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The Yappie

Part 5: Ethics (🛡️)

How to avoid getting kicked out of Washington, D.C. for good

By Andrew Peng

This is part five of The Yappie’s 2019 D.C. AAPI Intern Guide. Subscribe to our weekly politics newsletter now.

Your Security Badge/ID

  • Interns at federal agencies are usually granted “personal identity verification” (PIV) smart cards which allow them to clear security and log into secure government computers. Hill interns are usually given credentials that allow them to pass through nonpublic areas in the Capitol.
  • Keep your ID safe: Because your badge grants you deep levels of access, put it away or conceal it when you enter public areas.
  • Don’t take photos of your badge: Sending images/scans to close friends and parents (or publicizing your ID online) doesn’t make you look as cool as you think it does. In fact, it’s usually a violation of security protocols.
  • Don’t misuse your ID: Don’t try to use your badge to try and enter buildings you do not normally have access to.

Confidential Information

  • Never disclose any sensitive/private information to anyone: After you sign your intern agreement and finish your onboarding process, you are likely participating in internal discussions, have access to non-public areas, and are privy to confidential information.
  • Note: Don’t mention official duties in any capacity without receiving explicit permission.
  • Don’t gossip or be arrogant: This is a small town, and no one likes someone who wants to show off their knowledge or flaunt their insider status. Keep quiet, be humble, and maintain your professionalism inside and outside the office.

Email and Social Media

  • Especially if this is a federal or public service internship, you are responsible for maintaining the highest standards of honesty and integrity— including in your digital life.
  • Assume that what you write will be read: Keep your email correspondence professional and appropriate — your supervisors will have the authority to see what you are saying. If you are in the federal government, your emails can be released to the public through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
  • Be careful on social media: This is another important thing that you need to discuss with your supervisor. Carefully consider all material that you are posting during and outside work hours, especially if it is not sanctioned by your institution. If you are working on the Hill, one of the worst things you can do is cause serious damage to the reputation of your elected member.

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