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Government Internships

Federal Branches, Departments, and Agencies

Deborah Jeong - Department of State


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2019

Major: International Studies - Political Science

Your favorite or most memorable part of your internship: I interned at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and had the opportunity to participate in meetings with several foreign partners and interagency partners. One of my favorite memories during my internship was reaching out to State Department officials for coffee chats and having the opportunity to professionally network, but also connect with people in DC! 

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: UCDC is located in Dupont Circle, which is the very center of the city. Because of this proximity, I did my best to walk to my internship, and when I did, I walked past the White House on my commute!

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: I am pursuing a career in the U.S. Foreign Service. This internship was instrumental in cementing this career goal for me, as well as offering me a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of government work. The people I met, the work I helped to accomplish, and the confidence I built throughout my 10-week internship has fueled by passions and inspired me to pursue this career!

People who have been to the State Department will recognize the picture as the C-Street entrance, or the Hall of Flags!

Xiangdi (Emily) Zhang - Office of Congressman Salud Carbajal


UCDC Cohort: Spring 2019

Major: International Studies

After graduation, she hopes to continue her international work and start a venture group that will invest in transnational social innovations. “The six years I’ve spent away from home has taught me the importance of community building,” said Zhang. “I want my venture group to empower those who are already doing great things in their community and also incentivize those who dive into the world of social innovation.”

Jasmine Lin - Department of State


UCDC Cohort: Winter 2018

Major: Political Science - International Relations

Your favorite or most memorable part of your internship: I was interning at the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and I worked with the professional exchange program. I had the pleasure to attend many of our project openings, which allowed me to interact with international visitors including government officials and professionals from various fields from all over the world. It was a wonderful experience to share insights and thoughts with people from different backgrounds while enjoying a good meal. 

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: Did you know DC is missing the J Street? (I didn't, I looked it up) Also, UCDC is located in one of the best parts of the city, and easily accessible to, well, basically everything!

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: Looking to work abroad for a year and heading to the legislative branch for some policy changes in the future!

Attached is a picture of me on the last day of my internship. I was on the eighth floor of the Harry S Truman Building of the State Department, on the Secretaries of State Terrace which has a beautiful view overlooking DC.

Jenna Goosen - Office of Senator Dianne Feinstein


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2018

Major: Political Science - International Relations

Your favorite or most memorable part of your internship: 

I actually got to sit-in on the Kavanaugh vote, so that was super memorable. I was there for the Kavanaugh protests. I was pretty much there for the Kavanaugh week. I watched the protests with Elizabeth Warren, that was super cool. 

I was there for the midterms, which was also really fun. Just kind of hanging out after work and seeing the whole city celebrate the elections. 

Fun fact about DC or UCDC:

Trader Joe’s. I just spent my day off walking all the way to Trader Joe’s. That walkthrough Logan’s Circle is the best people-watching spot in the city. It is a half-mile away so no one wants to walk there but it is such a good walk, highly recommend it.

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals:

I hope to be an analyst for the Department of Defense or the Department of State, but I hope to work on the Hill for a few years afterward now. I would say that my UCDC experience changed my entire life trajectory for the better, it opened up so many opportunities for me. 

Mishelle Arakelian - House Judiciary Committee


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2018

Major: Political Science - American Politics

During my time in D.C, I interned on Capitol Hill for the Democratic side of the House Judiciary Committee. I assisted our attorneys by conducting research projects, attending bill markups, and facilitating the workflow of different subcommittees. I also helped the committee prepare for hearings and testimonies. I also got the chance to met the former FBI Director James Comey after a closed-door session of our committee!

Nicki Guivatchian - Department of Justice


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2018

Major: Political Science

Favorite or most memorable part of your internship: Working with attorneys who were so passionate about civil rights and likeminded. Also, living in DC at such a heated time in politics made for a fast paced, exciting quarter.  

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: I got to sit in on a Supreme Court oral argument and see some of my role models in the flesh! 

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: Law school, I think that the UCDC internship program allowed me to see what government work within civil rights looks like and how the laws can be interpreted to either help or hurt different minority groups. 

Caroline Lee - Office of Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15)


UCDC Cohort: Spring 2017

Major: Communication

Your favorite or most memorable part of your internship:

I have a lot of enjoyable memories from this internship. 

