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Social Justice & Law Internships

Brenda Contreras - Fellowship at Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC)


UCDC Cohort: Winter 2019

Major: Political Science

I wouldn't have been able to do this program without the support of my mentors,family, and friends. One of those mentors being Michelle Hatari, the brilliant woman I met at an affordable housing forum at SDSU who met with me over coffee. While I shared my passion for pursuing a career in helping create affordable housing, Michelle helped me connect the dots by recommending different companies to look into in order for me to help foster a more clear understanding of what I wanted my career in affordable housing to be- for that I will always be grateful to her. Eventually, that led to me reaching out to LISC, then to me being one of the few and the youngest selected to be a part of the Inaugural Class of Oramenta Newsome Local Initiative Support Corporation Fellowship who paired me perfectly with their partner Mi Casa Inc. a non-profit affordable housing developer. My goal at Mi Casa Inc. was to design, coordinate, and execute a Demographic Data Analysis Report for eight buildings owned by Mi Casa Inc. in order to better understand residents. I got to work in a diverse team with incredible people from Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Ethiopia, and Paraguay who I now see as part of my family. I had informative economic development seminars at LISC as well as an opportunity to interact with public policy directors and program officers who were knowledgeable on how the upcoming Presidential candidates' policies would impact local communities. While at Mi Casa Inc...

  • I collaborated with the director of Finance and Asset Management to effectively design, coordinate, and execute a resident Demographic Data Survey for 2019. 
  • Helped facilitate cooperative capacity and participation serving as a Spanish translator during tenant meetings and translating professional documents from English to Spanish
  • Assisted with writing policy memos, researching about the Tenant to Purchase Program (TOPA), fundraising, and social media promotion

I have learned that as an intern I bring value and I have worth. Sometimes I would hear other people say "I am just an Intern", but the reality is that interns can bring value and have the power to help a company grow by leveraging their connections, offering insightful feedback, bringing in a new perspective. In order to make the most out of your experience don't settle for the first organization or company that reaches out, I recommend that you research your internship in advance and during your interview keep in mind that you should also be interviewing different organizations by asking specific questions about their goals, current challenges, and your specific role at the company. In addition, you may be entitled to some perks at your internship so make sure to look through your company handbook or ask someone you work with. For example, my roommate and best friend was entitled to a transportation reimbursement that helped cover some of the Ubers and Lyfts she took to get to company events and to get home after dark sometimes when work would end late.   

Currently, I am looking for an opportunity to learn more about housing legislation, and I am considering pursuing a career in economic development. UCDC made me realize that obtaining a law degree in addition to having a background in housing legislation is the best way I can help stimulate create affordable housing and stimulate economic development. 

Yasmine Berger - National Community Reinvestment Coalition


UCDC Cohort: Fall 2019


During the 2019 Fall quarter, I participated in the UCDC program. While in Washington D.C., I lived and worked about 15-20 minutes walking distance from the White House, took interesting classes, and interned at a fantastic non-profit called NCRC (National Community Reinvestment Coalition). At NCRC, I published a research report on financial technology and a web page link for their Health Equity initiative. I also assisted in writing a policy brief for the organization and helped invite speakers and create session content for NCRC’s annual conference. The work environment provided a warm and open atmosphere with my friendly co-workers. I felt like I contributed towards the organization’s mission that aligned with my own values. I received academic credit for my work with NCRC while also enrolled in a Judicial Process and Politics
course and a non-profit and advocacy course. The classes were chock-full of intriguing content with a manageable course load.

In conjunction with student internships and classes, there are many opportunities within D.C. that allow students to explore, travel, learn, and network. If I ever had a question, the UCDC staff and my co-workers were always more than happy to recommend great restaurants, venues, events, and activities around the city.

UCDC is an incredible program built on a foundation of dedicated faculty, bright professors, and committed program coordinators that will help students in any way. The program is full of eager and motivated UC students who want to engage with the many facets and opportunities within Washington D.C. I highly recommend the UCDC program as it is an experience of personal and professional growth, knowledge, and exploration.

Mehrin Saleem - Association of Prosecuting Attorneys


UCDC Cohort: Spring 2017

Major: Pre-Law

I went to D.C. this past Summer and, after applying endlessly to around 30 internships, I found the one that was right for me: at the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA). Being a pre-law student on a major STEM campus, I had been struggling to find very useful experience at UCSD that was geared towards learning the law in a hands-on manner. Thus,  pursued UCDC due to its immense opportunities for social science majors. Because D.C. is the hub of government and law-making, I gained incredible experience in learning who makes the law and the implications of new laws that are brought about within our society. Working within the Communications Department of APA, I utilized the knowledge I have gained in my Communication major at UCSD and applied this knowledge to improving communications networks within APA as well as improving its social media presence. Overall, my hands-on experience in D.C. through working in a legal setting was irreplaceable and has now given me skills to apply to future jobs. But D.C. was not all work and no play. The nation's capital had great opportunities to explore the city through the museums, nightlife, and the people of D.C. The city had a certain life and experience to it that made every day of the 10 weeks unique in their own ways. If I had time to go again, I would!