Washington, DC Summer Internship Guide
Congratulations on landing a summer internship in Washington, DC! With its plethora of free museums, national landmarks, world-famous cupcakes (more on those later) and a thriving political scene, spending the summer in the nation’s capital is sure to be one that you won’t forget. DC has such a rich cultural history: from its French-inspired design by architect Charles L’Enfant to the historic March on Washington, it has always been a place that both artists and activists could comfortably call home. Most of the young professionals who currently live in the city are transplants from all over the world, making DC a cultural hybrid of some of our nation’s most well-known politicos and changemakers. So whether you want to discuss foreign policy while sipping fair trade coffee or attend a concert by your favorite band, you’ll definitely discover your perfect fit.
We want to make sure that you get the most out of your summer in DC so we created this Internship City Guide to give you an idea on how to maximize your summer in the city. This guide covers it all: from transportation and housing to avoiding common pitfalls (ever had a boot on your car?). More importantly, this guide was designed for a person like you in mind – someone who wants a more unique, off-the-beaten-path experience.
Exploring Washington DC as an Intern
While interning in DC for the summer, you’re bound to visit the usual suspects like the National Monument, WWII Memorial (make sure to go at night), Embassy Row, Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Smithsonian museums, but the city has so much more to offer! From hidden gardens and espionage exhibits to discussions with journalists and policymakers, you will definitely find your niche.
There’s tons of great food but if you really want to eat like a local then join the FoodTruckFight, discover your favorite Ethiopian restaurant on historic U St., dine at the best Indian restaurant (Bill Clinton’s words not ours) Bombay Club and elbow strangers for a soul food feast at Ohhs and Aaahs. More than anything, a true DC resident knows great cupcakes and for good reason: they’re home to the first ever cupcake shop – Sprinkles. So if you really want to earn your local stripes then head over to their famous shop in Georgetown and taste one of their award-winning cupcakes (red velvet is our favorite).
If you’re looking for a calorie-free way to spend the day, then check out some of DC’s most overlooked treasures. Conveniently located on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Botanic Garden is a living plant museum and home to some of the world’s most exotic collections of plants and flowers. Treat yourself (for free) to a day of beauty and discovery. Another place that you don’t want to miss is the Newseum. It’s not free like most of the museums in the area, but it’s the only place in the world where you can experience 5 centuries worth of interactive media exhibits. Like the Berlin Wall, Pulitzer Prize winning photography or the Watergate door. Those with a serious appetite for politics should visit the Brookings Institute and the Center for American Progress. These think tanks usually offer summer events that are open to the public. Past speakers include Arianna Huffington, Timothy Geithner and Condoleezza Rice.
More than Politics
Washington, DC is more than just politics and the city also boasts plenty of ways to stay entertained and take a break from long days on the Hill. Sports fans can take the metro over to Nationals Park and catch a baseball game or sign up to play flag football or soccer in one of the cities summer leagues. The newly renovated Howard Theater
is a great place to take in a concert and if you want to spend the evening outdoors, check out WolfTrap’s summer concert series. If you enjoy spoken word, then stop by Bus Boys ‘n Poets, grab a cup of java and catch one of their late night performances.
Need a lift? The Need-to-Know About DC Transportation
DC is commuter-friendly and accessible by most major forms of public transportation. While the getting around part is easy, parking can be a hassle. Most of the city’s available parking requires meter fees (credit cards accepted and you can pay from your mobile) Monday-Saturday. While there are plenty of parking garages, most cost an average of $15 to $25 per day. On-street parking is available in some residential neighborhoods, so if you plan to bring your car make sure to register for a parking permit or be prepared to move it during odd times for street sweeping and rush hour. Meter maids in DC are really aggressive, so don’t get caught parking in the wrong space or forget to feed the meter, because multiple tickets can result in a boot.
Public transportation is the best way to get around DC! WMATA offers multiple bus lines and trains that run throughout the city and surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Beware of morning and evening rush hour. Plan your route ahead of time with WMATA’s Trip Planner or Nextbus to make on-the-go travel plans. One of WMATA’s newest implementations is the DC Circulator – a specialty shuttle bus whose route includes only the hottest stops in the city ($1 and they arrive every 10 minutes).
Paying for public transportation is simple. Pick up a SmarTrip card, available at DC Metro stations and local convenience stores. You can add value and manage your card right from your mobile device. Make sure to register your card, because you can redeem its value in the event that it’s lost or stolen.
Just incase flag football and outdoor yoga aren’t enough to keep those endorphins going, there are several gyms to choose from in the city. Local gyms like Results and Golds are great for those serious about a hardcore workout or weight lifting. For an all-in-one health and spa gym, Vida Fitness and Mint are the perfect places to go. Their facilities are high-end, including a full health bar, squash court and tons of cool classes.
If you’re on a budget, then check out the Washington Sports Clubs and the YMCA. They often offer a seasonal discount to students. Yogis will want to join Yoga District, a non-profit yoga studio where you have the option to pay or volunteer in exchange for your class.
Getting in and Out of Town
There are plenty of ways to get in and out of DC. The three major airports are DCA, IAD and BWI. All three are accessible by public transportation, Shuttle Bus or a $20-$60 cab ride depending on which airport you choose.
DC’s great location means that it’s only a few hours away from Philadelphia, New York and Boston, so if you’re looking to hop on the bus for a short weekend trip then try the BoltBus.. Warning: weekend tickets go fast and they’re known to overbook so always purchase a round trip ticket and arrive at the stop early.
What’s Up Doc?
Searching for a new doctor or health clinic in a major city can be frustrating. Use ZocDoc to book appointments and search for a physician based on your location and insurance provider. If you’re in a real emergency then you can visit one of the cities local hospitals –Howard University Hospital, George Washington University Hospital,
or Georgetown University Hospital.