As an undergrad student living in DC, I have the pleasure of competing for the most prestigious of classes, jobs, and internships. College students may often appear to be easygoing and nonchalant, but make no mistake – everything is a battlefield. There are a finite number of positions available and more than enough eager students to fill them. We live in a city where students concentrate on the quantity of experience on their resumes. They’re focused on joining clubs, seeking leadership positions, being a “Hilltern,” and making as many personal connections as humanly possible.
I find that there is a difference, though, between those who claim they want to “do something” and those who actually go out and do it. Many students find themselves in dull internships where the most they might accomplish is filing papers, answering an important phone call, or providing proscribed information to those who request it.
Working at Polithon, I am lucky to avoid the typical monotonous “intern life” that has become commonplace and generally accepted as inevitable for someone of my age and my experience. My work doesn’t drone on for hours, I don’t spend my time wishing I were elsewhere, and I don’t leave feeling as if everything I accomplished for the day was futile or redundant.
At Polithon, I have the ability to actually learn from those that I work with, try my skills at new tasks, and test what I can actually do on my own. I’m given real work to do, which at the end of the day is actually important for our team. I don’t go on coffee runs or sit and answer phones; I actually can tell that what I do is worthwhile, for myself and for this organization.
Part of the reason why I enjoy working at Polithon so much is because its mission is similar to my own way of operating. I like to feel as if my actions matter, that I can influence something, and not just do uninteresting, rote work. Polithon‘s goal is to help an entire generation feel and act this way. I literally get to help an organization that works to turn my peers, my very same school competitors, into young adults that actually take action and do something.
Everyone at school constantly talks about what they do, where they go, and how they have a “leg up” over everyone else. There is consistent pressure to take what you can before others get to it, but why does it have to be a zero-sum game? Often we choose to distance ourselves from our peers rather than work collectively, effectively weakening our strength as a cohesive generation. Polithon provides the opportunity to create a unified generation of millennials that work together, use their voices, and make an impact. When I leave Polithon, I don’t have to wonder if I’ve done anything other than build my resume—I know I’ve helped make a difference.
Danielle is Polithon’s Operations Assistant. She is a second-year student at The George Washington University working toward her BA in Political Science and her MA in Public Administration. Danielle wants to work to establish a more involved generation of voters and engage social media to support political change. She is also an avid traveler and chocolate connoisseur.