Student Blog: Interning at the Canadian Embassy
by Cyle Petersen '10
After the first two weeks here in Washington, I didn't think it was possible to get any busier ... boy was I wrong. Week three left me with only minutes each day to sit and relax. This week I had a two hour lecture, two Congressional hearings to cover, a two hour morning seminar, a small group meeting at a local law firm, an all-day law school forum, a mid-term and a 30 minute group presentation to stuff into my schedule on top of my full-time internship and class schedule. I am so relieved to have a more relaxed week ahead of me. But, first let me tell you about the busy week that just passed...
Monday morning was pretty typical, getting up around 6:30 in the morning to get ready for work and commute. The day at work was also pretty normal, no outstanding events or projects on my plate. I did, however, have a project to finish from the week before. I have been updating our Congressional database with each Senator and Representative's view or stance on the "Buy America" provisions in the stimulus package. This issue is of special importance to the Canadian Embassy because the Government of Canada believes that the American stimulus bill promotes protectionism and breaks bi-lateral free trade agreements between the two nations. The issue is largely split down the middle in the eyes of Congress, with more Republicans opposing the "Buy America" language and more Democrats supporting it, in large part due to their connections with labor
unions. Anyways, it is a very big job because I have to input every letter, meeting, statement, phone call, and any other form of communication members of Congress have had about the issue. I did manage to finish this project right before the day was done, so I was looking forward to a new project the next day. I got to the red line on the Metro, which is what I usually take to and from work. I finally got on the train after a longer-than-usual delay and proceeded to get stopped in the tunnels every 10 seconds or so. I could hear the driver making announcements but because we were in the tunnel, it was impossible to make out the words. I finally got back to Georgetown with only a few minutes to spare before class so I headed straight down to the classroom. I found out about half way through class that the reason for my slow commute was because of the big Metro accident that I'm sure everyone knows about. I was on the metro at the
exact same time of the crash except I was about 4 stops away. Kind of scary, but I made it home safe so it was okay. Once class ended at 9PM I quickly made something to eat and then went across the hallway to study with a group for our mid-term on Wednesday.
After getting to bed at about 1:30AM when we finished studying, I was forced to get up at about 6:15 so that I could beat the rush hour traffic on the red line, which was now moving quite a bit slower than usual. I made it to work with about 15 minutes to spare so I opened up my notebook and studied for a few extra minutes. Tuesday began with an unexpected load of information to add to my project that I thought I had finished. I don't mind having tedious, repetitive work like this sometimes because I would rather be busy working away on something than sitting at my desk with nothing to do like some of the other interns. I stayed in at lunch hour so I could continue studying for my midterm since the short breaks in between my busy schedule give me about the only studying time I can muster. Commuting back on Tuesday wasn't as stressful because I didn't
have to be back until 7PM, but that didn't mean it was any easier. What usually takes about two minutes to get on a train turned into 15 minutes because the first two trains that parked at the station were absolutely crammed full of people and I couldn't fit. Eventually I made it back to campus and was just happy to be out of congestion. At 7 we had our weekly Judd Lecture Series. This week's speaker was Andrew Natsios, former Director of US AID and special envoy to several African countries. He talked about African development and what the future plan should be. This lecture had the chance of being interesting, but Mr. Natsios was not the most compelling speaker and I found myself zoning in and out of concentration. The lecture finally finished at about 8:30 and I had a lot to do yet- study for my mid-term and work on my group presentation on Thursday. Unfortunately, the rest of the night did not go according to plan
and my fatigue caught up to me- I crashed as soon as I touched my bed. I guess the rest of my studying could wait.
Wednesday was a pretty busy day, especially in the morning. I got to work early to work on my group presentation and then once everyone in the department arrived we had a staff meeting. The staff meeting wasn't very long because no one had much news for the group. The department administrative assistant is now in her last week of work so we had already planned to go out for lunch to say good-bye. We left for lunch at noon and didn't get back till about 3PM. That was fine with me haha. When we got back everyone else was busy catching up themselves, so no one really had much time to think of work for me. Again, I wasn't complaining because I used the time to study one last time before my mid-term that night. After much stress about the mid-term, it ended up not being that bad and I was done in about 45 minutes. Unfortunately,
we still had two hours of class to sit through after we completed the mid-term. Class ended and I still had to meet with my group to work on our presentation since we were the first group due to present on Thursday. Finally, at about 10 o'clock I was finally back in my room and ready for bed.
Our weekly seminar on Thursday morning was on networking as a tool to help find jobs. It was useful, but somewhat repetitive and common sensical. The seminar finished at 10AM and I got to work about 10:40, just in time to check my e-mail and then report to my boss' office for a one-on-one meeting. My boss is a little bit intimidating, but very nice so it wasn't overly stressful. Once again, I had more communication to add to my ongoing database before I had to leave at about 1PM to get to The Hill for the House Science and Technology committee hearing on cybersecurity. After standing in various lines, I finally got to the right door in what is a massive office building. The meeting started and went for about 10 minutes until the buzzer rang for all Representatives to report to the Capital Building for floor votes. The meeting was put on recess
for several hours and I couldn't sit there all afternoon so I just cut my losses and headed back to the Embassy. I was somewhat disappointed because this was going to be my first hearing I was responsible for writing a report up on and I had already put in an hour or two doing research on the topic ahead of time. I guess these are the things you get used to after working in Washington and on Capitol Hill. I headed back to Georgetown to get my final notes ready for my portion of our group presentation. The presentation went smoothly and I was so relieved to be done my mid-term and my presentation while other groups will have to wait to do their presentations until the end of July and various weeks in between. Since I didn't have work the next day I actually had some free time and hung out with some of my friends that I have met here thus far.
Friday morning I had class at 9AM. Now, I am used to going to class tired or not in the best of shape, but doing so in a 3 hour class is a whole different story. It didn't make it any better that I had to get dressed up in business attire before class because I had a small group meeting at an international law firm right after class. Once class ended at noon I proceeded to walk to the law firm, even though our directions told us to take a bus. It was a pretty straight forward walk, but it was really hot out so that might have been a mistake. We got to the law firm and the lawyer that was meeting with us had pizza ordered and brought drinks for us. He talked about his experiences and his path to his current job at this law firm. He gave us some helpful insights into how we should approach our career aspirations and really made me think about what I
actually wanted to do after I graduate next year. The meeting lasted about an hour and then the small group walked back to Georgetown. Although I was tired, I was meeting another of the interns from the Embassy and her friends for happy hour at 5 so I didn't bother taking a nap. Friday ended up being a petty long night, which didn't set me up well for Saturday morning...
My friend across the hall and I had pre-registered for a law school forum in the city a few weeks ago because we both wanted to go talk to some school representatives and there were over 175 schools being represented at this event. I focused most of my time going to the law schools that I knew had dual degree programs with Canadian law schools. It ended up being very helpful because I got a lot of information about these programs that I wouldn't have gotten online. As tired as I was, I was really glad I went to the forum. It was nap time when I got back! That concludes the major events of the past week, but don't worry, there will be plenty more next week, starting with a briefing at the Federal Reserve on Monday morning! I'll let you know how that went in my next entry...