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The Yappie

Part 6: Workplace Behavior (💼)

Gear up for success during your summer-long job interview

By Andrew Peng

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


  • You’re going to hear a lot about work ethic, and you’re going to be tasked with many different things — most of which you will receive little to no guidance on.
  • While you can’t do everything, there are several steps that you can take to make the most of things.

Work Ethic

  • Show up: Come into the office on time and do the work that you’re assigned — even if it seems like it’s far from glamorous. Everyone does these tasks, from data entry to printing to phone calls.
  • Show respect. Check your personal opinions about politics at the door, and treat everyone like they’re a VIP.
  • Don’t take things personally: Fast-paced environments can fuel directness that could be mistaken for dislike.
  • Learn from experience: Keeping in mind your mental health and capacity to work, you should be performing your internship responsibilities to the best of your ability. Seek out mentors and think of this as a summer-long job interview. Spend lots of time listening, asking questions, making connections, and learning from your supervisors and fellow interns if possible. Don’t assume that you know everything or that your supervisors may seem bothered by your questions.
  • Show initiative: Lots of interns do everything they’re told, but rarely anything else. Pitch in and ask if you can tackle new projects. Let your supervisor or coworkers know you’re available if they need help, or if there’s something that you’re interested in pursuing. This may push you towards a different and riskier path, but it also allows you to explore and do work that makes you proud.
  • Take responsibility: Everyone makes mistakes. If you learn from them, all will be well.

Other Tips

  • On the Hill: Always address individuals by their formal titles. For a Member of Congress, appropriate titles are Congressman, Representative, or Senator. Some members and officials have titles like Secretary, Chair, Director, etc. Never call anyone by their first name, no matter how long you have known them.
  • Understand the office dialect: My office said, “I’ll ping you” and incorporated a million acronyms into verbal and digital conversations — your office will have something unique to it.
  • Have paper and a writing utensil with you at all times: Legal pads and pens are common.
  • Getting updates: Sign up for newsletters on topics that you’re interested in and ask your supervisors if they have some favorites. If you’re into Hill politics, POLITICO Playbook and Axios AM/PM have you covered. Defense policy? There’s Defense One’s briefing. Education policy? Get subscribed to POLITICO’s Morning Education, Fritzwire, EducationWeek, and more.
  • Closing out your internship: Send a handwritten thank-you note to each of your supervisors on your last day, and a personal email to anyone who you’ve been able to connect and work with. This is not just a professional courtesy — it has a lot of other benefits that could help you down the line.
  • Keep this in mind: All internships are unique in their own way, so you may have vastly different experiences than your friends or roommates.

News Sources to Know

  • TV networks you’ll probably hear about: C-SPAN, FOX, FBN, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Bloomberg, CBS, ABC.
  • Major newspapers/magazines in the D.C. area: The Washington Post, Express (a Washington Post publication), The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, POLITICO, CQ + Roll Call (Hill specific), The Hill, National Journal (Hill specific), Washington City Paper.
  • Other newspapers available almost everywhere: Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today.
  • Other relevant news sites: Axios, Federal News Network, DCist, Washingtonian.

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