The City with the Hill
Washington, D.C., nation's capital and political nerve center, is a diverse and lively city recommended for its dynamic job market, livable neighborhoods, and copious cultural resources.
Washington, D.C., is nothing if not a government town, but the nation's capital is also much more. Alongside the pundits and politicos, people of every stripe work and play in this city as rich in art, greenery, and nightlife as it is in political intrigue.
Despite some rocky moments - including devastating race riots in 1968 - the world's first planned capital now thrives as an eminently livable locale. Among its assets are appealing neighborhoods; reliable public transportation; free world-class museums; one of the largest urban parks in the country; and annual events such as July 4th celebrations and the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Young people are integral to the fabric of district life, as they hold the majority of jobs that make the wheels of this city turn and maintain the diverse vitality of its recreation and nightlife. While much of the work recent graduates do involves assisting the city's power brokers - whether in government, nonprofit, law, or other industries - there are ample opportunities to distinguish oneself professionally, pursue career advancement, and contribute to effective change.
D.C. is a relatively small city, easy to navigate, and good for walking. An efficient Metro system goes to many areas, and a network of bus lines covers the remainder. Metro fares are graduated by distance, so in central areas travel is affordable.
You do not need a car, particularly with the wide availability of car-sharing programs such as Flexcar and Zipcar. Bike riders are not abundant, although some roads now have bike lanes.
Right smack in the middle of the east coast, Washington is purposely not northern or southern, and the local lingo reflects that. The accents run the gamut in America's capital, with representatives from all over the country. There is, however, a vocabulary of words specific only to people in DC, many of whom have government jobs in addition to proximity to The Hill (where the federal buildings are) in common.
The Hill is also used as a metonym to refer to Congress as a body and its goings-on. You might hear phrases such as "the Hill is dithering on this issue", or "I have to go testify on the Hill today", meaning speak before Congress as an expert on a certain issue.
To understand anything going on in DC, you need a basic vocabulary of government acronyms. It is alphabet soup in this town, and a knowing a few letter-combinations will keep you from confusion. These are some of the most frequently used: DOJ (Department of Justice), DOD (Department of Defense), DOS or "State" (State Department, not "Department of State"), USAID (US Agency for International Development), USDA (US Department of Agriculture), DHS (Department of Homeland Security), DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), EPA (Environmental Protection Agency).
Staffers are the people who work in the offices of Congress, doing research, public relations, campaigning, administration, scheduling, and other tasks necessary for the work of governing the country. Each Senator, Representative, and congressional committee has an office manned by these staffers, who tend to be young, ambitious, poorly paid, and willing to work long hours.
Several blocks south of Dupont Circle is a street with a reputation that precedes it. Some may remember K Street from the 2003 HBO show of that name, which focused on the power-brokering action of the many think tanks, lobbyists, and law firms that reside here. The term "K Street" serves as a metonym for the lobbying industry, as in "K Street has been pushing this bill forward from the start."
The Beltway, also known as I-495, is a highway that circles the city, cutting through the suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. Referring to something as "inside the beltway" means either that it is located in DC or that it is related to federal politics and political culture. The chronically congested "outer-loop" and "inner-loop" refer to the lanes going either direction-guess which is which.
• Federal Government-all branches
• Washington Post
• Gallup Organization
What do you love about working here?
There is always something happening, always a lecture or show.
Knox College and Indiana University, Editor