My internship at the Department of Labor

Bryan Benitez-3Name: Bryan Benitez

Year and major: Senior, criminal justice major, Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs

Hometown: Miami

Where you interned: U.S. Department of Labor in Arlington, Virginia (summer 2016)

What did you do there? 
I worked at one of the 29 agencies of the Department of Labor, an investigative agency called the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. OFCCP works with federal contractors to ensure that they’re abiding by equal employment opportunity and affirmative action policies. We investigate matters that include but are not limited to harassment (both sexual and non-sexual), gender, race, disability and military status discrimination.

I conducted face-to-face interviews as well as interviews via phone and then summarized each interview statement. I translated documents from Spanish to English and did a variety of other tasks: data entry, answering the office phone, making case folders, helping in outreach events, among others.

How did your work connect back to your studies?
The investigation experience I received was invaluable. I was always aware, because of prior psychology courses I took, that bias can play a huge role in the investigation process and so I was keen to deliver my questions as neutrally as possible.

What was the best part of the internship?
Living in our nation’s capital was one of the best parts about the whole experience. There are so many historic sites everywhere that it’s a bit shocking at first. One of the pivotal moments I had was getting a tour of the J. Edgar Hoover building, headquarters of the FBI.

How did you get the internship?
I secured the internship by applying to The Washington Center, which helps student from around the world gain valuable experience by matching them to an opportunity that matches their interests. I heard about the Washington Center because they had an info session here at FIU, I wasn’t able to attend but I knew they had a website and so I went and applied online.

The internship program with The Washington Center was phenomenal. It is the whole package. Advocacy, leadership, team building, public speaking and civic engagement are just some of the skills you develop and expand upon.

What advice do you have for other students who are either looking for internships or who wish to get the most out of an internship?
To never stop applying to internships, keep your windows open and apply to multiple internships just in case you don’t get the one you ultimately want. Go to different websites to look for internships, show up in person if you can and speak with an employee/recruiter, and most important of all NETWORK. Networking is really important because that’s how you get your name out there and into the minds of recruiters. If you do get an internship, understand that you are there to work and learn as much as you can, take advantage of the opportunity and give it all you’ve got.

How did the experience impact your career goals?
The internship helped me realize that law school is not a route I am willing to take, but at the same time it opened other doors I had never considered looking into. I am already in the Navy, so after I earn my degree, I am looking to apply for Officer Candidate School.

Meet other interns at the FIU in D.C. blog.