Cutthroat professional life in Washington, D.C.

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Netflix scored big this year with its new, original TV drama “House of Cards,” depicting life in Washington D.C. Needless to say, the cutthroat nature of life in our nation’s capital takes center stage, as most of the characters will do anything to advance their careers and influence in the city. Yes, it’s fiction, and some of the stories are a bit far-fetched, but a recent book called “This Town” by New York Times Magazine writer Mark Leibovich portrays DC as a craven town where everyone is just focused on getting ahead. You can get some of the story in his latest article titled “How to Win in Washington.”

It’s not that Washington hasn’t forever been populated by high-reaching fireballs. But an economic and information boom in recent years has transformed the city in ways that go well beyond the standard profile of dysfunction. To say that today’s Washington is too partisan and out of touch is to miss a much more important truth — that rather than being hopelessly divided, it is hopelessly interconnected. It misses the degree to which New Media has both democratized the political conversation and accentuated Washington’s myopic, self-loving tendencies. And it misses, most of all, how an operator like Kurt Bardella can land in a culture of beautifully busy people and, by trading on all the self-interest and egomania that knows no political affiliation, rewrite the story of his own life.

So read the entire article and the book and check out the show before you venture off to DC. This way you’ll have some idea of what you’re getting into.

But keep in mind that you’ll be one of many if you venture off there. DC is booming and life there was detailed in an article last year in time called “Bubble of the Potomac.” The author explains how a new affluence is flooding DC and likes to refer to it at über-Washington, working off the name of the popular Uber limousine app that is so popular in the city. This affluence, along with the natural political power base, has helped amplify the competitive climate described above. The article describes some of the realities in the city:

– there are two government contractors for every government worker. Yes, people are getting wealthy on government contracts.

– Washington is filled with young people. That’s always been true but seems even more true today. That culture is definitely affecting the nightlife and the city in general.

– Thursday night wheels up parties at Happy Hour are huge.

– Much of this is fed by the intern culture, which starts with free internships during college, then paid internships or entry-level jobs, and then it goes from there.

For may this will seem exciting. For others not so much. It’s another example of where you need to have your eyes wide open before making a decision.


Finding the Right Internship


An internship is an opportunity for students, and even individual’s that graduated from college years ago, to gain practical experience in any given field. Participating in an internship program is considered the fastest ways to get your foot in the door at today’s top firms—before graduating from college.

While many internships do not offer a salary, a select few do actually pay. Paid internships are typically offered in the technical field, medical, and government, to mane a few. Most unpaid internship programs typically offer course credit upon completion of an internship, but some colleges do not give academic credit for internships. However, these colleges are the exception, not the rule. Internships are either full or part-time and they are typically completed during the summer or during a regular semester.   

Internships are beneficial in several ways. In addition to playing a significant role in your university experience, an internship can help you learn more about your chosen career field or other career fields you might be interested in. An internship can help you:

  • Gain confidence in your abilities
  • Gain valuable experience to include on your resume
  • Learn more about what your future work environment will be like
  • Meet people in the industry and gain invaluable contacts
  • Obtain references that will boost your credibility when applying for other positions

When searching for an internship, you should be just as selective as you would be during your search for a paid full-time position. You should look for opportunities that match your career interests and skills. An internship should also enhance your academic program and work well with your current class schedule. In addition, you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can I afford to work an unpaid internship or do I need a paid internship to help with tuition costs?
  2. Do I want career-related experience or just work experience?
  3. How long is the commute?
  4. How many hours can I afford to work without interfering with my studies?
  5. Would I like the opportunity to travel?

Think about these questions ahead of time, this way you won’t be overwhelmed with too many choices. These questions should help narrow your list of internship opportunities considerably.


When it comes to timing your internship, it is important to understand that employers with the most competitive programs begin the selection process several months before the position will begin and others might begin the process even earlier. In fact, some programs have application deadlines at least a year (or more) in advance. Companies with summer internship programs typically begin looking for summer interns between January and late March. Internships for fall and spring are usually advertised late in the previous semester or very early in the current semester. Most students may intern anytime after their freshman year, but the majority of students intern in their junior or senior year, when they are already well into their major courses. This is a good idea, as the internship will serve as an excellent supplement to major course studies.

