdown or taking pictures for prom, brings about a sense of guilt for not being able to share those moments with them.   However, your family members want the best for you and understand you can’t be there for everything.

You become left out of family affairs
This includes vacations, birthdays, and anniversaries. Especially, Sunday night dinners when your mom makes your favorite dish. It’s ok to miss the little joys of being with your family when they attend an event or do something without you.

Using any excuse to go see your family
Vacation time becomes a trip home to spend time with your family. Even if it is only a small amount of time, it is still an escape from reality knowing you have to cherish as much time as you can get with them.

Homesick is a real feeling
The feeling of longing to be home with your family may really creep up on you when you least expect it and sometimes there is nothing you can do about it.

You create your own sense of family
Find friends who feel like family. Become a member of a church or an organization that will give you a sense of community. They will take you under their wing and start inviting you to their family affairs. It’s also helpful to have people to rely on in a time of need.

You have an evolving relationship with your family
Somehow when you separate yourself from the other members of your family, your relationship with them evolves and take on a new shape. You appreciate them for the people that they are. You realize your parents are also people with dreams, hopes, fears, and baggage. Your siblings are a different version of themselves than the one you have from the past. Realize these small details and make an effort to get to know them better.

Distance truly does make the heart grow fonder
You miss the support and affection that comforted you when you were with them. You treasure the memories and pleasant moments that you experienced with them. It makes it that much better when you are reunited.  

While some of these realizations came about living a few hours away from home when moving to college, these understandings intensified when attempting to establish yourself in a new and far place. However, no matter how things change and how you change and where you live or where they live, you learn that family that has your back will always have your back. And there is no better feeling on earth than knowing you can count on them.

Athina Lawson
WAIP Autumn 2016 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

I Promise, Being a "Yes" Intern Actually Goes a Long Way

Upon getting accepted into WAIP, I wasn't quite sure of where I would end up interning. As an Office Page in the Ohio Senate and a campaign intern for Rob Portman, it was easy to take the comfortable route and become a Hill intern. However, with the help of Katy, I branched out and say "yes" to trying for a lobbying internship. I applied a few places, but when Katy suggested Nucor's Public Affairs division, a steel company with many technical details that read like another language to me, I decided to just say "yes." I come from a family of manufacturing, but I had no idea what a trade association or trade law was or the difference between hot and cold-rolled steel. I was in over my head, and the experience I had in Columbus didn't quite seem to align. 

Yet, I got hired. Now, a month into interning for the lobbyists of the nation's largest steel producer and recycler, I could not be happier. Most of my experience I've gained thus far has simply been from having an open mind and saying "yes" to challenges. I've looked into trade laws without taking a anything beyond micro-econ or basic Foreign Policy. I've been to Hill meetings on everything from infrastructure to employment to customs regulations. Was I truly prepared for any of these meetings? Absolutely not, but I wrote everything down that each lobbyist and staffer said and asked questions later. Experience now and question later is a common theme I've learned from my bosses. As an intern who's only in this magical city for a semester, say "yes" to the opportunity and analyze the significance r later. Even if its the most boring or confusing meeting ever, attend and take great notes to get some takeaways from everything you can. 

Beyond Capitol Hill, saying "sure", "okay" and "absolutely" has led to conference calls with leaders in steel, amazing fundraisers, a tour of our law firm, meeting CEOs, Chamber of Commerce briefings, Cook Report election updates, meals with Congressmen, trips to Birmingham and Baltimore, and overall an incredibly holistic view of the city. From these meetings, I've met staffers that I've later chatted about Hill careers with over coffee. I've met other lobbyists, strategists and lawyers in the industry that could be potential employers. Most importantly, I've gotten a true taste of what it's like to lobby. As an intern willing to "go" and "do" almost anything, I get experience beyond researching issues and preparing briefing binders. By putting my desk work to the side and gleaning as much as possible in and outside of the office, I've seen what it takes to be a lobbyist in D.C.. Will I work in the steel industry? Maybe, but what I've learned in this internship translates far beyond the manufacturing industry. 

If anything, my experience thus far shines a bright and encompassing light on Katy's advice to WAIPers at orientation: Be a "Yes" Intern. Taking on extra projects, spending a little extra time in the office if an employee needs to get a deliverable out by 7 pm, asking to sit in on that call or that meeting, and simply grabbing your things and heading out when offered the chance to go to a hearing, briefing, ruling, tour, meeting, or fundraiser will pay you back tenfold as an intern. This is a small city that moves quickly with incredible intimidation and as an intern from Ohio, it can seem very exclusive. The quickest way to burst the D.C. bubble is to get your foot in any door you can, and I couldn't fathom an easier way than by simply saying "yes."

So to potential and incoming WAIPers, be willing to say "yes" to almost any opportunity that comes your way: applying, interning, and D.C. on the whole. With a strong work ethic and willingness to go the extra mile, opportunity will be handed to you as a young and aspiring intern: use that to your advantage, and this city is yours. ~Avery Pierson

FMS and the lovely world of military acronyms

I just started my permanent internship this week at Alion Science and Technology which is a US government defense contractor. I work on Foreign Military Sales (FMS), specifically on a contract with the navy selling undersea weapons. I never grew up interested in the military nor do I really know anything about the military. Until now. I just finished my first week at Alion and I’ve already learned so much about the military.
I’ve been doing a lot of training on foreign military sales and security cooperation in general. One of the problems that I’ve encountered is the countless number of acronyms. There’s an acronym for almost EVERYTHING in FMS, between Letters of Request (LORs – not to be confused with a Letter of Recommendation) and Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs), that it’s almost impossible to remember all of them. I was finally able to secure a list of common acronyms and thought that I might be able to figure everything out. Until I started my newest training module. I was reading through and trying to understand everything to the best of my ability when I encountered “LOA”. I read over it and was confident that I had understood until I realized what I was reading didn’t make any sense. Turns out there’s multiple LOAs in the world of defense contracting acronyms. LOA can also stand for Line of Activity. Mind = Blown. I thought I was getting the hang of things until BAM. They throw me a curve ball.
Moral of the story is that you shouldn’t get too comfortable with what you’re doing because there’s always so much that you can be learning. Don’t just go through the motions of WAIP; challenge yourself and always strive to learn something new everyday.

 -Rachel Dailey

Sunday, July 31, 2016

16 Things I Did in DC this Summer

This summer has been a wild roller coaster. While I am ready to sleep for the next two weeks before school begins, I have learned so much that I never would have if not for WAIP. In order to sum up my experience, I thought I would include a list of some of the things I have done this summer:

I have...

1. Written a 20 page paper.
2. Met the Slovenian ambassador
3. Got to witness appropriations in action
4. Had amazing co-interns
5. Survived living 4 girls to a room
6. Didn't go completely broke
7. Met some amazing people that do incredible things in public service
8. Took a photo with a lovely Turkish family that thought I was their cousin
9. Covered every inch of the National Gallery
10. Drank 100+ lattes
11. Found out that I love weeding
12. Found out that I don't love swamps
13. Thought 88 degrees and overcast was good weather.
14. Learned what public affairs was
15. Saw the Obama motorcade
16. Grew to love DC enough that I am sad to say goodbye.

Peace out DC,