Rather than spending Spring Break on the beach, FIU student Barbara Ruiz decided to spend her time this semester pursuing her interest in politics and government. She landed a position as an intern for U.S. Congressman Steven Horsford and describes it as a highlight of her career at FIU.
“Being a first generation Latina woman in my family and going to work at the House of Representatives has changed my life completely,’’ said Ruiz, who is majoring in international relations and political science and hopes to graduate this fall.
“My internship with Congressman Horsford highlighted the importance of teamwork, communication and commitment to improving the lives of the people of our nation.”
Each semester, many of FIU’s best and brightest students pursue their dream to work in politics or government by interning on Capitol Hill, at a variety of federal agencies, non-profit organizations or in the private sector.
During the summer, the “FIU in D.C. Summer Internship Experience” works to help student interns by connecting them with FIU alumni mentors and offering professional development and networking events.
FIU alumna Susan Tapia interned with the State Department in 2011 and credits the FIU in D.C. program with making her feel “at home” in D.C.
“Through the assistance of alumni in the area and the programming I was able to receive career advice and attend resume building events that helped me reach my goals,’’ said Tapia, who will pursue her master’s degree at Stanford University in the fall.
Tapia was recently selected for the prestigious Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program Graduate Fellowship and will intern in D.C. again this summer for the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs.
“My internship at the State Department gave me experience in working for the U.S. government in foreign affairs, and it also gave me direction of where my career is headed,’’ she said.
Spending a semester in D.C. provides interns with exposure to key decisionmakers, agencies and FIU alumni already in the ranks of government and the private sector. They gain valuable experience while building their resumes and making contacts for future career opportunities.
This summer, the D.C. Summer Internship Experience enters its fourth year as a partnership between the Office of Engagement, the Division of Student Affairs, the School of International and Public Affairs, the Office of Governmental Relations and the FIU in D.C. Alumni Chapter. This student-centered program aims to provide interns with the programming, support, mentorship and expertise they need to get the most out of the experience.
Carlos Becerra, director of federal relations for FIU, said internships in D.C. allow students to serve as positive representatives of the university while creating future opportunities for themselves.
“Students who shine at their internships are great ambassadors for the university while they are advancing their opportunities and opening doors through their relationships at federal agencies,” said Becerra, whose team serves as a resource for interns during their time in D.C.
Each semester, FIU works to identify students who are interning in D.C. so that they can connect with FIU alumni in the Capitol who can serve as mentors. It’s also an opportunity for FIU to foster relationships at the agencies hosting FIU student interns.
“Who better than these student ambassadors to share how FIU is World’s Ahead and help advance the university’s profile?” Becerra asked. “We create opportunities for students to learn more about the federal policy arena and include them as valuable partners of our team.”
Michael Padykula, who interned last summer with the Global Giving Foundation, said he was “immersed in the heart of political action of the U.S.’’ and met numerous FIU alumni working on “the Hill.’’
“It was heartening to see the strength and prominence that FIU had on the Hill,’’ said Padykula, now working as an administrative officer with Straight Ahead Construction in Miami. “I was given the opportunity to network with real professionals from FIU that were in fields that I was interested in. Because of my experience I was able to land a great job.’’
“I can’t think of a single day where I didn’t learn something new,’’ he added.
Hugo Hernandez, who interned this spring with the International Union of Operating Engineers, made the decision to move to D.C. for an internship after graduation because he believed it would help with his future career goals.
“Moving to D.C. can be intimidating at first but as soon as you take your first taxi from the airport to wherever you’ll be staying, it hits you, you’re in a completely different realm of opportunity,” he said.
INTERNING IN WASHINGTON, D.C., THIS SUMMER?
Students who will be interning in D.C. this summer are encouraged to visit the DC Summer Experience website and complete a profile. Orientation is scheduled to begin May 20. View the schedule of planned activities for the summer here. For additional information on internships or to search for an internship, visit the Office of Engagement’s Internship Portal.