The Capitol Building, Washington, DC

Melanie Francis: Post #1

After counting down the months, weeks, and finally the days until my move to Washington, DC, I can now say that I have safely arrived and have begun to explore this beautiful city and all that it has to offer.

In all honesty, I had very mixed feelings upon beginning my semester at American University. While I was undoubtedly excited about this amazing opportunity that I was being granted, I was also quite a bit nervous and anxious. I knew that this was going to be a very different experience for me for a multitude of reasons. First, I knew this was not going to be like any other study abroad program. Though I do get to travel, explore DC, eat new foods (DC has great ethnic foods!), meet new people and enjoy my time here, this is a program intensely focused to learn in class and outside of class as DC is our entire classroom! I was afraid of not fitting in coming from a small city. I was afraid of not finding an internship since it is very competitive, and I feared missing home because this is my first time away from home.

Group photo of Melanie Francis and her friends

Since arriving in Washington DC a few weeks ago, everything has been a whirlwind. Orientation is now just a memory of blurred faces, nonchalantly peeking at name tags because you instantly forgot their name, a very intense game of rock, paper, scissors, and WSP’s The Amazing Race. While my team, unfortunately, did not win tickets to one of the embassy events being offered, I think that I won something much more valuable that day. I found an amazing group of people that I now continue to explore DC with to this very day. I am forever thankful to have had the opportunity to partake in this competition. For if I had not, I may have never met the people that I now call great friends.

I have officially begun an internship at U.S. Commercial Service a division of the Department of Commerce. The U.S. Commercial Service recognizes that exporting is a critical part of ensuring a healthy future for the U.S. economy and American jobs. They help American businesses get ready for the international market by connecting them with foreign embassies and international businesses, help them train on exporting and provide market research on their goods and their geographic areas of interest. The past two weeks have reaffirmed my passion for the intersection between Politics and Economics/Business. I have mostly been job shadowing, taking notes, going through training and meeting staff. I love the office culture here, all the staff speak more than 2 languages, travel for meetings, are very easy going yet, very professional and they are very passionate about what they do. I am valuing everything I do here as an intern and believe that no task is too small. I am truly looking forward to where this internship will take me with all the new things I learn daily. Mindset! It is all about mindset, about the moments in your day – to be in touch with your thoughts, perceptions, and feelings. Your mindset is your most undervalued asset. This is why I feel like I have had a positive experience with my internship thus far.

And just like that, three weeks have come and gone. In some ways, I can hardly believe that I have been in Washington for five weeks already. Time truly has flown by. At the same time, it feels like I have already done so much during such a short span of time. I have been able to explore Washington, as well as some of Virginia, and take in the experience of standing right in front of a number of sites of so much significance. I am eager to continue my journey exploring DC (and of course sharing the highlights of that adventure with you through these blog posts) in the weeks and months ahead. Stay tuned!

Protest posters on display

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