The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Students and Alumni Celebrate 2nd Annual SBS in DC Internship Program

Friday, August 9, 2019

On August 1, University of Massachusetts Amherst students and alumni from the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS) gathered together in Washington DC to celebrate the close of the second annual SBS in DC internship program. The event was an opportunity for program participants to share their experiences in Washington, and to meet with alumni and donors who helped make those experiences possible.

John A. Hird, Dean of SBS and professor of political science and public policy, expressed his gratitude for the alumni and donors who made the program accessible to SBS students with their generous gifts, while students, in turn, described the impact the internship had on their lives and professional aspirations. 

"There’s building momentum and it’s really exciting to see."

- Dean John A. Hird

Interns were placed in positions in and around Capitol Hill; some in the federal government, some in non-profits, some in advocacy organizations. Over 10 weeks, they took an online class while also networking with industry professionals, working alongside alumni, and taking guidance from mentors.

Developed by SBS Career & Professional Development, this program aims to provide an affordable, structured, quality professional development experience for SBS undergraduates, and engage DC area alumni as mentors, to help shape the next generation of leaders emerging from SBS and UMass. 

Making Career Development Accessible 

“Getting outside my comfort zone was something unique to me,” said Denim Diaz, finance intern for the Center for Advanced Defense Studies. “Being at a non-profit that specializes in international relations, which is something I don’t take classes on was also awesome because I was able to see the finance side and also something that’s within my academic interest but not something I’ve studied."

Some interns even had the opportunity to work with members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation such as Congressman Jim McGovern, Congresswoman Katherine Clark, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and Senator and democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.

Andres Garcia '20

“Just meeting my member of congress -- I’m interning for my own member -- and that’s really cool because now he knows who I am, I know who he is, said Krystal Yee, an intern for Congressman Kennedy. “Being able to help a person who represents my family, my friends, my teachers, my dance teammates, it means a lot to me.”

Finding affordable housing in Washington DC can be difficult, especially for students. The nation’s capital is frequently listed among cities with the highest average rent costs in the country. 

SBS in DC provides housing for each student easing financial constraints and making it an accessible career development opportunity for all SBS students.

A Home Away from Home

The experiences of the inaugural group of interns helped inform this year’s program, establish networks in DC, and instill in students a sense of community away from UMass. Since the establishment of the SBS in DC program one year ago, the internship cohort has doubled in size. 

“It’s a very competitive program, so we probably have four or five applicants at least for each of the positions we have available,” said Dean Hird. “There’s building momentum and it’s really exciting to see.”