It’s been about a month since I started living and working in DC, and there isn’t one day that I regret my decision to move here. Let me back up and explain the whirlwind that landed me here for an internship with CET Academic Programs.
I had applied for two different positions at CET in July and hadn’t heard back. I was focusing more on applying to jobs directly at universities, and enjoying my time in PA with family and friends, so I figured that they had already filled the positions. I was down in the DC area for my cousin’s wedding, and tacked on a few extra days to my trip to see friends. That was a great decision… because I just happened to be at a Starbucks in northern Virginia working on some applications when I received an email asking me if I was still interested in the internship position with CET and if I could come in for an interview ASAP! I responded to the email, drove to Staples and printed out my newest cover letter, went to Banana Republic and bought a suit a few minutes before the store closed, than zoomed over to Target and got some shoes, a blouse and a bag to appear polished for my interview. Whew! I went in for an interview the next afternoon, and a week later, I had the job. I took a night to mull it over, and then said yes!
Now that it was a reality, I needed to figure out some important logistics. Where would I live? How would I move all of my stuff from PA to DC? Would I be able to afford living in DC on a part-time, hourly salary? That’s where my awesome relatives come in. Mark, a longtime DC resident, had recently moved into a beautiful house in NW DC with his wife and their two kids. The house just happened to come with a basement apartment including a full kitchen, washer/dryer, bathroom and separate entrance. I was afraid it was out of my price range, so I took to Facebook and Craiglist to investigate my options. But I talked to Mark and he offered to give me a good deal on rent in exchange for occasional childcare responsibilities! Perfect! With that huge weight lifted off my shoulders, I focused on starting to pack up my life (again).
My grandmother helped take me to the Budget rent-a-truck center near her house so that I could rent the most intimidating vehicle I’ve ever driven– a ten foot truck. She took me out to lunch and (secretly) followed me along the highway for a few miles to make sure that nothing went wrong. I don’t know who was more afraid– me or her! I drove the truck to the Poconos, gaining confidence in how to maneuver it, and loaded it up that night (by flashlight!) with all of my junk. (Thankfully, when I moved out of my college apartment, I packed everything in neatly labeled boxes that were waiting for me in the attic! Good job, former self!) Now, getting a 50 lb box out of the attic by yourself is kind of tricky, but somehow I managed to do it (several times). I threw my favorite clothes into two large suitcases, cleaned out the refrigerator, locked up the house, and left the next morning for New Jersey where the next installment of relatives were waiting for me.
Aunt Jane and Uncle Dan had some furniture that needed to get to Mark in DC, so I offered to be the trucker that delivered it from point A to point B. We loaded up all of the cargo with beach towels, fleece blankets, pillows and comforters wedged strategically to protect the heavy things and make everything fit. It was a work of art, complete with strings and straps to hold everything in place. They sent me on my way at lunch time, and apart from one little hiccup getting lost while trying to find 95 S, it was smooth sailing, err driving. I hit every pot hole on my way into DC, but the furniture (and extra large truck) all arrived safely. I was beaming ear to ear when I finally parked the giant in front of Mark’s house that afternoon. I was so relieved that everything had worked out. I accepted the job on Tuesday, and was living in DC on Friday. Whew!
Work started on Monday. I was fully booked with training sessions and meetings about all of the different CET programs. Tunisia, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Italy… oh my! Remind me why I didn’t study abroad in college?! I immediately connected with colleagues who had lived in China, and we joked about learning Chinese, discussed where to find good Chinese food in DC (answer: nowhere), and figured out that we had a bunch of friends in common. The office is friendly, supportive and casual. I’ve participated in the weekly ritual of Burrito Friday, went to Happy Hour for a coworker moving on to another job :(, and helped coordinate surprise cupcakes for another coworker’s birthday. Oh, and the work, you ask? Well, that’s been pretty great too. I may be an “intern” but I’ve only made coffee for myself. I feel like a trusted member of the operations team, and have been able to help out with a variety of tasks, giving me insight to all of the different parts of the office. One day I’m working on putting together Czech visa applications, the next day I’m helping admit students to programs in China, including reading their Chinese essays. I’ve worked with the marketing team to upload student blogs to the website, as well as send out promotional materials to regional staff promoting CET at universities around the country. I’ve gained valuable experience with several databases that are utilized by almost all Study Abroad offices. My most menial task is typing labels for student folders– which I actually love because I get to do it on an old school typewriter that makes me feel like a secretary on Mad Men!
Life here has been busy in the best way possible. I got a second part time job to fill in some of my extra time, and add some much-needed extra cash-flow. I’ve zig-zagged across the city to snag deals from people on Craigslist. I bought a great set of plates and bowls for $20 and a brand new block of knives for $30. Amazing! Now I’m working on sourcing silverware, a bike lock and some other kitchen odds and ends. It’s a fun game and it gets me out into the city. I’ve also spent some time with my littlest roommates upstairs (aged 6 and 2). We’ve had bath time, bed time stories, baked muffins and cookies, played soccer and made a super cool Matchbox car ramp out of an old shoe box. It’s the little things! I’m enjoying the rent-a-kid arrangement, and still feel like I have plenty of privacy and a place to my own. DC has proven to be an exciting, international city. I love the public transportation, the diversity of people, the unlimited food options and the feel of city life. DC is the place for me!
Thanks to everyone who helped me physically (or emotionally) on this move. Now that I’m feeling a little more settled, I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends, planning weekends to visit with relatives, having visitors come to me, and continuing to update you all about my life here!