March 14, 2018

FIRST EXTERNS OF THE YEAR: Lessons for those to come

By Jennie Lefkowitz

I’ll be honest with you, as excited as I am to share this experience, I’ve never written a blog post and I rarely use social media. (Pretty sure I made a Twitter account whilst bored in freshman chemistry that I’ve forgotten about until this moment.)

However, I do love making Instagram stories and Snapchats of my pupper. I write in my journal weekly. I’ve seen plenty of YouTube videos to know what “vlogging” is and I follow a few fashion and skincare blogs. So now you know my lameness and hopefully between those and Oxford writing skill sets [aka my fiancee that checks every essay ever made by me], you’ll enjoy reading about this time in DC.

Some lessons I’ve learned from week one as an AVMA GRD extern:

  1. The Dawg community is EVERYWHERE! If you graduated from UGA and you choose to ever go anywhere outside the Georgia state lines, pack something to represent Georgia. If you’re running away from GA, I’d advise against this because fellow UGA grads will see you from across the street and will shout out Go Dawgs to you. Even in the formalities of meeting people, when you give your status, “I’m at the University of Georgia,” the instant response is a professionally stated, “Go Dawgs”.
  2. Go to a reception/dinner/social hour where you know absolutely no one and give your business card to at least 5 people. Make it a personal challenge. If you are naturally an extrovert, then this will not intimidate you in the slightest but if you are the opposite, this is a great exercise to get more confident in the DC networking ways. I sit somewhere in the middle: I’m used to traveling to places I know zero people and then naturally meeting people or scheduling meetings. However, something about a business card and walking up to a person randomly took some personal coaching. This challenge was suggested by former fellow and friend, Dr. Taylor Winkleman.
  3. If you want to meet the Congressmen that are veterinarians, call them first because they are busy! 99.9% likely the other extern has them on their list so go together. You’ll probably be grouped together if you call individually anyway. Sonja and I tried with one of them. Is that a #FAIL moment?
  4. The fellows are a great place to start. Whether you’re interested in the AVMA Congressional Fellowship Program, AAAS Program, both or neither. Every fellow has a unique background and interest and thus a each has a unique network in DC they could connect you, if your interests are evenly remotely similar.
  5. Speaking of unique and different interests: Attend hearings on any subject you personally find interesting. And/or what your mentor is going to. Each extern has a unique background, and you’re ability to start making what may seem a random connection, is only random because it hasn’t been thought of before. For example, I attended a subcommittee hearing titled “China in Africa: The New Colonialism?”. I’ll elaborate on my thoughts of this hearing in the next blog post but I bet you read that title and thought What the heck does that have to do with veterinary medicine or animal health or anything animal related for that matter?! If you didn’t think that, why are you in veterinary medicine? JOKES! But seriously- you’re my new best friend. Animal health is not the first thing to come to mind when mentioning international affairs. New Best Friend: I bet you’ve heard of One Health! #highfive  <– Did I use that appropriately? #yes
  6. Download the Citymapper App. Plug in your destination and it will give you all the city smarts to get you where you need to go. – Walk, bus, metro or a combination. Also gives you average Uber and Lyft prices so you can compare the cost of travel for all the ways possible.
  7. The staff at the AVMA GRD are truly invested in you making this experience what you want it and need it to be. Their doors are pretty much always open and some of their drawers are filled with chocolate. They encourage you to experience DC to the fullest – that means networking, attending hearings, seeing the monuments and museums, visiting with legislative staff, state departments, industry, and wherever your meetings take you.
  8. Say yes as much as possible. **Do not use Jim Carey in Yes Man as a reference.


One Response to “FIRST EXTERNS OF THE YEAR: Lessons for those to come”

  1. Thinking Global: Impact through commitment | Externs On the Hill Says:
    March 28th, 2018 at 10:34 am

    […] Lesson #5 of my previous post, I promised to share my thoughts about the hearing; “China in Africa: A […]