Tuesday, November 24, 2009

I Spy With My Little Eye


The last two weeks have been a drag. My policy class has been boring. Studying for the GRE is incongruous with my other activities. It is as though my work load quadrupled while my motivation to work declined, thus adding even more work for me to do. I think the best thing that happened recently was my trip to the International Spy Museum through the Science, Technology and Society program. I must say, that was the best museum I have ever been to. I'm not a museum goer kind of guy. I prefer to do things, make my own history, rather than spend hours and hours examining the past in museums. I know it is often said that you must know where you came from in order to know where you are going, but museums don't elicit that sort of understanding within me. However, I loved the Spy Museum's hands-on approach, from memorizing a spy's identity to crawling through a ventilation system.

Anyway, at the Spy Museum, my classmates and I participated in a mission to recover a lost nuclear detonator. The best part was when we raided a suspected person's office; it felt so real. I tend to pay attention to details, which made that mission a little bit more exhilarating for me. In the back of mind is the idea that I would be perfect as a federal agent; henceforth, I may study for the foreign service exam and see where that takes me in the world of intelligence. That trip is causing me to question my motives for wanting a PhD in public health when I can go into the federal government and do something I'm truly passionate about. I just don't want to have regrets ten years down the road.

In other news, I am finally able to get a substantial amount of work done as an intern at Safe Kids Worldwide. My supervisor seems to have a lot of deadlines coming up so he's actually giving me the opportunity to feel like I'm contributing to the organization. For example, this week I wrote a report to the Consumer Product Safety Commission urging them to put warning labels on skateboards. The report highlighted the 147% increase of hospital visits due to skateboard injuries in the United States over the last ten years. Additionally, I've taken a couple of trips to Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill and then reported back to Safe Kids Worldwide on who said what, and most importantly, how we can garner support of the people who said things that are pleasing to the organization without political partisanship. 

At last, whoaa...25 days left in good old Washington, DC. Hmm...how I will seize the day without succumbing to work overload...

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quarter Life?


It is official that I'm going through my quarter life crisis. I guess it came a little earlier for me, but that's the only way I can explain my internal restlessness for the past couple of weeks. I think someone forgot to mention to me that it's all downhill after turning 21. So, I'm trying my best to keep that reality check from affecting my performance at work, class, TWC programs, and my life overall.

The fortune cookie I got the other day that read, "Today is the last day of your life so far." added more fuel to the nearly uncontrollable blaze within. It caused me to make a bucket-list, push certain people out of my life and welcome others back/in, and over scrutinize my inadequacies, i.e. lack of focus, commitment, skills, etcetera.

For the last few weeks, the added pressure of life after college...of getting into a public health graduate program..has been making me feel overwhelmed. I don't see why my drive to learn and $100,000+ for a graduate degree can't be enough to get me an acceptance letter. This experience is also causing me to see the harsh reality behind the $150,000 bachelor's degree I will receive in May from Adelphi University. Is it really worth anything now? With graduate school in the back of my mind, it feels as though nothing matters. My supervisor at Safe Kids is kind enough to give me advice on the kind of school of public health he thinks would be good fits for me according to his experience with them, but it's still not enough to alleviate my level of stress.

You know what, I feel like packing up a bag and running away to a remote land where I can discard my addictions to technology, escape standardized testing and forget about the catch-22 of "1-2 years of experience" to get a job or acceptance into a higher education program.

As you can see, it has been a troublesome couple of weeks. My studying for the Graduate Record Exam to take tomorrow, November 10th, isn't helping my situation. Anyway, the best thing that happened last week was the chief operating officer of The Washington Center randomly taking me and another student out to lunch to evaluate the program. I think if she actually took our recommendations seriously (i.e. more interactions among TWC students & controversial topics for lectures), the program will surely be even more successful.

Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Since I've been in Washington, DC, I've learned a few things (sometimes the hard way) and also had the opportunity to implement a few behaviors I already knew. Check out my list thus far.

1. Never have a sweaty/wet hand.
  • No matter where you are or what you are doing, there's a very high chance you will be asked for a handshake. Wiping your hand at the last second is a little weird.
2. Everyone knows someone, especially in Washington, DC.
  • With that said, be mindful of the things you say and do in public because it'll most likely come back to hunt you.
3. Be nice to your concierge at home; respectful of your security guard at work; and friends with your office's administrative assistant...not on a superficial level though.
  • At least learn their names.
  • These people have the power to brighten your day & life. They can also make things extremely difficult for you.
  • There's a high chance that they have been in town for much longer than you have thus likely to know all the good spots and who to talk to.
4. Never hesitate to pick up one of those free newspapers by the Metro stations.
  • The cover story might be the topic du jour at work. Trust me, you don't wanna be that guy who never knows anything about the hot issues. Besides, knowing what's going on in town or around the world is fuel to conversations and start of new relationships.
5. Remember people's NAMES, especially the individuals who work in your office.
  • Screwing up a person's name or calling him/her a different name will make it awkward almost every time you two meet.
  • When sending an e-mail, double, triple, quadruple check if the person's name is spelled correctly. It annoys me when my name is misspelled.
6. Don't be afraid to boost your colleagues' egos a bit by chatting with them about who they are and what they do.
  • Don't turn it into an Oprah session though.
7. Small talks are your best friends.
  • They will get you into places.
8. Never leave your apartment without a business card.
  • Be very thankful for the ones TWC gives out. If you can bring your own, do...it might not be a good idea to put your cell # on it.
9. Sunday night is not considered weekend.
  • The Metro shuts down at 12:30 am on Sunday nights. Be careful, the last train might be at 11:55 pm at your station.
10. During your internship in Washington, DC, never "Friend" your colleagues on Facebook.
  • Open a LinkedIn account. It might become essential to your professional life.
11. Be sure to take advantage of the FREE things in DC i.e. museums, festivals, lunches at embassies, and theatrical shows.
  • Be on the look-out for e-mails from TWC. The program usually gives away free or discounted tickets to shows (but respond ASAP since they go quickly).
12. When going out to a social event with your boss, don't dress better than him. You want to make him look good, while not looking like crap.
  • Get the feel of the office's cultural norms. Don't be that guy who's always in suit & tie while your colleagues are in business casual. I was that overdressed guy the first week, but then realized, I gotta let everyone know that I actually belong in this place.
13. The Metro is not as reliable as it would like you to think.
  • I hate being late to anything. So, if you're like me, add 20 minutes to your traveling schedule. If you live on the Red line, add 35 minutes. That line is ridiculous.
Until Next Time,
Emmanuel H.