Capitalizing on Your Potential

When Muir junior Jacob Knapp arrived in Washington in January, he had mixed feelings about the experiences that lay ahead. Knapp, a participant in the UCDC program, was initially overwhelmed.

Anja Scherer

“”I didn’t know anyone else who was in the program, so I was a little nervous going in,”” Knapp said. “”But by the time it was over, our group had really bonded.””

Knapp is one of 24 students from UCSD who participated in the program winter quarter. The UCDC program was created nearly 10 years ago, with the purpose of giving UC students the opportunity to take courses and have internships while living in the district area. UCSD has been sending students to participate in this program for the past five years, and the program has grown considerably since its creation.

In the past, participants of the program have resided at the Virginian apartments in Arlington, Va., but beginning this fall, students will live in the new University of California Washington Center, located in the heart of the city.

The new 11-story building will house nearly 300 students each quarter, as well as several seminar rooms, conference rooms, an auditorium, a multi-purpose room, a computer lab and several classrooms. Additionally, the building will house the Office of Federal Governmental Relations and other administrative and research units of the University of California. The center will serve as the epicenter of the UCDC program, making it the largest nonlocal university in Washington.

Along with the opening of the new center, there have recently been some changes to the local program headquarters. After five years of being centered in the political science department, the headquarters for the program has moved to the Career Services Center. Although the program will continue to be operated by the political science department, the promotion, recruitment, Web site, internship information and advising and application procedures will all be orchestrated by Career Services.

Shannon Roberts, the UCDC internship coordinator, feels that the move will have a strong impact on the amount of publicity that the program receives at UCSD.

“”In the past, the program was not promoted as much,”” Roberts said. “”But with the opening of the new center and the increase in the number of students we will be able to send every quarter, we can already see the program becoming increasingly popular among UCSD students.””

For UCSD students, the completion of this new facility will increase the number of students participating in the program each quarter. The location of the building is also convenient for students because it is in such close proximity to many governmental organizations and agencies.

For Knapp, a political science major, the internship was a valuable learning experience.

“”The UCDC program opened up my eyes to the East Coast lifestyle and how our government works,”” Knapp said. “”I’ve always been a California boy, but this trip made me want to go to law school on the East Coast.””

Applicants will assemble a file consisting of a cover sheet, application form, official transcript, letters of recommendation, resume and letter of intent to enroll. Students should then turn these materials in to the Career Services Center, where they will be given guidance on how to obtain an internship in the district.

After the application deadline has passed, application files will then be sent to the political science department, where they will be reviewed by a panel of faculty members who represent many different academic departments at UCSD. The panel will review these files on the basis of GPA, class level and major. Although the program is quite selective, those involved in the application review process try to accept a diverse group of students each quarter.

Traditionally, a large number of the students who have participated in the program have been political science majors, but the program directors emphasize the vast number of opportunities available to other majors.

Professor Samuel Kernell, director of undergraduate studies at the UCSD political science department and director of the UCDC program at UCSD, encourages students from all majors to apply for the program.

“”This is not just a political science program,”” Kernell said. “”There are dozens and dozens of internships in a variety of fields that are available to students, and we are very keen on students from the humanities and sciences applying to the UCDC program.””

The quarter-long program provides students the chance to spend time away from UCSD, have an internship, as well as earn regular grades and units for coursework completed while in the district. The cost of the program is comparable to quarterly fees at UCSD, but the cost of living in Washington is slightly higher than in San Diego. Student housing is fully furnished, and the cost is approximately $725 per month for rent.

Muir senior Jen Levine, a sociology major, participated in the program last spring and advises students to take advantage of the opportunities that this program offers.

“”I chose to participate because I didn’t want to leave UCSD for a long period of time, yet I thought I would be missing out if I didn’t try something new and different,”” Knott said. “”There are many advantages to the program, and if you participate, you will have a memorable experience and learn a lot.””

Students who enroll in the program divide their time between classes taught by UC faculty and an internship that relates to their career interest. At the end of the 10-week program, students are expected to produce an intensive research paper related to their internship experience.

Students are able to choose from several different courses including art history, sociology, politics, public policy, media and economics to satisfy their elective requirement.

Although the course requirements and research paper can be intimidating, most students feel that they benefit from the work they complete in the district.

Knapp, who interned at the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, felt that researching and writing his paper, “”Federal Grand Jury Reform,”” was a valuable learning experience.

“”The research paper was a lot of work, but I feel like it was worthwhile,”” Knapp said. “”D.C. has tons of resources available for students and the public at large. You just have to take advantage of them.””

Although UCDC students take courses while in Washington, the internship is the main component of the program. According to the UCDC internship coordinators, there are a number of internship opportunities relating to agriculture, science and environmental policy, arts, museums, arts administration, Congress, economic policy, elections, political parties, action groups, human services & social policy, international affairs, law and justice, and press and the media.

Revelle senior Marjorie Knott, a political science major, spent last spring interning at the White House in the Office of Presidential Inquiries for the Department of Correspondence.

She served as a supervisor, and enjoyed the many opportunities she was given while completing her internship.

“”I had a lot of perks as an intern,”” Knott said. “”I went to State Arrivals, ushered speaking engagements for diplomats and special White House tours and helped coordinate Volunteer Appreciation Day and the Easter Egg Roll.””

The program was also a defining experience in Knott’s career. Her internship experience substantially changed her career goals.

“”Being a political science major, I always figured that law school was the next step for me,”” Knott said. “”My internship in D.C. redirected my abilities and my passion, because working within the Correspondence Department helped me recognize that my favorite part of my political science studies was in the composition and presentation of material. I liked the public relations aspect of my degree, and as an intern for the ultimate medium of public relations for political affairs, let’s just say I found my niche.””

For other students, such as Knapp, the internship experience reinforced prior career goals.

“”Down the road, I would like to become a federal judge, and by working at the District Court in D.C., I was able to interview and observe several judges and see what their daily routines entailed,”” Knapp said. “”I was able to observe cool trials including the Microsoft case, and my internship at the courthouse has intensified my desire to go to law school,”” he said.

For students who want to pursue internships in Washington, the UCDC program provides the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s most prestigious organizations, while still taking UC- transferable courses and living in the nation’s capital.

In addition, with the opening of the new center in the fall, students will be able to reside in the same place where they will be taking courses and completing their research projects.

For Knott, the UCDC program was a life-changing experience.

“”Words cannot describe the impact that this program had on my life,”” Knott said. “”This experience shaped the person that I am, and shaped the goals that I know seek.””

The deadline for the fall quarter program is May 7, and students wishing to apply for winter quarter can also turn in applications by this date. For more information visit the Career Services Center, or go to the UCDC Web site at

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