For the past few months I’ve been interning/volunteering one day a week at the Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaign. If you are not aware, Senator Sanders is in the running to gain the Democratic nomination alongside Hillary Clinton. He is very much as left wing as allowed in America, which on the whole is pretty right wing. I tend to think of Hillary Clinton as being far closer to David Cameron than Blairites. He has similar stances to Corbyn, but not as left.
From speaking to others at Georgetown and George Washington University, I’ve noticed the emphasis there is on interning alongside one’s studies. During orientation, there was a whole session dedicated to the protocols of interning. It isn’t unheard of back at King’s to intern, I know a few people that do so, but it isn’t an overwhelming majority like I have found here. Amongst exchange students, there a few of us that do, and the majority that aren’t, are actively seeking one. I know someone who is interviewing to work at his country’s embassy, and a few that intern at Capitol Hill.
I do believe that interning an excellent thing to be doing to stand out from the crowd in the employment market, but I have noticed that it breeds an intense level of competition, and from talking to others, a lot of people really don’t like what they do. I feel like this is a typical view of those that intern, and I do know a girl that enjoys where she interns, but others I know aren’t as crazy about it. I must admit I’ve become disengaged with campaign work, especially when the majority of the time I am phoning people that don’t want to talk to me. It is exciting working on a campaign, but I know that having a few months working in America will look good for my CV. That argument is the reason why those of us intern, but there are some implications to this, i.e. stress. It might be just me, but with the intense workload at Georgetown, it often seems like too much balancing it all.
Although, I only do one day a week, and I know others that do two or even three days. This constant work must lead to a lot of stress and sacrifice when considering schoolwork. The professor for my ‘Politics of Inequality’ class (Matthew Carnes) took a poll in our class today, asking how stressed the class of 40 felt in general, over two thirds felt stressed regularly, with one of the two thirds feeling ‘overwhelmed’. This institution is a highly academic and rigorous one, and adding intern culture to the mix breeds a stressful environment, which speaks volumes for the calibre of the students here. As I become more integrated into this institution, I notice myself working harder, as if to keep up with everyone else, and this sentiment is quite common. I do wonder if other students are open about feeling stressed. Considering the competitive nature I imagine there is a desire to act as if coping with a lot of work, an internship, and extracurriculars is the norm. As well as being the norm, the amount of activities and stress one is under is almost glorified, causing people to gloat how much they have to do. The poll in my class earlier made me reconsider the Georgetown environment. Don’t get me wrong, this university a great place to study, impressive academics, and I really am loving it here, but there is a question of whether this competitive culture is healthy.