Advice from Former DC Externship Students
"Do not pass up any opportunities to observe your superiors in meetings."
"(1) Use Yelp to help you explore the best of the city; (2) Find the right person in DC to develop a mentorship relationship with, write them handwritten thank-you letters, and continue to invest in those positive relationships/mentorships as time goes by; (3) Pass up on relationships that are not the right fit or that threaten your goals/principles - there is such a thing as bad advice and a waste of time, and if someone does not share your foundational values or broad goals, they will likely not be a worthwhile long term relationship."
"Washington is all about networking and getting to know people, but there's a right way and a wrong way to do it. Don't waste your time - and your reputation - getting to know everyone for the sake of getting to know people. Focus on meeting a smaller number of better connected people instead."
"If you do not already have a good mentor, then find one. Having a great mentor made my experience here in DC invaluable."
"Follow the old saying 'When in Rome, do as the Romans do.' The capital city is an expert networking town - and you will become an expert in short time. Just expect that every person you meet has something valuable to give you, and you have something valuable to give to them, and you will always be pleasantly surprised when you find out exactly what it is. Then you can truly appreciate the city for all it's worth."
"Network as much as possible. Reach out to a person you find interesting, whether it be for coffee or lunch, and have a conversation with them. People enjoy talking about themselves, meeting someone for lunch is a casual way to learn about their career, receive advice, and gain insight into whether their field is right for you."
"Take advantage of DC's opportunities to witness our government in action (supreme court arguments, agency and other hearings, etc.), and don't put those off until the end of the semester."
"Never turn down an opportunity or assignment. Volunteer for any task, no matter how small; your demonstrated work ethic and teamwork will be rewarded in turn and will leave the kind of lasting impression upon your supervisors that will get your name floating around the upper management circles and set you up for greater opportunities down the road. Also, take the time to maintain a work-life balance - take advantage of the incredible environment that surrounds you in DC. Some of my favorite activities out of the office and classroom were night-time runs along the national mall to see the WWII, Korean War, and Lincoln Memorials (without all the tourists), kayaking along the Potomac River in Georgetown, or simply enjoying the tremendously diverse nightlife in the various cultural pockets sprinkled across the District."
"No matter what area of the law interests you, the opportunities in DC are abundant. Be fearless and take advantage of this rare opportunity to network and explore everything DC has to offer."
"People say the key to success is networking -- this is only partially true; the key to success is following up with your contacts."
"While you will most likely be working with some of the top attorneys in your field, don't forget to spend time with the other law students that you end up working with. A lot of the D.C. program's externships attract students from top schools across the country, and you would be surprised how much you can enrich your own experience by collaborating, chatting, or just grabbing a drink with a co-worker."