Getting Started with your Search for an Internship Program

Once you have decided that an internship program is for you, you should visit your school’s career services office. Your internship coordinator will have a list of current internship opportunities, a list of companies that offered internship opportunities in the past, and lists of students and alumni that have completed internships. These students and alumni are always more than willing to share their experiences with you.

If you attend a smaller college or university and it does not have an internship coordinator, your career services office will still be able to help you. You can also search for internship opportunities on your own by visiting the websites listed below. When applying for internships, it is important to follow the application instructions to the letter. Incomplete applications are usually discarded without further review. It is also important to pay close attention to deadlines. Internship programs rarely accept applications after the deadline.

Top Internship Websites
The Internship Series Online

The Princeton Review

Forbes Top Internships for 2010

Capital Fellows Program
Garmin International
General Electric
J.P. Morgan Investment Bank
Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Smithsonian Institution
Steppenwolf Theater Company


Land an internship to start a career in sports

Many people love sports, and many also would love a career in sports. Of course, few have the physical skills plus necessary dedication to become a pro athlete, but a career in sports business or as a sports agent appeals to many people.

Jack Bechta is a respected sports agent and he’s written an article about how you can use an internship to start a possible career in sports. It’s not easy, however, as these internships are in high demand.

If you want to work in sports, the best way to start is by landing an internship. It’s a productive path: Six interns who worked for me went on to careers in sports.

The problem is that there are too many people chasing too few internships, so it’s tough to get your foot in the door. Like many agents, I get several unsolicited inquiries per week about the possibility of interning at JB Sports. NFL teams, and other pro sports teams, receive hundreds per month. However, I only use about two interns per year, and they’re usually selected a year in advance.

Bechta goes on to suggest seven tips to help you land that internship. Check out the entire article and you may be on your way to a lucrative and fun career in sports.


The lost generation?

BusinessWeek recently had an interesting article on the challenges facing young people in this economy. Many of them just can’t land jobs.

Bright, eager—and unwanted. While unemployment is ravaging just about every part of the global workforce, the most enduring harm is being done to young people who can’t grab onto the first rung of the career ladder.

Affected are a range of young people, from high school dropouts, to college grads, to newly minted lawyers and MBAs across the developed world from Britain to Japan. One indication: In the U.S., the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds has climbed to more than 18%, from 13% a year ago.

For people just starting their careers, the damage may be deep and long-lasting, potentially creating a kind of “lost generation.” Studies suggest that an extended period of youthful joblessness can significantly depress lifetime income as people get stuck in jobs that are beneath their capabilities, or come to be seen by employers as damaged goods.

Equally important, employers are likely to suffer from the scarring of a generation.

This danger of “scarring” seems real, but if you find yourself in this group you have to be proactive and NOT let this hurt you. That may sound easy, as options are now clearly limited. However, on the other hand, the dire condition of the economy can also be used to alter your perceptions of what you need at this time in your life. Many graduates expected to get a high-paying job immediately upon graduation, and now many of those job aren’t available. Yet is that what you really need RIGHT NOW?

In many cases the answer is no. Maybe you can now consider a cool internship that pays little but offers an incredible experience. Perhaps you can take a much-needed break and go on that backpacking trip that you dreamed of doing after college. This of course depends on your funds, though the cost of travel has plummeted.

Alternatively, you can be aggressive about doing something entrepreneurial or contracting out services online.

We know if sucks out there, but you have to make the best of the situation you’re facing. Get motivated, and good things will happen!


Cool site: 1st Job in Sports

For many sports fans, the idea of working in the sports industry is very appealing. With today’s tough job market that dream might seem more difficult, but opportunities exist out there for those who are willing to start at the bottom and work their way up.

1st Job in Sports is a cool site devoted to sports jobs. We noticed that they have a number of internships available with various sports teams.

Unfortunately, the site requires a membership fee. That of course makes it more difficult, as it would be much more convenient if they had a free option for some of the features. That said, if you’ve thought about working in the sports world, this is a good place to start.


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