  1. One of my favorite parts of the internship was giving tours of the U.S. Capitol Building. In case you were planning to visit DC, just know that the Capitol gets crazy during spring break time! It was amazing to walk through the halls and see the people that you see on TV and in the news, but it was really great getting to meet others from the area that I grew up in. 
  2. I was also lucky enough to get a chance to visit the White House on multiple occasions - once for the White House Easter Egg Roll and once to guide some of our constituents through a White House tour. There is so much history and tradition there and it was great to be a part of it.
  3. One unique part of Congressional internships is getting to go to briefings. Staffers are invited to more events than they can attend, so they pass the invitation on to their interns. Because of my interest in education, I attended briefings about topics like student lunch programs and higher education affordability and accessibility. It was really interesting to see what was being done in Washington, and it gave me a great opportunity to work on my writing skills, as I had to summarize the event and make suggestions for the staffer in a memo. 

Fun fact about DC or UCDC:

If you are ever thinking about visiting DC, make reservations with your local representative! I did not know this prior to working on the Hill, but your local representative can help you reserve tours for the U.S. Capitol, the State Department, the Library of Congress, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, and others. Just plan ahead - all of the Congressional offices are vying for the same spots, so availability goes fast, especially for the White House!

The Capitol building is not at the center of DC, but it is the point from which streets and quadrants are laid out. DC has four quadrants, so the same street may exist in multiple quadrants. I speak from experience when I say to make sure that you pay attention to which quadrant you are in!

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals:

I hope to pursue a career in advertising and marketing. While my internship was not directly related to my career goal, it did give me a better understanding of the role that the government plays in that industry. In addition, I had the chance to strengthen skills that are desired across all industries. Specifically, I worked on professional conduct, written and oral communication, and time management. And I learned the importance of anticipating problems before they happen and asking for clarification when instructions are unclear. Since coming back from DC, I have kept my Congressional internship on my resume because along with demonstrating competence in some essential skills, it stands out to employers and is something that they want to talk about.


UCDC was a really amazing experience and I am so glad that I participated in the program. Not only did my internship strengthen some key professional skills, but it also gave me the chance to travel and meet some amazing people. I highly recommend this program to all students. No matter what you are interested in, you will get the chance to learn more about yourself and what you want to do after college.

Adán Chávez - Office of Congressman Jimmy Gomez

UCDC Cohort: Fall 2017

Major: Political Science and Spanish

"It was truly such a pleasure to serve as a Congressional Intern for the U.S House of Representatives. As a Congressional Intern, I supported our office in serving one of the most diverse districts in the United States. I had the opportunity to prepare legislative approval forms for education-related bills, research laws that affect workers’ safety and engage our constituents on pressing issues. One of the experiences I enjoyed the most was learning how to advance policies that benefit working and migrant families, just like mine. I am extremely indebted to anyone who played a role in making my experience in the largest legislative-making body in our country such a positive one. Thank you especially to UCDC and AIP for making it possible! 

Jose Rosales - Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2017

Major: Political Science - International Studies

During my internship, I was able to engage in constituent services and legislative affairs. I wrote memoranda for Senate staff on various issues affecting New Yorkers. I made lifelong friends throughout my internship, all the while enjoying the history and beauty that Washington, DC is known for. Though I interned in the Senate, perhaps my favorite part of my DC experience was the many times I visited the building right across the street — the Supreme Court of the United States. I was able to attend oral arguments and witness firsthand the work of the third branch of government. All in all, this was an incredible experience and one I surely will never forget.

Nitzana Alzalde - U.S. Department of Justice


UCDC Cohort: Winter 2018

Major: Political Science & Ethnic Studies

What did you do in DC? Internship?

US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Immigrant Rights

What was the application like for a federal internship?

Very informal, only one I submitted

They contacted me super quickly, like 2 days later for a phone interview

It was sending in a resume, cover letter, and writing sample that was like 3-6 pages

The interview was 30 min on phone with one of the attorneys

It’s difficult with phone interviews because you can’t gauge their expressions

What did you use for the writing sample?

I ended up using a writing sample from my ethnic studies class that focused on gender discrimination in the workforce in the global south

I thought maybe I shouldn’t use this writing sample because it kept saying that the govt. was at fault

Previous experiences?

Superior court of South County San Diego in Chula Vista

Volunteer for organization Justice Corps. I think that this internship experience really helped me with the internship at the DOJ. My job here on campus here helped as well. 

What are your professional goals?

I am currently looking to pursue law school specifically in the immigration field, so I definitely want to become an immigration attorney in the future. Everything about removal proceedings and representing marginalized folks in courts is exciting to me. 

In what ways do you think the internship or UCDC helped you achieve your professional goals?

