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Networking in D.C.: Panthers in the nation’s capital


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

FIU student interns are not only making a roar locally, they are gaining real-world experience and making their presence known in the nation’s capital. A number of outstanding students and alumni have visited Washington D.C. to work for a host of federal agencies and offices. This past summer was an exciting time for 35 panthers who interned for more than 20 different federal agencies and organizations.

Now in its third summer, the D.C. Summer Internship Experience affords D.C.-based summer interns an opportunity to be mentored by notable FIU alumni and benefit from specialized programming and networking opportunities.

DC Intern Breakfast

President Mark B. Rosenberg enjoying breakfast with D.C. interns.

The summer started with an orientation event, hosted by William “Willy” Ramos, the director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Commerce. Additional activities included a visit to the Democratic National Committee headquarters with FIU Alumna Kate Houghton as well as the National Response Coordination Center at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) facilities. In addition, FIU’s interns were able to witness the legislative process and how alumni are contributing to it.

“FIU students who participate in DC internships are afforded a unique opportunity given FIU’s strong relations with congressional delegations and access to a large alumni network,” said Bill Couch, a Federal Affairs coordinator for Miami-Dade County and mentor to several students. He added that “the benefit that a student intern receives cannot be overstated.”

Now an annual tradition, student interns also enjoyed breakfast with President Mark B. Rosenberg during one of his visits to the capital before helping cheer on the South Florida Congressional delegation at its annual charity softball game.

Notable Interns:

Eric Trujillo, United States Patent and Trademark Office

Eric Trujillo

Eric Trujillo is working on a bachelor’s in computer engineering at FIU. He interned at the United States Patent and Trademark Office as an examiner extern. He reviewed four patent applications during his eight week stay covering topics from cellphone communications to computer networking. He also had the opportunity to meet with examiners from various fields and learned how an invention becomes a protected patent. He believes his work and experience has given him a better understanding in the field of research and development as well as patent law.

Juliet Haydar, U.S. House of Representative, Office of Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart

Juliet Haydar

Juliet Haydar is a senior at FIU, majoring in international relations. Haydar interned at the Office of Representative Mario-Diaz Balart. She attended Capitol briefings and prepared reports for Rep. Diaz-Balart’s congressional staff in foreign affairs, health care, small business and financial services. Throughout the summer, she interacted with the constituents of Florida’s 25th district by developing a visitors’ guide to Washington, D.C., drafting constituent correspondence letters and coordinating tours of Washington, D.C. with constituents. She credits her education at FIU for preparing her professionally and for providing her with access to the university’s extensive network of staff and alumni who assisted her throughout her internship.

“The summer internship in Congress ignited a passion in me for public service. It was an honor to work for Congressman Diaz-Balart, his staff and the great constituents of Florida’s 25th district,” she said. Juliet is currently finishing her last semester at FIU and interning at the French Consulate in Miami. She plans on returning to D.C. after graduation.

Rosario Vidales, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Rosario Vidales

Rosario Vidales is an agroecology student, majoring in environmental studies at FIU. She is interning at the Belltsville Agricultural Research Station in Maryland. Mahadev Bhat, co-director of FIU’s Agroecology Program said, “[Vidales] is a very dynamic student, who is very active in research and co-curricular activities. This is her second year interning with USDA. She is also working with one of our faculty members, Dr. Hong Liu, on horticultural plants during the regular semesters. We are very proud of her!”

For more information on the DC experience contact federal@fiu.edu.

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