one million pencils



I’ve been home from DC for a month now. It was the first time I’d really felt that I was away from home--although I live only slightly off-campus of Berkeley, being a 40 minute BART ride from Pleasanton means that family is never too far away, and neither are delicious home-cooked meals. So maybe it was about time that I spent some time away. 

I ended up in DC through a school-run program called Cal in the Capital. Although I had to work hard to be accepted into the program, which provided professional development training and guaranteed housing in DC through the University of California DC Center, it was still on me to secure an internship. 

I ended up splitting my time between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as FINCA International. The two were related only in that they were marketing internships, and gave me a chance to apply both my English and my Business majors to missions that ultimately were to better the lives of others.

On my first day at the SEC, as an intern in the Office of Public Affairs (OPA), I got to sit in on a press interview with the New York Times. It was an exciting story, regarding the  SEC’s first foray into regulating bitcoin, and I saw it published several hours late. It was strange knowing that I’d been in the room when they’d gathered the information, and I loved it. 

The OPA ended up being the best place for me--I often told my friends that it did not feel all  that different from the casual and creative work environments that I was accustomed to back on the West Coast, and my coworkers were some of the most driven and intelligent people I’d  encountered in any workplace. So much for any idea that I’d had of federal jobs being dull and stifling. 

I spent the other half of my days doing direct marketing for FINCA International. I was excited to have the chance to work there and explore an area of social enterprise that I hadn’t yet, microfinancing. Most of the work  that I ended up doing was in donor relations, and even as I was learning about the work that FINCA does international with rural banking, I was learning about the stories of the donors who make possible that work. 

True to FINCA’s mission, to make tomorrow better today I spent my last day at the office planting trees around DC, before returning back to enjoy We The Pizza, decidedly one of my favorite places I ate in DC. 

Beyond working, I also had the chance to take part in some of the unique opportunities that DC offers to the young and broke: I attended a swim party at the Watergate Hotel, spent Friday evenings at free jazz concerts in the sculpture gardens and at the Wharf, toured the Pentagon, woke up at 3:30 am to go to the Mueller Hearing, and spent countless hours at museums with new friends I’d made (and since they go to Cal, I got to take them back home with me). 

I’m so grateful for the opportunity that I had to spent this summer in such an exciting place. Each day was its own adventure. I’m thankful for the people that I met, who mentored me and became my friends. I’ve had no summer like it before.

A friend and I at the Pentagon!

A friend and I at the Pentagon!

Meg Shriber