I never imagined myself wearing a suit and tie. However, my stubborn perception faded once I arrived in Washington D.C. and started interning in the office of one of the nation’s congressional senators.
Other students at the NYU Washington, D.C. global site are met with similar opportunities. If they are not interning for Congress members, they are likely interning or volunteering for some federal or nonprofit organization. The wide availability for these kinds of opportunities is what attracts students to NYUDC in the first place. The site is known for providing insight into U.S. politics, media and society through co-curricular and extracurricular activities with well known companies and organizations.
The few students not interning in the morning mostly attend class at NYUDC’s Constance Milstein and Family Global Academic Center, which is near the White House, the Smithsonian Museum and the D.C.’s 14th Street corridor. The 75,000 square-foot building holds the entire NYUDC campus with classrooms, administrative offices, a library and a 140-seat auditorium. It also houses some faculty members as well as around 120 students every semester.
The McPherson Square Metro station is the nearest subway station from the building. On my way there, I pass by the McPherson Square Park alongside other people clad in formal attire en route to our respective workplaces, a scene reminiscent of “The West Wing.”
The metro stations, with their high, arched ceilings and blinking platform lights, present a distinct contrast to the claustrophobia-inducing subway stations of New York City. Although the District’s metro system is not without its own faults, I feel liberated knowing that I am no longer constricted by a city’s congestion.
As the Capitol Hill is going through a time of distinctive polarizing debate and legislation, my internship office, at times, has transformed into a stressful environment. However, sometimes the strangest of observations are enough to make working on the Capitol Hill bearable even in the most trying moments. Whether it be the amelodic hums of a lone train on the Capitol subway system or the reassurance of being near one of the most influential bodies in the U.S. government, I always search for silver linings when anxious on the Capitol Hill.
Once I finish for the day, I return to NYUDC, where I attend class in one of the classrooms located in the building’s lower levels.
Most of my classes at NYUDC take place in the evening, and all of them have less than 20 students per class, which allows for more personal interactions with professors who also work outside of NYU in fields such as politics and journalism.
One such professor is accomplished media consultant, Tad Devine, who was the chief strategist for Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign in 2016. His class, titled “Campaign Strategy and Media in Domestic & International Campaigns,” delves into the components of campaign successes and failures at the local, national and international level. We are currently tasked with creating our own campaign strategies for possible candidates in future elections either in the U.S. or around the world.
Other courses offered at NYUDC include Journalism Ethics & First Amendment Law, Principles of Financial Accounting and The Meaning of Leadership. The latter class caters to students in the Global Leadership Scholars Program. These students discuss leadership in class and receive advice from Professor Amy Mortimer, a consultant for ICF International, and other classmates on ways to enhance active leadership skills.
While this routine has become the standard for my time in D.C., the weekends provide students with the opportunity to explore the city and its attractions such as the Smithsonian Institution, National Mall and The Wharf, a recently constructed waterfront project highlighting a new entertainment and dining experience in southwest Washington D.C. However, after spending countless hours at internships, attending classes and doing homework, the alternative of sleeping in on weekends has become increasingly attractive.
My D.C. routine is only temporary, and I will soon leave behind the hyper-political culture of Capitol Hill to finish my senior year at NYU in the frenzied day to day of Manhattan living. What one of these cities lacks, the other gives, but both share a common ground as testaments of American life.
Email Juaquin Robles at [email protected]