One month and still going strong! My first couple of weeks in DC went by like molasses, but now that I’ve established a routine and have settled into day-to-day life, time is flying.
So what is day-to-day life like for Kayla you may ask? Well here’s a little glimpse:
A typical day starts when my alarm goes off and I either have the motivation to go for a run in the snow, or decide to forgo the run and begin getting ready for work. Megan and Jill leave at around 8:30am, but since I don’t need to be into work until 9:30, we are able to stagger as we share the same kitchen, bathroom and living room. One by one we bundle up and head out the door. It’s about a 25-minute walk from our place to work and I enjoy every minute of it as I catch up on the headlines through the BBC’s global podcast for the day.
When I walk through the door at the corner of L and 14th street, I say hello to Lasso (the receptionist for the building) and we engage in brief conversation before I take the elevator to the 11th floor- Headquarters for FINCA International. Now that I have a key to my office I enjoy getting to work a little before 9:30 so that I can have the office to myself for a few minutes. This is partly so that I can get a head start on some emails before Jean-Amiel comes in with new assignments for the day, but there’s another reason. It just so happens that the office I work in is a corner office and my desk, right by the window, has a lovely view. I know its silly, but getting there early, I sometimes imagine that I have my own office with a view and that I’m not a lowly intern without any money.
Day to day tasks in the human resources department includes answering emails from applicants that are having trouble with the website, scheduling interviews for staff, and other administrative tasks such as posting jobs on the web, proof reading and filing expense reports (all very exciting- I know). This past week I had a couple of interesting assignments that really broke up the train-train quotidian (daily grind), but I’ll get back to that later.
Somewhere between 12 and 2 I take a 30-40 min lunch. There is a small break room where I go to eat my PB and J. I would normally enjoy leaving the building for a while, but with the weather the way it is and to avoid the temptation to spend money on food, I rarely venture out. Plus, I’ve found that eating in the break room has proven the most effective way of interacting with other staff and making new friends.
Depending on what I’m working on that day, I leave between 5 and 6pm, walk back home and make myself a little dinner with my roommates. Evenings vary from day to day and week to week, but are usually pretty laid back. Often, I’m searching for jobs and internships online or writing cover letters for applications.
So that’s the most typical day, but typically my day is not so typical. This is especially true at work, where Jean-Amiel has done a wonderful job of making my position as informational and interesting as possible. This week for example, I had a few assignments that really have helped me to increase my understanding of Microfinance and non-profit management.
One assignment was a seminar that I attended for Jean-Amiel. The seminar was hosted by USAID, but the lecturer was a French economist, known for her influential studies of Microfinance. Her name is Esther Duflo, and the study, The Microfinance Miracle? A Randomized Evaluation of the Evidence, has already shed some light on the most popular debate in Microfinance, concerning whether or not Microfinance is helping the poor. If you are interested in my notes on the lecture, I have attached the Executive summary (which I completed for work).
Friday of this week, Jean-Amiel asked if I would like to go with him to a recruiting event at John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) career fair. I of course said yes (even before he had a chance to tell me that lunch would be provided). At the fair I mostly answered general questions about FINCA and what we do, then Jean-Amiel manned the more specific questions relating to employment. Most of the students that approached our table were at the end of their master’s degree in international studies, and well versed in Microfinance. Speaking with students gave me an opportunity to see how well I really understood MF. I was pleasantly surprised when I could easily answer questions and explain FINCA’s mission and work in the field. In addition to playing the recruiter, I also got to ask students about their own experiences, which gave me an idea of where I may want to be in a few years when I’m applying for Grad school and employment.
This week I also invested quite a few evenings getting to know Augustana Lutheran Church. Last Sunday, I attended their 10:30 service for the first time. It was a wonderfully traditional Lutheran service, and after it was over, several members of the church greeted me and welcomed me to stay for lunch. The congregation is fairly small, but the church itself, with stone walls and wood vaulted ceiling is gorgeous. I ended up coming back on Tuesday night for the Mardi Gras Jambalaya dinner, Wednesday for Ash Wednesday, and again on Thursday for Choir practice. The Choir director just happened to receive his Master’s in Music and Organ performance at the University of Iowa and played the Casavant organ for a few years at Gloria Die in the late 70s. How’s that for the Lutheran network in action?
Just a quick update on my living situation; we move out of our Dupont residence in a week! I can’t believe its already almost over. March first I’ll be moving in with Hanne and her room mate and taking over Hanne’s room for the middle of March while she’s working in Geneva. She lives in Arlington VA near the Courthouse Metro. Its not within walking distance from work, but still just a 15min metro ride away. To give you a preview of the area I’ll be living in, please watch the video at this link!