- Interned at: U.S. Department of Education, Office for Postsecondary Education
- Participated: Summer 2019
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madeline-ong-325251110/
Tell us about your internship – what kind of work did you do? What did you find rewarding?
As a general intern at the Office for Postsecondary Education, I got to take part in several different projects and tasks. I first started with the GEAR UP and Talent Search programs, in which I reviewed grant applications for STEM programs in lower-income communities. In addition, I contacted governors' offices about upcoming grant competitions for their school districts. This was rewarding in several different ways. On a firsthand basis, I got to observe how to create, monitor, and facilitate grants on a nation-wide scale. In addition, I played an integral role in deciding the outcome of the current grant competition. Later, I worked with the Accreditation Board. I assisted in the planning and execution of the bi-annual NACIQI committee meeting, in which delegates deliberated on the accreditation of schools. It was rewarding to be able to witness this conference in D.C. Lastly, I got to review and edit the proposed policy changes for the department.
Have your career or life goals changed as a result of your internship? If so, how?
My experience in DC as a whole definitely solidified my interest in law. Since high school, I have wanted to become a lawyer in order to help others, especially those vulnerable to situations of disadvantage, such as children. Recognizing that the work I did at the U.S. Department of Education would directly impact the youth in our nation definitely impacted me and motivated me to want to do more to ensure equal opportunity for everyone. Moreover, by living in D.C. you are surrounded by so many driven, impassioned, and intelligent people everywhere you go. It was awesome to learn about other people's jobs and causes they are working for and definitely inspired me to want to be better every day. I am privileged to have my education and experiences such as UCDC, and I feel it is a responsibility to want to give back. I believe that going forward into law school will help me achieve that.
Share an exciting memory from your internship – something unexpected, an accomplishment, someone you met.
An unexpected memory from my internship was having the opportunity to meet with the former Chancellor of U.C. Hastings Law School at the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity Conference. Because of this connection, I was able to set up a meeting with him back in California and sit in on one of his classes at the law school! Also, by working in the Department of Education I also got to meet with several political appointees such as Betsy Devos.
Did your internship lead to any opportunities?
I was lucky to have some really amazing mentors who had a genuine interest in my career goals and ambitions. They connected me with some of the lawyers within the Department who gave me a tremendous amount of advice and insight into becoming a lawyer. I continue to keep in touch with many of them and received letters of recommendation for law school applications.
Share a story about something special you did in Washington – an event you attended, a place you went, an exciting talk, etc.
There were so many events and activities to be excited about! Probably the most memorable experience was sitting in a Supreme Court hearing. People start lining up super early in the morning in order to get a spot, so my friends and I woke up at 4:30 am to get in line. Luckily we got there when we did because I think we were some of the last people to get tickets inside. Being able to see RBG and the rest of the justices discuss their final decisions in person was incredible.
How has living in the nation’s capital for a quarter changed you?
Living in such a politically active community made me more aware of the current issues within our nation. It definitely opened my eyes to the importance of taking action and speaking up for what you believe in. As aforementioned, working in such an environment pushes you to work harder and not be afraid to go after what you want.
Do you have any advice for future UCDC students?
Take part in everything you can! Do your research about events going on in D.C. because there is always something going on. Networking is no joke, so don't be afraid to introduce yourself to people and get out of your comfort zone. It is amazing where these personal connections can take you!