UCDC Collage of students
Clockwise from left: Fulbright Scholar and recent UCI grad Eliza Collison stands in front of the U.S. Capitol during her summer internship in Washington, D.C. Interns Vivian Cheong of UCI, Hanling Petredean of Harvard University and Eliza Collison of UCI (from left) enjoy a Fourth of July concert at the Capitol. UCI’s Jasmin Del Castillo and fellow intern Christopher Hart of Wesleyan University flank Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Fourth of July fireworks burst over the Washington Monument. Courtesy of Eliza Collison and Jasmin Del Castillo

This summer, 48 Anteaters traveled to our nation’s capital to participate in the UCDC Internship Program, in which undergraduates and new grads explore career options in Washington government offices, nonprofits and special interest groups. UC Irvine’s Career Center has for the past 32 years assisted in placing students in these coveted 10-week internships. Here, a few of the current cadre talk about the unique experiential learning opportunity.

Miguel Castro, senior history major and U.S. Navy veteran

Internship description: My internship is as a junior fellow at the Library of Congress. I work in the Hispanic Division and Hispanic Reading Room under the tutelage of Mexican specialist Barbara Tenenbaum. Currently, my job is adding sections of interest to a page on the Library of Congress website on the Mexican Revolution. As a history major with minors in Latin American studies and Chicano/Latino studies, I will be contributing pieces to the website on the role of immigration and indigenous people in the Mexican Revolution.

Highlights: I’ve learned through my internship that the Library of Congress is a research facility that’s more than books and exhibits. It has different media collections that it provides to the public, such as its film and photography collections. Through its many divisions and departments, your research can be enhanced and multifaceted. The most interesting aspect is that it’s all open to the public and free.

Inspiration: Interning at the Library of Congress has expanded the possibilities for my future scholarly endeavors. When I return, I will be applying to Ph.D. programs in history. Having this opportunity to see how my studies are applied in a government institution brings great satisfaction. In addition, I realized that there are other careers that can be explored by having a history base. I’ve been looking into also being an archivist and pursuing a master’s degree in archival studies.

D.C. life: My favorite thing about Washington, D.C., is the pace. It’s faster, and everything is accessible to you. The city reeks of history; what’s not to like about Washington? It has its drawbacks, though: I haven’t found decent Mexican food here.

Global reach: I believe that the Library of Congress is not just limiting itself to the American public but targeting the international community. The Mexican Revolution website is one example of how the Library of Congress is reaching beyond U.S. borders to gauge interest in scholarship abroad. I’m just happy to be part of the team.

Eliza Collison ’14 (international studies), 2014 Fulbright Scholar

Internship description: My internship is with a nonprofit called Innovation in Civic Participation, which works in the field of youth civic engagement. They believe that well-structured youth service programs can help young people develop skills for future employment and active citizenship. In my position, I assist in both short-term and long-term projects that work on partnering with other institutions to implement youth service programs. For example, I helped find contacts in Japan to promote a workshop we’ll hold in Tokyo on getting Japanese universities involved in volunteer programs. Other short-term projects are blog posts and regular website maintenance.

Future goals: After my Fulbright program in the fall, I want to attend graduate school in Washington, D.C., and earn a master’s in foreign service/international relations. Eventually, I want to pursue a career in the Foreign Service. I actually plan on living in D.C., so having an internship in this city gives me the exposure I need to the D.C. life.

Lessons learned: This internship has reassured me that attending graduate school and working in D.C. is a goal I still want to achieve. I really enjoy the environment of the city and how it has a variety of professions in the public and private sector. This is my first experience working in a nonprofit; however, I know I can always explore other types of careers.

D.C. life: There is always something to do! I would take a visitor to the monuments at night, when it cools down. Plus, the monuments look more beautiful at night, in my opinion.

Good work: Recently, my organization finished a two-year program that offered technical training to university faculty and staff, giving them the tools to strengthen civic engagement programs on their campuses. They were able to secure funding from the Pearson Foundation to carry out this program successfully. I’m just amazed how nonprofits like the one I intern for can always find funding and create successful programs.

Jasmin Del Castillo, junior political science major

Internship description: I’m in the U.S. Department of Commerce in the Office of the Secretary [Penny Pritzker], where I work directly under the deputy chief of staff [Stephanie Valencia] and senior adviser [Kate McAdams]. My duties range from working on Excel projects to attending meetings and working on memos.

D.C. highlights: I love D.C. It’s so exciting to come to work every day. My top moments have been watching Fourth of July fireworks over the National Mall, celebrating the World Cup with Colombian and Brazilian fans, and singing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner” with a crowd gathered at the Washington Monument.

Latino leadership: The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute is working to build the next generation of Latino leaders. My internship was made possible thanks to its development program. Government is my thing; I’m learning to negotiate and be an advocate for small businesses. There’s something very patriotic about it. I know for sure that I’ll come back to D.C. after I graduate. I want to work on the Hill – I have the drive, and I want to keep learning.

UCI mentors: None of this would have been possible without my mentors at UC Irvine, from Bob Gomez and Michelle Foley at the Career Center to professor Matthew Beckmann in the Department of Political Science. He sparked the political fire in me, and working with him on his research really prepared me too.

International business: A big part of my internship was to help organize the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, which brought business leaders from Africa to the U.S. to strengthen economic ties and increase trade and investment in Africa. I researched the companies and kept track of participating organizations.