So I ran into some interns tonight as I was expecting, being that it was Georgetown on a Saturday night. After living in DC for five years now, I expected some stereotypical intern antics, but this was just too funny to pass up. I ran into about five interns wearing the red badge of pride (mind you this is a Saturday night after midnight, obviously they didn't come straight from a work event). One of the guys walking towards the bar was obviously the top dog of the group (wearing a tucked in blue and white striped polo shirt, popped collar surrounded by croakies, along with white Sperrys, yellow shorts. and a backwards hat from a prominent Southern state school), and bumped me out of my place at the bar to get a round of drinks, after I was in line for about 10 minutes with my friends. I then listened in to his conversation with his fellow interns as follows:
Intern 1: Dude, I'm so pumped about this Supreme Court nomination thing.
Intern 2: I know, I can't wait to get involved with the research and interviews for her background check.
Intern 1: I know right? I mean, I know [coordinator's name] hasn't asked us for help yet, but I'm thinking he'll realize soon how much of an asset our investigative skills will be towards Congrssman X's vote.
Intern 2: I know man, they wouldn't have hired us if we weren't qualified for something like this, they must have known this was coming beforehand.
Intern 1: This is awesome, who else at school can say they got to be a part of something like this? I've already read her wikipedia page like 10 times, I'm so ready man.
(I couldn't hold it in anymore and then started to outwardly laugh out loud, and the alpha male facing me confronted me)
Intern 1: Hey brah, what are you laughing at?
Me: Sorry, I couldn't help it.
Intern: Listen man, we're really important people here having our own conversation. Butt out dude.
Me: (Smiling ear-to-ear) No problem buddy. Enjoy your night.
Intern: Listen, you are obviously drunk (I hadn't gotten a drink yet since I just got there) and don't know anything about the Hill. We are going into the office tomorrow to work on this nonstop because our opinion is in high demand, only the cream of the crop get to work in our office and obviously they'll want to know where we stand on such an important issue. Just mind your own business and let me and my colleagues get our drinks so we can get home.
I was at first shocked into a look of bewilderment for a split second or two the obviously underaged kid's rudeness, but I then went on to tell him that not only had I worked in that Congressman's office as an intern during my freshman spring semester, but interned alongside his coordinator who just so happened to be a good friend of mine from our days in undergrad, and that I would make sure to pass along how hard his interns were willing to work tomorrow on their extremely important project after a hard night of drinking in Georgetown due to their intense dedication. I then also reminded him that only the Senate will be voting on the confirmation, so I was surprised that [coordinator's name] would need his interns in on a Sunday for background checks and interviews.
The intern then blushed pretty substantially, turned around, and stammered back to his other colleagues. All five of them then filed out the stairs to the front door to leave in disgust. I felt bad that I burst his bubble, but I guess they still don't understand that DC residents all know that Hill interns only open mail and answer phones yet.
As a former Hill intern, I have had my share of run-ins with arrogant interns who think that they are important. One specific intern, however, amazed me with his complete detachment from reality regarding his importance and skills as a Senate intern. For one, he always made sure to correct anyone who referred to him as an "intern." Upon meeting him, I made this mistake and was swiftly corrected: "Actually, I'm the fellow for Senator ___'s Office. I get paid a stipend and I don't have to do any of the menial intern tasks." Against my better judgment, I continued to talk to the "fellow," only to discover that he was even more self-important than I first imagined. He told me about how he had just ordered 500 business cards with his name and the Senate seal (which he had to pay for since, while he may disagree, he was not paid staff). We then began to discuss our plans after college graduation.
Me: So do you want to come back and work on the Hill after graduation? Fellow (read: Intern): Hopefully I'm going to work for whoever takes Senator Burris' seat in 2010. Me: (Knowing that the intern works for a Southern Senator) That's interesting. Why Illinois? Fellow: Well since it will be a new Senator, I'll have a better chance at getting hired. Me: Okay, so you want to be a staff assistant or LC or something? Fellow: (as serious as could be) No, Foreign Affairs LA.
The hubris (or stupidity) of this intern left me with my jaw on the floor. However, in a most satisfying moment of karma, the last time I saw this "fellow," he was answering phone calls in his Senator's front office, surely enjoying the menial tasks of an intern.
