Networking in D.C.

This article is part of our Summer Sojourns 2012 series highlighting summer adventures of FIU students

At the close of summer, 50 Panthers wrapped up impactful internships in our nation’s capital that also allowed them to spread the Worlds Ahead brand and advance our research mission. These students and recent alumni served at more than 30 agencies – non-profits – on Capitol Hill,  and yes, even at the White House. In several cases, these opportunities were made possible through partnerships between FIU and federal research agencies.

“My internship experience in Washington, D.C., has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life as I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in the country,” said Jorge Fernandez, an MBA student who interned at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The university is seeking to increase the number of federal internships for its students at a time when the federal government is carrying out an executive order that calls for the diversification of the federal workforce. For the third summer in a row, the Office of Governmental Relations coordinated the D.C. Summer Internship Experience to enhance the experience of FIU student interns while engaging them in advancing the university’s federal agenda.

Outside of their work experiences, the interns participated in an orientation and federal briefing at FIU’s Washington, D.C., office; breakfast on Capitol Hill with FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and four members of Congress; a Foreign Affairs briefing at the State Department; and a special tour of the White House, arranged by our own alumnus Frederick Pfaeffle, principal deputy general counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many of the students were also able to find mentors and professional guides, thanks in part to the efforts of the  FIU in D.C. Alumni Chapter, which arranged for various mentorship connections. The alumni chapter also made sure there was time for fun, hosting a welcome alumni mixer, chapter barbecue, and an outing at Nationals Stadium for the Florida Marlins vs. Nationals game.

“It’s always a pleasure to help the next generation of public servants in our own small way. Once again, this summer’s interns prove that our alma mater will be a player in the arena,” said Pedro Pavón ’04, FIU Alumni Association Board member and, up until recently, counsel to the assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice.

This year’s program was a success thanks, in part, to the support of the Offices of Undergraduate Studies, Engagement, Career Services and the Division of External Relations. Special thanks to Federal Relations Intern Patrick O’Keefe who coordinated this year’s activities.

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Below some of our student interns share their experience in their own words.

Jorge Fernandez – Census Bureau Internship through HACU
Fernandez is an International MBA student and worked at the Census Office of Economic Planning and Innovation where he helped prepare and promote the 2012 Economic Census. Some of his charges included working on market research dealing with trade associations that help promote the Economic Census and creating print and online material that promotes census data for financial decision-making processes and allocation of resources. Fernandez believes his time at FIU gave him practical experience as the university instills an entrepreneurial mindset in all students. He hopes that his experiences this summer will lead to employment opportunities with the U.S. Department of State.

Rigoberto Roche – NASA WaterSCAPES Fellow
Roche is a recent FIU graduate, receiving his master’s in biomedical engineering, but he will be continuing his FIU education as he seeks a second master’s in mechanical engineering. He interned this summer at NASA Goddard Space validating satellite models in relation to rainfall estimates. Aside from his work, he also had the opportunity to meet astronauts, see launches and learn about the diverse work done by NASA. He believes that his work experience with NASA will lead to long-term employment and eventually lead to his goal of starting his own business to create software for medical devices. This opportunity was made possible by a grant through NASA WaterSCAPES, facilitated by FIU.

Mildred Boveda, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs
Boveda is a doctoral student in the College of Education focused on special education policy. She was able to focus on that this summer working at the Office of Special Education Programs, where she was assisting in monitoring discretionary special education grants. Interactions with several mentors and policy-makers helped complement her experience in the field as a teacher in Miami’s urban schools. Encouraging other students to embark on an internship experience, Mildred said, “There are some things you just can’t get from a textbook, you have to live it.” She credits her mentor and doctoral professor Dr. Linda Blanton with helping lead the federally funded Project EDUCATE, which also made her internship possible.

Charlyn Stanberry – American Health Lawyers Association Legal Intern; George Washington University, Department of Health Policy
Stanberry is a third-year law student at FIU College of Law. This summer she  interned at the AHLA, where she assisted the vice president of professional resources and vice president of public interest with research and case summaries. At GW,  she assisted with their Health Info Law Database. Stanberry enjoyed that her opinion was viewed very highly and that she was able to make an impact in both organizations. She enjoyed her time in D.C. and hopes to move back in the future.

Janty Ghazi – Department of Energy Fellow
Ghazi is an electrical engineering graduate student with an undergraduate degree from FIU in electrical engineering. He participated in the Department of Energy Fellowship program, where he was placed in the Environmental Management Office. He received the internship through his work at the Applied Research Center in the DOE Fellows program, funded by DOE, which is a national model. Ghazi worked in DOE headquarters with decision makers to manage various environmental remediation projects. Janty believes that FIU has provided him multiple outstanding internship and networking opportunities that will help him as he moves forward with his career.

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