My internship with the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

Name: Lucas Cabral

Major: International Relations, Political Science, Italian Language & Culture (Minor)

Where are you interning? National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators

What is your title? Policy Intern

How did you get your internship? Through the help of The Washington Center program

What projects have you worked on? My work schedule involves policy research from all 50 states and how to better help communities around the U.S. through the help of the 401 legislators in the caucus. In the NHCSL I focus on education, immigration, human rights, civil rights, infrastructure and criminal justice public policy.

I am also tasked with creating resolutions for major areas of concern in communities nationwide. These resolutions are presented at NHCSL executive committee meetings and are discussed for them to be proposed to legislatures nationwide to influence bills passed through the legislative assembly.

How does your internship connect to your current coursework? Having first-hand experience on policy work that can help communities throughout the United States has been made easier with the critical thinking skills and the analytical writing styles taught throughout my courses. A prominent example from this summer experience was the knowledge learned on how to better create briefings and the correct method to express oneself on paper as it is different from an academic report. My internship involved substantial resolution briefing that will be presented to legislators, and thanks to ISS4385, I can better execute my work.

What was the coolest thing that has happened thus far in your internship?

Another prominent moment was during the attempted passing of H.R. 1628, The American Health Care Act of 2017. On Friday, July 28, 2017, around 11 p.m., all my close friends were hanging about in my dorm discussing topics ranging from politics to who left their dirty dish on the table. Amidst all that a friend of mine tuned in to a live stream on her phone of a protest happening right outside the Senate building and announced it to the entire room. We unanimously decided to go in a matter of seconds and stormed out of the room. When we arrived, Senator Al Franken was in front of the crowd outside, speaking of the importance of the bill’s failure. He promptly went back to the Senate to vote on the bill. Meanwhile, protesters waited in line to express their concern about the future of the ACA in America.

After several hours, the bill did not pass and the crowd erupted in a frenzy of joy. A few minutes later, Senators Chuck Schumer, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Kamala Harris and several others rushed outside to express their relief to the crowd. When Elizabeth Warren finished speaking, she asked the crowd, “Who wants a selfie?” and she rushed into the horde of people. I waited for the crowd to dissipate around her before approaching her. When the time came, I mind-blowingly had a conversation with Elizabeth Warren. Even though it was 40 seconds, I was in awe. I was having a 1-on-1 conversation with a United States senator at 3 a.m.! I snagged a great picture with her before she left. After a while my friends and I returned home in shock over the wonderful experience we had just been through.

What do you enjoy most about your experience? Having the ability to utilize my knowledge and ambition in a field of work I’ve never done before was exhilarating. My expectations prior to arriving in D.C. were high, but in the 10 weeks here I went above and beyond what I expected.

What have you learned about yourself? During my course of work in my internship, I was too independent when it came to completing work and receiving constructive criticism from my peers. However, I’ve realized my mistakes and come to a realization that my work will never be perfect and I will need advice from others at times – and that’s okay. With the help of my supervisors at NHCSL, I realized that in order to delve into the field of politics, I couldn’t do it alone. With the help of my peers and colleagues — and having an open mind — I will better excel in my career.

How has the position increased your professional confidence? My confidence has skyrocketed, and I’m ambitiously awaiting my return home to utilize my confidence and skills to better help my community.

How have you expanded your professional network?  With the help of my advisors in my internship, TWC advisors and events provided by the FIU D.C. Office, I’ve been able to network with local professionals.

What advice do you have for those beginning the internship process? Unwaveringly take any opportunity that comes your way. D.C. is a city filled with ambitious people, all wanting to make a change in their community, and only you can hold yourself back given the countless opportunities the city has to offer.

FIU in D.C. is working with more than 50 students interning in the nation’s capital this summer. The office has planned several networking programs and continues to serve as a resource for the students as they gain real-world experience in the city. To learn more about the opportunities available with FIU in D.C., visit the office’s website.