My friends and I were out on a Saturday night in Dupont minding our own business and an obviously underage guy with a button-down shirt (only the top one snapped) comes up and tries to hit on my friends. When she inquired as to why he would only button the top, he busted open the shirt, flaunting his scrawny chest. He runs back to his cohort of underage friends and exclaims, "Oh my god I just flashed them with my nipples!" He then proceeds to go around to every girl in the bar and do the same thing.
In the most sarcastic voice possible, we told him how funny he was and asked where he was interning. By the end of the night, the kid got beer poured on his head. [Private-sector firm] would be proud.
As a current Senate intern I really enjoy reading this blog, as I guess it keeps me in line and reminds me not to act stupid. I will, however, add a story of my own hubris.
I was interning for the house two years ago, and I was helping staff a political event my boss was holding. A very well known and famous Senator, from a very well known and famous political family was speaking at this event. His speech was phenomenal and as he was leaving the stage, my Chief of Staff said that I should go up and shake his hand. I was excited that the Chief of Staff was okay with this and went off to see I could meet the Senator. Unfortunately, I wasn't thinking about how actively I was pursuing him as went into the hall, as I shouted that I was a huge fan of his and was going to college in his state. He was gracious enough to pose for a picture, and even asked if I wanted a job, but from that day on, the staff enjoyed telling the story of how I nearly "tackled" Sen. Ted Kennedy.
I'm a former hill intern... I would like to think I was one of the better ones. I am respectful, although I did ask quite a few stupid questions.
To staffers: even the interns with some brains ask dumb questions.
To all of the interns out there: you're there to do the work the staff either doesn't want to do, doesn't have time to do, or if you're *really* good: some basic work they think you might find interesting. That's your purpose. It's what you signed up for. If you're polite and hard working, (most) staffers will love you for just doing your job right.
This summer I am lucky enough to be one of the few paid interns in the entire city... I get a very modest stipend, but it's pay, so there's no way in HELL I would ever complain about any assignments I get...ever.
Anyway, I and one of my fellow interns, were recently invited by our intern coordinator to attend a cocktail reception at an embassy. This is a major honor of course, and I was thrilled. My fellow intern later retorted to me something to the effect of: "Don't you think we should be getting overtime or time off for going to this thing?"
Dude, you're working in an office with a great staff, a stipend, and you just got invited to a cocktail reception at an embassy. Take a reality check.
In the summer of 2005, I was interning on the hill as part of a summer program. One of my fellow interns, who didn't quite understand when to keep his mouth shut, was working for Republican and happened to stumble across a (then) Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi talking to a group of reporters.
Our hero then proceeded to join the group, and proceeded to ask Ms. Pelosi a leading question on energy policy. Suspicious, Ms. Pelosi asked him who he worked for. Without missing a beat, he said "I work for ______". Oops. I guess he had missed the day when they told the interns not to harass the leadership of the opposing party.
The rest of the interns found out the details of this story the next day in "Heard on the Hill."
As a post-script to this story, one of my fellow interns ran into him a few years later, and found that he had the Roll Call story framed on his desk at work.
Earlier this week, I introduced a new intern to the head of our office. Their conversation went like this:
Office Chief: Welcome to DC. We're glad to have you here. What school do you go to? Intern: [insert southern school] Office Chief: Good school. And you're studying.....? Intern: Yeah, omigod, like all the time.
One of my interns from last summer was sitting in on a meeting, taking notes. At one point during the meeting he folded up his notebook and left the room. We were a little nonplussed at first, but assumed he was using the men's room or something. Nope, turns out that 4pm had rolled around and he was done for the day!
This blog is dedicated to those DC residents who eagerly await (or completely dread) Intern Season. Essential to the function of offices in DC, interns are willing to complete tasks that are often considered undesirable. For many interns, this blog will not apply. For those interns to whom it does apply, we hope that you use these anecdotes to change your behavior and, eventually, change the stigma attached to DC interns.
*PLEASE NOTE: As with the viral nature of the Internet, many offices are concerned about anonymity and poor reflections upon them - please be assured that no office or individual will ever be singled out. This blog operates under complete anonymity and will never be of a libelous nature; it will never post any identifying information including, but not limited to: place of work or residence, name, or congressional office. We welcome you to submit any absurd intern stories you are bound to acquire. TWITTER EXCEPTION: we assume you give us permission to re-tweet any submissions you send our way via your public Twitter account.
To the interns: please use this blog as a learning tool. Godspeed and best of luck this summer. firstname.lastname@example.org