I’ve spent the last eight weeks as an intern at the Center for American Progress in Washington D.C. I’ve blogged about it here and here. CAP has been wonderful and it’s been a thrilling summer. I’ve seen a lot, learned a lot and spent a lot of time alone, which is both enlightening and depressing.
You see, DC is this incredibly odd place where you are simultaneously given an ego boost and a punch in the gut. You were hired, so you clearly aren’t an idiot, but everyone is so well-read, intelligent and nicely dressed that you just want to crawl up in a ball and forget that you ever even had ambition. My emotions are everywhere. I’ve been making a lot of lists and I’ve started this weird habit of making all of my old word documents into PDFs so I can never go back and change anything. I don’t know why.
I’ve also been watching quite a bit of television, which is why I’m writing this post. Below, I’ve made a list of some shows that have helped me through my internship. The following comedies and dramas* have taught me excellent lessons about how to be an intern in DC, while keeping me from going insane in my teensy tiny dorm room.
Parks and Rec – After re-watching all five seasons of this charming masterpiece, I’m much more motivated. Leslie Knope makes me want to work in government, she inspires me to learn about other fabulous woman and she pushes me to reach for more than I thought I could attain. I seriously want to be her.
The Office - This show has helped me learn what professionalism doesn’t involve. Basically, anything that Michael Scott does, I don’t do. Because that’s what makes a good intern – someone who isn’t Michael Scott. That and some Excel skills.
30 Rock – Liz Lemon has been my closest companion this summer. She’s taught me how to enjoy living alone, because if there’s anything she can do, it’s sport glasses, messy hair and some loose-fitting sweatpants while cramming a whole bunch of food down her gullet. She’s also an awesome feminist – like Leslie – and doesn’t settle. Except for James Marsden. And that’s a-okay with me. Also, I’ve also been reading Tina Fey’s book, which is stupendous, and if you haven’t read it then why?
Scandal – Olivia Pope, man. She’s glorious. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s flawed. And she dresses really, really well. Above all else, I watch Scandal because of Olivia’s silky pants and magnificently structured blazers. When I go to work, I actually put effort into my appearance, which, in turn, makes me seem well-put together. Am I really? Who’s to say?
The West Wing – Obviously The West Wing is included here (and it is THE West Wing. You can’t forget the THE). No one should ever work in DC without seeing it. Seriously, I will force the boxed sets into your anxious interny hands if you dare go without it. However, the problem with The West Wing is that it makes the White House seem like this magical castle of accessible beauty. Like, I could be CJ Cregg if I wanted to. I could debate econ policy with Leo or write an inaugural address with Sam Seaborn. And I would be good at it. Would I really? Yet again, I’m going to go with ‘who’s to say?’
House of Cards – Every time I watch House of Cards, I’m on the edge of my seat. It’s gritty and terrifying. Because it makes me feel I’m a really integral part of the DC whole, when I’m really just an intern. I may try to walk around like Francis Underwood as if I have something super serious to do, but I’m really going to Five Guys to get a bacon cheeseburger.
*Two of these shows have Rob Lowe in common. Oh Rob Lowe.