By Eric Feldman
While the coronavirus pandemic initially cast uncertainty over summer internship plans, 38 Panthers are nevertheless currently interning with organizations based in the D.C.-area, mostly virtually.
Thanks to the support of Make a Difference-DC scholarship fund and collaboration with national partners, like STEMConnector, the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, and USAgainstAlzheimers, FIU students are still able to make an impact nationally this summer.
Anais Menjivar, a senior studying political science and international relations, is interning for Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (FL-24), where she is working to build bi-partisan support for H.R. 1636, which seeks to establish a Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys and is also sponsored by Senator Marco Rubio in the Senate.
“It feels great to put knowledge from my classes to practical use as I learn how to interpret legislation and synthesize key ideas, while addressing disparities in education, health, and the criminal justice system,” said Menjivar.
Rose Lopez, a graduate student in the creative writing MFA program, edited and contributed to the publicity strategy of a recent report released by her internship host, Pay Our Interns. The report highlights the lack of racial diversity among interns in Congress and has been featured on NBC News and in Teen Vogue. Just last week, the House of Representatives moved on recommendations to collect intern demographic data and continuing funding for paid internships.
Outside of their worksite responsibilities, current and aspiring D.C. interns attended FIU in DC’s Summer Impact Series of virtual professional development events, which included career advice from a senior executive in the U.S. Department of Commerce and a high-powered discussion of voting rights ahead of the 2020 elections in partnership with the Brennan Center for Justice, German Marshall Fund, and Issue One. All of these event recordings are available at The Talent Lab.
Another D.C. educational program that has gone virtual this summer is the third annual installment of the Effective Governmental Communications course hosted by FIU in DC, the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy, and the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs. Taught this year by the president of the FIU Alumni Association Mike Hernandez, a seasoned public affairs practitioner, guest speakers this summer have included former Congressman Joe Garcia, agency officials from the State Department, Trump and Biden campaign advisers, and Alex Burgos, the new director of policy communications for Facebook.
Spotted this week in D.C. (virtually):
Alumni John Barsa, acting administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development and Carlos Castillo, acting deputy administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, speaking at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Building Resilience Through Public-Private Partnerships Conference.