U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia offers first paid FIU congressional internship

Working as FIU Student Government Vice President his junior year, one of Sanjeev Udhnani’s top priorities was to help fellow students find internships.

“From what I could see, it was all very decentralized and hard to navigate,’’ said Udhnani, who graduated in December with a degree in finance and international business. “The students who found internships, it was because they took the time to do the research and find them.’’

Now, working as an intern in FIU’s Federal Relations Office in D.C., Udhnani has had a hand in creating a new internship opportunity for FIU – a fulltime, paid internship in U.S. Congressman Joe Garcia’s office.

The Democratic representative from Miami-Dade County announced he is looking for an FIU senior or recent graduate to fill the first-ever paid fellowship with his office in D.C.

“This fall, we’re offering a unique opportunity for an FIU student to gain valuable experience by making a difference in our community,’’ said Garcia in a video posted to YouTube. “You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at how government works and a chance to work with some of the brightest, most talented people in our country.’’

The four-month program is designed to give the participant a hands-on experience as part of Garcia’s legislative team.  Ideally, the position could serve as a catalyst for a career on Capitol Hill, said Udhnani.

“This person will be working really closely with the representative’s legislative staff, not just picking up the phone or filing,’’ said Udhnani, who began speaking with Garcia about the position in January. “Here on the Hill, there are a lot of internship opportunities but most are unpaid. This is a great opportunity for someone from FIU, either a senior or a recent graduate. Someone who is politically minded but not necessarily a political science major.’’

Expanding internship opportunities for students – by improving coordination among academic units, private industry, government and community partners – has become a key initiative of FIU’s Office of Engagement. The office is at work on an online portal to more effectively match students with employers.

“Internships are the pathway to success for many of our students,’’ said Dr. Irma Becerra-Fernandez, interim vice president for Engagement. “The hands-on experience, networking and connections that students can gain are truly invaluable.’’

Duties for the post in Garcia’s office will include attending hearings with the congressman on issues ranging from immigration reform to clean energy; conducting research to help shape the congressman’s policy agenda; organizing constituent mail and drafting constituent correspondence; meeting with Florida constituents and stakeholders and drafting memos on legislation and other issues.

The fellowship pays $1,000 a month and runs from Aug. 26 to Nov. 26. Deadline to apply is 5 p.m. on May 15.  Applicants must have or have graduated with a GPA of 3.5 or higher and should include a resume, a one-page cover letter and two references.

To apply, submit all documents electronically to FL26.jobs@mail.house.gov with the subject line “FIU Fellowship.” For additional information, contact Natalie Raps, Congressman Garcia’s internship coordinator at Natalie.Raps@mail.house.gov.

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