Working at the DOJ really solidified these goals, especially because I was working with attorneys all day. Everyone in the office was mentoring me, so I was having the chance to sit in on the way they interview people for their declarations, the types of questions that they asked to get the information that they were looking for. I got to sit in on sessions with ICE, the Department of Homeland Security - the very big names involved right now with immigration who have the power to make all these changes. It was nice seeing what’s being done right now in the immigration field and what they are going to do. Just listening to that was an experience for sure. But on top of that, the work that I was doing really helped. I wasn’t just seeing what they were doing, I was also being a part of it. I would have to make notes based on interviews, I would have to do legal research even though I wasn’t a law student. I also got to proofread a lot of memos that the attorneys would write - again just being exposed to legal writing and how precise they are with their writing.

Tell me a little bit more about time outside of the internship.

I am actually from San Diego and I go to UCSD so I don’t have that experience that other students have where you leave your home and you go to another city for college. I felt like I needed to go somewhere else to have that experience, and I thought that with UCDC I could find that. I also considered study abroad, but I thought that UCDC would give me a lot more in terms of adding stuff to my resume and professional development. On top of that, I also felt like the personal growth that people feel when they go abroad because like I said I had never left home for college and I got that experience through UCDC. It was hard, I did feel homesick. There is so much to do in the city - there are free museums, free events, talks with politicians. The states are so small on the East Coast that within 20 min, you’ll be in Virginia. Traveling also helped me get out of my comfort zone. Having students from all over the UCs really helped me feel at home. We’re all in the same position, everything was new for us. It was great to really go through that together. I ended up loving DC - the first two weeks I was really hesitant...I felt like I was missing out at home. I started realizing that...I am experiencing new things every day. This is more exciting. I ended up loving DC. It was hard to be interning full time and then having classes in the evening, but it really did prepare me for a full-time job. As I am applying to full-time jobs now I hear a lot of my friends being intimidated by the work schedule and trying to figure out how to have a work-life balance but I feel like I already went through that with UCDC and I’m not really worried. 

So what are you planning to do next?

As of right now, I am really open to anything, but ideally, I would like to work at a law firm to continue that exposure to how attorney-client relationships develop, how attorneys fill out legal forms, just their overall thinking process - I just want to keep getting exposed to that. Although I pretty much solidified my plans of going to law school, I want to keep exploring different fields of law. I feel like all of my experiences are toward immigration law, but I could end up liking corporate law, I could end up liking employment law. I could end up liking different fields of law, so I am still trying to dive into different fields of law and hopefully a full-time job. 

Favorite moments? At internship? On weekends? Class?

I took the Supreme Court class, so my favorite moment is related to that. As part of my grade for that class...we had to write a report on a Supreme Court case that was argued during that term. And I actually was extremely surprised because…backtrack...For my ethnic studies writing series my third year, I wrote about this immigration court case called Jennings v. Rodriguez. It’s about immigration detention, whether immigrants should be detained for an infinite amount of time and I remember I knew so much about the case. While I was in DC, I got a notification that it was going to be reargued because the Justices weren’t satisfied - they still had questions. So I got so so happy. When I heard that the class actually required you to go to a SCOTUS case, I was like “Okay, I am going to that court case.” The day that the court case was being argued was also the day that the gerrymandering case was being argued (one of the most popular cases for this past term). Some of my friends who were interning in Congress told me, “Hey, you should start camping out because there are already six people lining up for the court cases tomorrow and it’s barely 6 pm.” So my friend and I camped out. We got there at around 9 or 10ish. We camped out the entire night. I was number 14 so I ended up getting into the courthouse. There were hundreds of people lined up to get a chance to hear not the case that I wanted to hear, but the other one. But still, being able to hear a very popular case…and hear the case that I wrote my senior thesis on was probably one of the most memorable events that happened while I was in DC.

I was ready to cry because I saw RBG and the other Justices. 

For future applicants, what is your biggest piece of advice?

For the application process, really apply everywhere that you want even if you don’t think that you have a chance of getting it. I never thought that I would land the internship with the DOJ. I just thought that’s such a big name, it’s the federal govt., I don’t really know if my prior experiences will be enough. And it was. Or at least the attorneys who were in charge of the internship program really believed in me. So you really don’t know who’s behind the scenes. Maybe your personality will mesh really well with the people in that organization. Really don’t restrict yourself on internships that you apply to. If you think that you really want to intern with the Supreme Court, might as well turn in an application because if you don’t the answer will always be no.

