I have the luxury of being up at midnight the morning of what should be a work day because Friday is not, in fact, a work day for me. Unless you consider meeting up with coworkers at noon for bowling and frivolity hard work, in which case tomorrow’s going to be a real slog.
Wednesday was my first day on the job, although it wasn’t indicative of what a typical day will be. The Chamber was having an all staff meeting in large part because they are transitioning to a new chair. I arrived at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters around nine a.m. after successfully navigating the Metro during the morning rush hour (though I did display my alarmingly poor directional skills once more by essentially walking a circle upon exiting the station). I got my official badge and then met up with the director of the branch of the Chamber I will be working with, called TradeRoots.
She took me to the staff meeting, which was a neat chance to see most of the Chamber staff assembled in one place. I also got to hear the outgoing and incoming chairs speak, which helped me get an idea of the Chamber’s advocacies and positions. Afterward there was a reception complete with cookies and various other snacks – apparently the old college standby of using food to lure people to events works in the corporate world too.
After going to lunch with a couple of the office staff members, I was driven to the offices for TradeRoots – apparently the Chamber is undergoing some renovations, which have moved my office out to a townhouse near the Capitol. It’s a little odd to be working in a literal house (replete with front and backyards, kitchen, etc.) but it’s nice that it’s so small, since it will be easy to know everyone there. It’s also within walking distance of the Aspin apartments.
I also found out I am actually getting paid for this internship – the hearty sum of six dollars a day. Apparently that is intended to cover my Metro costs since if TradeRoots was in its original offices, I would be using the Metro every day to get to the Chamber headquarters. But, since most days I will only need to walk to work, looks like I’ll make a small profit – just enough for beer money (mom and dad, look away).
Today (Thursday) was our first day of real class. The course we are taking is Congress and Foreign Policy. It’s interesting subject matter, since often our discussions will address specific members of Congress, under some of whom other Aspin interns are working. It’s a neat way to make the coursework especially relevant.
After class a group of us decided to hit some museums on the National Mall. We first went to the Air and Space Museum, which was relatively close, but the Washington DC heat is just brutal. I know I’ve said it before and I will absolutely say it again – it is freaking hot here. The first burst of air conditioning inside the museum felt like the breath of life.
The museum itself was good, although the “Air” aspect wasn’t quite my cup of tea – I don’t normally care for flight museums because I’m not very interested in machinery or technical explanations. I much prefer looking at or reading about old things (really, I’m pretty easy to please). However I really enjoyed the Space aspect; they had a really awesome exhibit on the Apollo missions (old things!) and a beautiful gallery of photos from space.
Next we went to the National Archives – I didn’t realize this was where documents like the Declaration of Independence were held; I had just thought they were in the Museum of American History. When we first arrived we were a little dismayed to see a line stretching outside the entrance just to get in, but it moved quickly enough. We poked around the other exhibits a bit (and were a bit startled to just happen upon the original copy of the Emancipation Proclamation – it seemed like it should have gotten a little more fanfare, but maybe I just like old parchments too much) but we were pretty singularly focused on seeing the big three – the Declaration, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights (old things!)
Those documents were housed in a special chamber with a long queue of people waiting to get in – they controlled the entry so people wouldn’t get quite so bunched up. The line didn’t take too long, and I really enjoyed looking at the documents – there’s just something I love about original documents from different time periods. They’re just such a window into the past, and seeing the original documents themselves makes you think about the individuals who wrote it more as real people than as vague historical figures – looking at the signatures on the Declaration, you realize these were real people making an impossibly bold stand.
The woman who is my intern coordinator isn’t going to be in tomorrow morning, and the entire international division of the Chamber is off for a “staff retreat” tomorrow (the aforementioned bowling) so I am just going to meet up with the staff members at bowling tomorrow. It’s an odd way to start my internship, since I still don’t really have a feel for what I will be doing, but I’m just happy to be here, really.
And here are some miscellaneous pictures: