In what has been one of the most eventful and swiftly moving semesters of my college career, my final day of work for National Geographic has snuck up fast on me as I write this final blog post. My time in D.C. has been marked with periods of awe, confusion, joy, intense learning, and meaningful conversations, all of which I will remember for a lifetime. It’s hard to concisely sum up my experience for the past four months in such a limited space, but I would like to pick out five key things that I took from my time at NGS; things I learned about the Society and about myself in the process.
It was no easy feat trying to work full time while adjusting to moving to a completely different environment form the rural landscape in which I grew up, and the university town where I have spent the last four years. I was uprooted from the secure and homogenous bubble
of undergraduate life and thrust into a world of bustling neighborhoods
and traffic-choked avenues where people from all walks of life converge
on a daily basis. I found the District to be hot and cold, admirable and aggravating, immaculate and unruly, political and anarchical, rude and polite, and friendly and foreign–all at the same time. The dichotomy of lifestyles within such a dense geographic area is astounding to me!
It took me almost as long as the internship lasted to get used to simply living in my new city environment, and, once I thought I had the hang of things, it was time to leave, sadly. Of course, I did mountains upon mountains of learning along the whole process: learning about being punctual, about working 40 hours a week, where to grab a cheap lunch, how to ask for job tasks, how to complete those tasks, where to find the shortest bike commute route–the list goes on and on. The most important things that I learned, I believe, are the aspects of my job that I did and did not like, specifically in terms of my skills and interests. I will keep the more negative thoughts privy only to me, but they play an equally important role in learning what kind of job to seek out in the future.
Here’s the short list of 5 things I enjoyed the most about my tenure as a Nat Geo Geography Intern:
1)Making some extraordinary friends and professional connections!
I went into this internship not knowing how well I would get along with the nine other fresh faces that I had the pleasure of meeting immediately after I arrived in D.C. Over the course of two months we grew very close, both in the work environment and during our ritual happy hours or special events at various venues. I will miss you guys!
I was lucky to be able to work with a very diverse group of bright young minds: my fellow interns (above) and our supportive supervisors.
Experiencing life in a city (and a “Capital” city at that, pun intended)
I hail from a smallish Virginia city of about 30,000 people, surrounded by bucolic rolling pastures and tree-lined mountain ridges. Coming to live in a city of half-a-million, surrounded by millions of suburbanites, is quite a change, one that took me a while to adjust to. I feel like I will never completely adjust to living in an urban environment, since the urge to get outside to someplace quiet is ever present in me. Nonetheless, it was awe-inspiring to be able to live so close around such famous monuments as the Capitol building and the Kennedy Center.
The White House at dawn, before the UK Prime Minister Welcome ceremony in March.
3)Having the privilege to learn the history behind National Geographic firsthand.
You can read all the books and watch all the documentaries about the founding of the Society in 1888. But to actually be given a live history lesson in the very room where the founding members convened not long after that date is a whole different matter. I was surrounded by photos of famous expeditions from throughout the history of Nat Geo, as well as countless volumes of the esteemed magazine that lined the walls of the Hubbard Hall Dining Room. At the center of the grand staircase to the Board Room above stands a bust of Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the first president of our Society.
4)Being able to attend some exciting events.
In mid-March, we received an invitation to attend the formal welcome ceremony of the Prime Minister of the UK at the White House as President Obama hosted him at the start of his trip to the USA. I could not turn down such a momentous opportunity, one that many of my friends at home were jealous of, and it was all possible through National Geographic, as we had been given a select number of tickets to attend the ceremony.
Our intern group at the White House back in March.
5)Enjoying some wonderful National Geographic Live! events.
For those of you who are not familiar with Nat Geo Live!, it is the public programs division of National Geographic that hosts many famous explorers and other speakers to give live presentations at Grosvenor Auditorium at Nat Geo headquarters in Washington, D.C, as well as at other venues throughout the U.S. and Canada. These events are a true gem for the Society, enabling employees and community members alike the chance to interact with some very well-regarded scientific and artistic figures of our modern times. At one event, I had the opportunity to meet with a famous photojournalist whom I had admired at a distance, but with whom I had never before had the chance to speak. The famous explorer and discoverer of the H.M.S. Titanic, Robert Ballard, spoke at another event in April. I also had the chance to see a exclusive film festival not open to the public.
And there you have it! I hope that you have enjoyed following me throughout these past four months as I learned about popular science writing, blog editing, and finding my foothold in the realm of creativity and geography literature. I’ll see you around!