After a long day, no matter where you are, there’s not better way to recover than to sit in the sun, grab a cheap drink and food, and decompress with coworkers and friends. I have noticed that D.C. has this sort of “happy hour culture,” where happy hours are just another part of the day and an opportunity to be social, yet still professional.
As an extrovert, if I come home after work and just make dinner and watch TV, I’m exhausted and probably will not venture out for the rest of the evening. If I meet up with a Tulane friend over a glass of prosecco or all the Brookings interns after we get out for the day, however, my energy comes back immediately. Between music, calories, and finally seeing the light of day after nine hours indoors, I couldn’t ask for much else to bring me back to life.
Especially in D.C., everything becomes a networking event, especially when it happens in a professional setting. Most of these get-togethers focus on our universities, majors, research projects, travels, and current internships, and I have to admit that I’m thriving with these nerdy conversation topics. During one intern happy hour, after a couple hours of informal chatting over tacos and coronas, I was genuinely taken aback when the person I was speaking to shook my hand and found me on LinkedIn. This being said, I have also used these situations to meet people who become my Facebook friends (definitely a step above LinkedIn connections), so I’d say it depends on the people you meet.
Brookings also has official happy hours every other Friday for all employees, and the one I went to last weekend was a major highlight of my time here. After a full week of work, I ventured up to the rooftop of the Brookings administrative building with some other Economics Studies interns. We got wine, cheese, and fruit and enjoyed the beautiful weather while chatting about everything from funny things our bosses said to why Brookings uses AP style but also the Oxford comma (still upset about this one). A couple Foreign Policy interns, one of whom I had met at an intern happy hour the night before, joined us as well and stayed with me past the end once the other interns had gone home. As we got to know each other, we were approached by the president of Brookings, who asked us about our internships, universities, interests, etc. Hearing him thank us for our work there and encourage us to keep exploring the field of policy was so rewarding and exciting.
Even social events with friends often seem to be centered around happy hours. I notice restaurants and bars packed on Wednesday-Friday, 5-8pm, but these same places are much more quiet on Saturday nights. It’s just so easy to meet up with a friend from Tulane or one of my old classmates from Sciences Po when we all have the same work schedule and work somewhat around Dupont. Later this summer, I know I have happy hours planned such as a joint-networking event with a neighboring think tank’s interns and an alumni event with Newcomb people, and I’ll also take advantage of the good food and drink specials all around me whenever I need a chance to hang out or just feel like an adult living in a city. Besides, I can’t say no to the tots at Tonic or the free tacos at Front Page!
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