Interested in participating in the Miami-Dade County Executive Internship program? The mayor’s office will host its first of several information sessions Monday at 2 p.m. on BBC.
When Daniella Romero, FIU Class of 2012, applied for a 15-week internship program with Miami-Dade County, she had no idea she was setting herself up for a future career in county government.
Not long after completing the program, Romero, who majored in political science, was hired as an administrative specialist for the county’s community information and outreach office, where she assists with marketing and advertising projects.
She said the county’s executive internship program gave her the insight and experience she needed to land a fulltime county job.
“The mayor’s internship was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences that I’ve had at FIU,’’ Romero said. “All the networking opportunities and everything that I learned about how county works definitely got me as far as I’ve gotten today.’’
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and FIU President Mark Rosenberg launched the executive internship program in June 2012. Since then, more than 50 students have completed the program, with at least five being offered full-time positions with the county.
The program is open to juniors, seniors and graduate students with a grade point average of at least 3.0. Students who are accepted into the program are assigned to specific county departments, working 20-25 hours a week under the supervision of a department director. The interns have weekly meetings with the mayor, deputy mayors or top department directors.
“We got to interact one-on-one with the top county leadership,’’ said Catherine Vega, who graduated with a degree in psychology and hopes to one day work in government or higher education. “They were so open to our questions. And many of them were FIU alumni. It was so funny to hear “Go Panthers!” during a meeting.’’
The program was created to offer students a behind-the-scenes look at county government and give them the experience needed to become future leaders in county or city government, said Fernando Figueredo, director of communications and external affairs for the mayor’s office.
“Mayor Gimenez wanted to find a solution to keeping our best and brightest students in Miami,’’ he said. “The experience working with FIU has been excellent. And the students have really been superstars.’’
Raul Mas, Jr., who will graduate this year with a master’s in public administration, was hired as a property evaluator in the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office after completing the internship program in December.
He said getting a first-hand look at how county government works was eye-opening. Students took tours of numerous county departments and facilities, including the Port of Miami, Miami International Airport, Miami Metro Zoo and Jackson Memorial Hospital. They were placed into teams and given specific projects to complete, such as developing promotional videos for the county or identifying ways to increase the number of adoptions through the animal services department.
“The internship did a great job of giving us a preview of what the public sector field is asking for,’’ Mas said. “I got to understand government a lot more and what the county is looking for in its employees.’’
Networking with county leaders can provide great insight for students looking to work in the public sector, said Irma Becerra-Fernandez, vice president of the Office of Engagement, which oversees the program for FIU.
“It’s an extraordinary chance to learn the inner workings of our local government,’’ she said. “The county has benefitted as well from the insight our students bring, in terms of new innovations, social media and quantitative research. I wish I was a student again so I could apply.’’
The deadline to apply for the fall internship program is July 23. The mayor’s office will host several information sessions on FIU campuses next week. The first will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday in Wolfe University Center, Room 255 on the Biscayne Bay campus. Two more are scheduled for noon and 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Graham Center, Room 241A, on the Modesto Maidique campus. On-campus interviews will be held in the Career Services office on July 29, 30 and 31.
For more information on the program, contact Career Services at 305-348-2423. To apply, visit https://fiu-csm.symplicity.com/ and enter job identification number 739895.