By Ian McDonnellEpisode 1: The City
One day in mid-May, I loaded a few bags of clothes, suits, and a tennis bag into a friends car and road tripped down to Washington D.C. (“The Big Apple” as the natives call it) to start a summer-long internship at The Cohen Group. After meeting Co-President of the firm Bob Tyrer at the SPIA annual board meeting earlier that year and not making too much of a fool out of myself, this phenomenal opportunity had been waiting for me to hopefully knock out the park (with failure likely resulting in Captain Settele knocking my head out of said park). I had expected an intense experience for this, my first glimpse into the professional, non-academic world, however I was still surprised at the magnitude and breadth of responsibilities given to me as early as the first week. As one may understand upon reading this account, I no longer look at this arrangement as an “internship”, but rather a research fellowship that happens to be the length of a summer. Every week involving meetings with 4-star generals, ambassadors, and leaders of industry; compiling detailed research papers involving the most current and relevant world events, and generally working my ass off (and for only 55 hours a week on average!). In fact, I’ve stopped using the term “intern” entirely, especially when telling girls at the bars what I’m up to this summer (a lesson that didn’t take too long to learn).
Upon pulling up to the row house I was living in via a Facebook-arranged subletting of a high school friend’s room, I was greeted by the sights and sounds of the city. To my horror these included a squashed rat carcass on the sidewalk in front of the house and a homeless man sleeping in the doorway of the neighboring estate (an abandoned row house that we are now fairly certain shelters the occasional squatter). Determined to make the best of it, I spent two weeks getting to know the layout of DC (streets set up in the likeness of Cartesian coordinates, how could a former math student not feel at home?), meeting a few Colby alumni, and getting accustomed to the Metro’s chaos at peak hours. Later on my will would be tested through the realization that my apartment occupied the midpoint between Howard University Hospital and an ambulance depot, but all in all the acclimatization went pretty well.
As the internship drew closer I made all the necessary preparations; ironing my shirts (poorly), mapping out my morning commute (~30 minutes, not too bad), finding a nearby dry cleaning place, and acquiring a VIC card at the local Harris Teeter. As my first summer not leading a bunch of kids on canoeing and hiking trips in the Maine woods, I had no idea what to expect for this internship and was a little worried. Luckily for me, before even starting the program the interns were all matched with a mentor from the firm; I met up with Senior Associate Matt Ritchie for lunch a week before the start date and he patiently answered the slew of questions I threw at him. A little more reassured, I celebrated my last few days free by purchasing a bunch of Yuengling (not available in Maine; this beer made a special guest appearance during past spring break trips to the Georgia beach).
Episode 2: Internship Day 1
Considering how nervous I was before the first day, I surprised even myself in that I didn’t puke