From OC to DC: Working at the Nation’s Capita

Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton and Donald Rumsfeld are just a few of the faces you can see when taking up one of the unique University of California-District of Columbia (UCDC) Summer and Academic Internship Programs. UC Irvine sends its best and brightest undergraduates to Washington, D.C. to live, play and work with the established professionals that move and shake the world.
The UCDC program has come a long way since 1982 when it was founded by the UCI Career Center. The year the program started, there were four students in the UCDC program who went to Washington, D.C. Today, UCI’s UCDC summer program sends more than 40 students each summer, while the UCDC academic program sends more than 20 students each fall, winter and spring quarter.
D.C. survival guides written by past UCDC participants, workshops on writing cover letters and resumes, interview techniques, access to internship databases, one-on-one guidance by UCDC coordinators and advisors and social events with UCDC alumni are all components of the UCDC Program at UCI. The friendly staff at the Career Center are all there as resources for students’ success in securing an internship in the competitive enterprises of Washington, D.C.
Reminiscent of this past summer in D.C. as former participants in the UCDC program, Perry Yates, a fourth-year political science major, and Sarah Fashbaugh, a fourth-year criminology, law and society major, are now both UCDC summer program coordinators. Yates interned at Senator Diane Feinstein’s D.C. office, while Fashbaugh interned at INTERPOL in the Terrorism and Violent Crime Division. Both agreed that the UCDC program was a vital part of their success and prepared them for their competitive internships.
“Any program is what you make of it, but UCDC could make your career,” Yates said.
In fact, former UCDC Summer Program Coordinator and UCI alumni Mitch Winans thanks his UCDC experience for his current job at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.
UCDC is not just a program – it is an experience. Spending 10 weeks in D.C. is plenty of time to immerse yourself in the culture of the nation’s capital. While in D.C. Yates was able to see a lonely Donald Rumsfield on the Metro, meet Hillary Clinton at work and see Barack Obama speak on the Senate floor. In Irvine, we are not accustomed to meeting high-ranking politicians or top diplomats. However, in D.C., it is more than likely that the person you happened to hold the door open for was a congressman, ambassador or a prestigious researcher or specialist from a think tank.
Participants are given the opportunity to live in the 11-story UC Washington Center located in the heart of D.C. among over 250 other UCDC participants from across the UC system. The Center consists of fully furnished four-person apartments, laundry rooms, a fitness center, a computer lab, study rooms, lecture halls, conference rooms and a huge patio on the fourth floor. It is also a 24-hour secured building, even though the building is located in one of the safest parts of the city, just six blocks away from the White House.
Public transportation in D.C. is a way of life, unlike the usual scene of bumper-to-bumper traffic that we see in Orange County. Washington’s Metro system is reliable, convenient and easy. Whether you are going to the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, Georgetown, National Archives, airports, Adams Morgan for the nightlife or the D.C. National Zoo, the Metro is within a short walking distance to any destination in the D.C. Metropolitan area – including parts of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
In every corner of every walk in D.C. there is a monument recognizing a war hero, a former president, a war, a battle or a president. The architecture is rich and exquisite, with intricate details yet a very firm and solid presence and pillars galore.
“It made you feel like you were part of something big. It’s living history,” Fashbaugh said.
Students can apply for the UCDC program by downloading an application from their website at for the summer program, and for the academic program. The deadline for both the summer and spring 2009 quarters is Oct. 31, 2008.