by Queen Ramirez
I spent three months interning in Washington, D.C., for the Federal Communications Commission.
What does that mean? It means I spent three months away from home having one of the best summers of my life.
A few months before the end of last semester I stumbled across the internship under the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership page on the UIW website. Before I thought anything through I headed to the Ettling office to ask questions and get the application. Fifteen minutes later I walked away with the necessary information and a deadline.
The application deadline was a week away. And again, without thinking, I called my parents to tell them what I was up to. They were excited and perhaps a little scared. In under 20 minutes I made the decision to plow on ahead with the application and do everything I had to do to get the internship. That was the biggest spur-of-the-moment decision I had ever made.
The next week was one of the most stressful weeks of the school year. Several professors willingly agreed to assist me with my application despite my ridiculous deadline, and they all came through with letters of recommendation. The application was turned in on time and two weeks later I heard the verdict.
I learned of my acceptance into the program and spent the next month or so trying to get an internship in D.C., eventually landing one with the FCC thanks to the help of Washington Intern Student Housing (WISH). After final exams, I boarded a plane for the first time on my way to Washington.
My internship experience was amazing, and certainly not something accessible in San Antonio.
I interned in the Office of the Secretary under the Office of the Managing Director where I had the opportunity to learn how the FCC functions. I was assigned to handle records and shown how to use a document management system. I even met the chairman.
From my time there I uploaded more than 800 documents, received research training, attended FCC events and even spoke at one.
I had a front-row seat to policy- and rulemaking, witnessed the commissioners and the chairman vote on items, learned about networks in terms of spectrum and broadband and learned how to read FCC documents. Robo calls, net neutrality and next-generation 911 were some of the topics taken up at the meetings. The meetings highlighted topics of current importance to the commission and displayed how the commission impacts everyday life.
There were also a few fun days as well. One day the entire office took a riverboat ride on the Potomac River and went out to lunch.
One afternoon I was at The Washington Post listening to several panels speak about the First Amendment in relation to journalism in the world today. About a month later I was invited to the CBS office in D.C. to view three screenings of pilot shows that have yet to air.
During lunch on Fridays I sometimes went to the farmers’ market hosted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture where I had the best crab cakes and walked through USDA’s small community garden.
I often spent time speaking with people who worked in other bureaus, but I favored speaking with people who worked in the Office of Media Relations and the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau.
But the bureaus that offered me the most information were the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Wireline Competition Bureau because their information was totally new to me. From them I learned about broadband, spectrum, the Internet and 5G.
Later on in the internship I was asked to speak at a Girls Who Code event despite not knowing much of anything about coding. But thankfully I was not there to talk code. I spoke on a panel to several groups of people about the FCC and what my experience there entailed.
By the end of the summer I had spoken with many different people from different bureaus and offices, and all of them were kind enough to spend 15 to 20 minutes with me and introduce me to other people.
Soon enough people were waving and smiling at me in the hallways; I was glad to hear my name and recognize people I had previously spoken with.
During the weekends, I saw the monuments and museums. Every structure seemed impressive and imposing; I was in awe each time I passed by.
The Lincoln Memorial and Library of Congress were my favorite places, but my favorite museum was the Newseum where I spent a full weekend reading everything and admiring their collection of old papers. There were headlines from the Boston Tea Party, the Salem Witch Trials and the Civil War.
Every morning I would pass by the Capitol, Washington Monument and through the green grass of the National Mall. Walking through the area never got old and there was always something to look forward to seeing.
This summer was not only the best internship opportunity I could ask for, but it was an experience never to be forgotten.
E-mail Ramirez at firstname.lastname@example.org