In four days, I will have departed Reagan National Airport (DCA) en route to Long Angeles International Airport (LAX). Life in Washington D.C. has been interesting this summer, and I wanted to share some reflections on the working aspect of life.
I came to D.C. having just graduated from college. There is no comfort in returning to [undergraduate] school. For me, the only thing after summer is having a job versus having no job. Therefore, the point of my summer was not to be here for recreation. I wanted to work.
Here were my three goals for the summer:
- Do well at the workplace.
- Actively find and get a job.
- Find a post-summer place to live.
- (continuous goal) maintain health
To sum up my job this summer, here is what I did other than administrative stuff (15%). My organization is a private sponsor to the Department of State’s foreign exchange programs. Due to federal budget cuts, my two summer-long projects was to find and model alternative ways to get additional sources of revenue. 50% of my work was spent researching both publicly and privately available (special access!) information. The other 35% was spent organizing the data into easy-to-present formats (mostly Excel and charts) and find areas which can has potential to add value. The president and board members will be personally pitching my findings to potential partners.
Work was 9am-5pm Monday-Fridays, and I found myself needing to expend physical energy after spending most of the day sitting. I found a gym on my second day in the city and consistently worked out.
This was fun and all, but I had only accomplished one of my goals for the summer. June passed by quickly and I felt increasing pressure to make some progress on post-summer plans. Therefore, I stopped going out. My social life went from moderate to nil.
For about three weeks starting the second week of July, I came back from work and, with the exception of occasional getaways, spent the rest of the night finding and applying to jobs. One session lasted from 7pm-4:30am, while many others lasted from early evening to 2-3am. This anxiety spilled over into work, and I spent some work hours looking for more places to work.
This was a stressful and anxious, but fulfilling summer. It was necessary – I believe everyone entering the job market has experienced what I went through. I also believe in strong work ethics, but it’s not so black and white: having enough relaxation is equally important as I’ve learned. Otherwise, no use trying to get into the right mindset when the said mind has been overworking.