With regards to phone interviews, just be comfortable with yourself. I know that it sounds so cliche, but you really don’t know what the personalities of the staff members are. I know that the perception of Californians of people who work in DC is very cutthroat and uptight, but the people who work in these agencies really aren’t like that. They really care about the work that they’re doing. If you feel the same way, there is going to be a mutual agreement.

While in DC, get out of your comfort zone. There are so many things to do, so many people to meet. With the UCDC FB page, there’s a lot of students who graduated from their respective UCs and they’re posting on the FB page, “Hey, I just got a job at this place in DC and we’re actually hiring. If you submit an application, please let me know and I’ll put in a good word for you.” It may seem that these people are just friends and your support system while in DC, but they really do become long-term friends and co-workers. They really help you transition as you move to DC or somewhere else. Really take advantage of the cohort of students that you’re with because they really do become your good friends. 

Olivia Young - Department of Commerce

UCDC Cohort: Fall 2017

Major: International Studies - Economics

Favorite or most memorable part of your internship: My favorite part about my internship was being surrounded by and being able to work with many foreign service officers. Hearing their stories about their assignments all over the world and the work they did there to connect U.S. businesses to potential clients was super interesting and made me consider possibly going into foreign service in the future.

Fun fact about DC or UCDC: You can walk to so many great and free museums (you've probably heard about his a million times already but I am having some serious Smithsonian-withdrawls right now). I would spend hours on weekends in those museums!

Career goals and how you hope to use UCDC to achieve those goals: I would like to work in international trade, specifically supply chain management.

One of the inspirations I got to work in this field was while attending an event at the Wilson Center (a think tank right next to my office in DC!).

The talk was about tackling Africa's supply chain challenges to boost trade and development. I would like to work towards making supply chains more humane and sustainable and making global trade more accessible to everyone.

Justine Cole - Department of Commerce

UCDC Cohort: Fall 2016

Major: Political Science - International Studies

What is your current job title and duties? Please also name the organization you work for and its mission: 

Currently, I work as an investment analyst for the Vanguard Group, a large financial services company. I started at the company in a retail phone customer service role, before applying to one of the company's rotational programs, which I took part in for 2 years before launching into my full-time role. This role, within Vanguard's Portfolio Review Department, is heavily involved in the oversight of our existing product lineup (mutual funds & ETFs).

Tell us about the internship you completed during UCDC. What kind of work did you do?  

I was a programs intern, which essentially meant I was there to help with the programs that the office was in charge of. These included various grants to counties/Universities/organizations that were making a measurable impact when it comes to promoting innovation and entrepreneurship. Most of my time was spent evaluating the applications for these federal grant programs, and I was able to take part in the selection of the ultimate winners - which was an exciting experience! I was also allowed to help plan for the NACIE (National Advisory Council for Innovation and Entrepreneurship) group's annual conference. Notably, the Chancellor of UCSD Pradeep Khosla served as a member of that council and I was able to spend some time with him when he flew into D.C. for the conference! That was a highlight although he would likely be hard-pressed to remember :).

Did your internship lead you to any opportunities?  

Ultimately it did not although I did not pursue too many opportunities associated with the internship. It was a great role where I gained some good early experience, and I believe having a US federal agency on my resume was ultimately helpful in allowing me to gain employment in the private sector.

How did your internship or D.C. experience prepare you for your current employment? 

It gave me a good sense of what the real world was like, and what it was like interacting with the same group of people on a team on a day in day out basis. I ultimately consider my UCDC internship opportunity to be extremely formative in my professional development, especially because this was my first real experience working at something larger than a retail shop on Main street.

Do you have any advice for students interested in UCDC? 

Yes, pursue it. Find an internship - even if it doesn't work out well, you'll learn more about yourself and what it is you don't want to do when it comes time to look for a full-time job. The upside is really unlimited in terms of the skills you can learn and the people/connections you can meet that may lead to a role in a year/two year's time. Moreover, spending a full 3 months in a major metro area like D.C. made me realize quickly that I wanted to spend more time on the East Coast and probably helped me when I was thinking about whether or not to come out to Philadelphia to take on this job at Vanguard. There are so many events and talks going on from impressive, renowned individuals in the policy world, so please take every opportunity to attend those (most are free which is great), even if they have to be virtual due to COVID. The last thing I'll add is that now four years removed from college and as a member who partakes in some of the interviewing, hiring decisions at our firm, prior experience via internships is important. If you haven't had too much luck finding good internships during the summer, this is a fantastic opportunity to bolster your resume with a real, tangible experience that will impress the reviewer, no matter the field you ultimately seek to gain entry to (just look at my example, I never thought I'd end up in finance). 

