I hate to jump right into the clichés here, but there’s a reason why it’s called Best Semester. My semester in Washington (the fall of 2008) was easily the best semester of my college career. I’m sure you’ve been hit over the head with the reasons a thousand times now (by alums, WJC staff, that fancy brochure, your professors), but I’m going to reiterate three reasons why WJC will be your best semester.
First off, DC is an amazing city. I had the privilege of being there during the historic 2008 election. And, thankfully, the guy I voted for won, making it even better. But that doesn’t mean that just because you’re there in the spring of 2010 means it isn’t going to live up. You need to go out there and explore. Get lost. Use the buses and the Metro. Meet some locals. Eat at weird restaurants. Take a cheap bus trip to Boston, New York, Philadelphia. Where I come from (Texas), the cities and states aren’t so close to each other. Take advantage of the east coast and its compactness. Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. That’s for when you go back home.
Second, the people you meet at WJC will be your friends for life. It may sound lame, but it’s totally true. I miss the people I met there every day. Going in, I was nervous that the other WJCers would be cool, but not anyone that I would truly connect with. Trust me, the others are feeling the same. Never again are you going to live with people the same age as you who have the same career interests.
When I say these are going to be lifetime friends, I mean it. It’s been over a year since I left, but I’m going to two weddings this summer of people that I met there. I loved DC and the experiences I had in that city, but it totally would not have been the same had I not been there with Anna, Tiffany, Jeff, Elizabeth, Ashley, Chris, Mitzi, Kendall, Rose, Emily and Luke. (If I didn’t mention you, that’s because you’re not a member of the Facebook group. So…uh…join it.)
Finally, your internship is going to rock. Also, it’s going to suck. There were weeks when I felt like I was on top of the world, kicking media butt and taking names. Other weeks, several of us would go out on Thursday night, happy to see the internship week done. I interned with Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, a PBS television show. Throughout my few months there, I made some amazing contacts, even better friends and got to do and see some stuff that was seriously awesome. But at other times, I would literally spend the entire day staring at slate.com. Just understand that wherever you intern, it’s a real workplace. Sometimes, your boss may not have time for you. And no two internships are alike. My friend Ashley got published in USA Today. My friend Emily got to see Denzel Washington at some press conference. But there’s no use comparing yourself to the other internships.
I can tell you one thing. I got the job I have today (at a small ABC affiliate in Texas) because of that internship. It looks seriously impressive when you have an editor in DC as one of your references. So, in short, explore and take risks, make great friends and don’t sweat the bad days at your internship. And skip that barbecue place down the street. It’s better in Texas.