I am an intern living in GW summer housing. I'm a little older than the average hill intern, and have had a few D.C. internships in the past, so I am familiar with the hilarity of the blog and the pompous hill interns (and staffers alike). Tonight a pipe burst in the basement of my building and the fire alarm went off. All of us living in the dorm had to evacuate at midnight, and everyone, thinking it was a fire, grabbed their room keys and maybe a cell phone before leaving-- except one male intern. What do you think he was sure to bring? Of course, the red badge of courage, securely fastened to his gym shorts. Good thing of ALL your valuables in your apartment that you made sure to grab your precious piece of plastic that defines you as a prick. Wonder if you'll use the hour we were outside in the humidity as an excuse for being late tomorrow, or testy to constituents.
As a former Hilltern, and a current intern for a non-profit organization, I would first like to say that I enjoyed reading this blog last summer, and I am enjoying it once again. I had to laugh this weekend when I was wandering around Eastern Market on Saturday afternoon when I spotted two interns sporting their red badges. It's the weekend, ladies; there is no need for you to be wearing your badges anytime other than Monday through Friday while you're in your office.
I am a midlevel attorney sending this public service announcement in for the female interns, in the hopes that they'll take it as kind advice, not judgment (although failure to follow it will almost certainly result in their being judged by people in a position to hire them).
I went to a policy conference last week. As at most conferences, there were a few interns and students present. All of the male interns/students managed to dress like adults – slacks, button-front, maybe a tie and jacket. Similarly, all of the male professionals were in suits and the women professionals were in suits or cardigans/skirts, with the exception of a few Africans, men and women, who chose to wear their national dress. What were nearly all of the women interns/students wearing? Sundresses, gladiator sandals, chunky wedge sandals, tank tops, all kinds of beach and club wear with nary a jacket or cardigan in sight. Visible bra straps abounded. One young woman wore a leopard-print tank top, multiple earrings and four-inch heels (her male cohort wore a gray suit). A graduate student seated in the row in front of me was dressed reasonably, but she took her shoes off (!!!) and left them off for about an hour (and then proceeded to ask me about job opportunities at my organization).
Ladies, PSA: Do not dress like this at professional events, even if it’s somehow OK in your office or at your university. A sundress is not professional attire, even on Friday. Jersey is not an appropriate fabric for a business dress, even in June. And for the love of God, wear a slip if you must wear jersey or other unlined skirts, because they cling in places no one wants to see. No one should ever, ever see your bra straps, your cleavage or your thighs at a professional event. You need to brush your hair in the morning and your hairstyle should be something more elegant than how you wear it at the gym. Any shoe that can be construed as trendy is not a professional shoe, and if you must wear sandals, make sure they are conservative. And no one wants to see your blisters, calluses or your bare feet, ever, period.
Yes, it's hot out, and yes, it's unfair that it's easy for men to figure out what to wear and hard for us women, and yes, I know that women's dress shoes are uncomfortable. I understand you want people to judge you for your ideas and not your clothes. But your clothes indicate a lack of decorum and professionalism, and until you've paid your dues, once someone sees your clothes they're not going to care about your ideas. Your sundress tells me as much about your judgment as it does about the color of your bra. Since you're presumably attending these events to make connections and maybe even get a job, do yourself a favor and dress like an adult.
I am an intern at an Executive branch department, one of the many departments with segments involved in trying to solve the BP oil spill. Today, our department-wide summer intern email list was set up, so that all approximately 150-200 of us could email each other about events, etc. Well, within a few hours, we all received an email from a fellow intern talking about how horrible the situation is with the oil spill in the Gulf, and how, as the future leaders of our country, we needed to put our heads together to come up with a solution. The intern then proceeded to suggest that we all email the department's Gulf crisis suggestion email account with any suggestions we have, and offered to discuss ideas with anyone who wanted to. I'm pretty sure that if scientists across the government, BP, and others haven't been able to solve this problem yet, interns are not going to magically come up with the solution, even if we "put our heads together." (except for maybe plugging the spill with interns like this one...)
Last week as I was walking to Union Station away from the Hill, a tourist stopped one of the Hill interns sporting his red badge of courage. He looked extremely annoyed. My guess was that he was on his way to happy hour with the five short-skirt, casual Friday girls with him. This woman was asking about what he did, and what to do, and the girls were giggling away as he struggled to keep it together. When she asked how he liked it he politely remarked, "It kinda sucks having to walk people over to the Capitol for ten minutes when I could be doing something else." The poor woman took the hint, a little embarrassed from the pointed peanut gallery.
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