Joshua Przepioski - National Defense University

UCDC Cohort: Fall 2014

Why did you decide to go to UCDC?

Most importantly, I wanted to have fun and to explore our nation's capital; however, I also had the opportunity to diversify my skills and become a competitive candidate in my future endeavors.  When I graduate, what more did I do, or what did I do differently compared to my peers who are studying my major?  All of us mostly take or took the same classes with the exception of a few core and general education electives.  To go beyond the curriculum and to challenge myself, I went to Washington, DC, and I did an Engineering Internship at the National Defense University, which is ran by the Department of Defense; additionally, I was exposed to a new social culture and privileged information, built a strong network of people and mentors who are already in the field of my interest, and I learned about different careers and agencies collaborating with each other, and how these processes may affect my future career.

How is your internship helping you grow professionally? 

Experiencing the work versus solving problems from a textbook or on an exam is very different.  In the coursework, I feel like you have to know and remember most details in order to earn the most desired grade; however, in a career, while you are expected to have at least the fundamentals, you can do well by mastering certain skills, and understanding where the real world does not match some ideal scenarios taught in coursework.  Careers also do not have partial credit: You either get the job done, and done correctly, or you did not.  In order to get the job done and, while most of the situations can be non-ideal, I have learned how to organize and manage my projects, how to use my resources, and how to find new resources if the need may arise.

What piece of advice do you want to share with future UCDC students?

 My mentor at the National Defense University taught me a very interesting trick beyond technique and experience: Write a journal or a list of your achievements each day. I kept careful notes of everything I learned, and by writing it down, it is difficult to forget; also, it made my experience much easier to describe in a cover letter and my resume, and my mentor was able to write a very good letter of recommendation, which was catered to my achievements and skills. This led to new opportunities after my time at UCDC expired, and I believe it will continue to do so.

Plus, I use my journal as a reference for skills that I learned, as a reference for people that I met (my network), and it has many wonderful reflections of my experience. Another thing I would add to my journal is all the questions I could think of, and I would ask my mentors for their ideas and write them into the journal too. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your UCDC experience so far?

Even after my internship, I continue to talk to my mentor most weeks with friendly emails or to ask for advice.  I am very interested in novel projects, and there are a lot of great opportunities within the Department of Defense, which is where my mentor works.  Admittedly, the skills I earned could have been somewhat achieved within a Californian organization, but I would have learned them by different means, and from different people who would have more likely shared the same perspectives as I.  I consider an interesting quote from Baltasar Gracian: "A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends."  While the people in Washington, DC may not necessarily be enemies (at least, to myself), the key point to this quote is about learning from a different perspective in order to improve yourself or to become more critical.  In Washington, DC, I worked with a completely different set of people, and I saw different perspectives and approaches on projects, which I think would be a lot more difficult to achieve within California.  I met more than just the people in the organization I had worked for, but I also met people in coursework and while exploring too.  I was able to meet Kevin Knoblock (Chief of Staff to Secretary of Department of Energy) and Gina McCarthy (Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency), and I was able to learn about their perspectives, concerns, and ideas they had; later, I did an internship within the Department of Energy, and I was able to try to tackle some of the problems they had shared with my class.

How does your UCDC experience relate to your major and/or the mission of your college?

With the exception of the internship being more obviously related to my major and career goals, I was surprised to find that the coursework was related too!  I signed up for a "Green Politics: Science, Policy, Polarization of Modern Day U.S. Environmentalism", which was very interesting and directly related to my engineering goals.  We discussed very critical areas of environmentalism where my engineering projects may help resolve or answer some of these questions, and I also learned about the criticism my projects may have to overcome too.  I got to meet people in these fields thanks to that coursework, and from learning new problems I was unaware of, I might have technical ideas to mitigate the cost of these problems.  In the Research Seminar, we read an excerpt about the Industry versus Research.  This is a common question in Engineering because our work can often cater towards Industry or Research, and engineers can often face ethical dilemmas and concerns ie. working on the military drones, which may be innovative technology used to defend the country, but is used as a weapon and can also have a negative impact if it is used mischievously.  In that class, the professor lent me a book about The Manhattan Project at Los Alamos (inventing the nuclear bomb) when I inquired further, and it inspired me to apply for a position at one of the National Laboratories similar to Los Alamos; so: I worked for SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory during the Summer.  We also wrote a large paper in the coursework, and we learned about various writing mechanisms, which I am using for SLAC in order to publish (work-in-progress) my research.