D.C. Internships Prepare Hispanic and Latino Students to Compete and Lead in a Global Economy

For many Hispanic and Latino college students, building a strong foundation for career advancement in a globally competitive economy starts with an important first-step — completing an internship in our nation’s capital.

If you are a college student living outside the Washington, D.C., metro area who is feeling financially strapped, the idea of leaving school for a semester may seem daunting, perhaps even impossible.

But before you dismiss the idea altogether, think again. An internship can mean the difference between having or not having decent job prospects, and is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as a future global leader with some of today’s heavy hitters.

One dynamic D.C.-based internship program specifically designed to support, encourage and connect Hispanic and Latino college students to best-in-class professional opportunities — and today’s government and corporate leaders — is the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute’s (CHLI) Global Leaders Program.

CHLI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization founded by members of Congress in 2003 with a goal of advancing the Hispanic community’s economic progress. The organization emphasizes, among other values, “social responsibility and global competitiveness” and “fosters a broad awareness of diversity of thought, heritage, interests and views of Americans of Hispanic and Portuguese descent,” as stated on the organization’s mission and history webpage.

Developing a culture of leadership is an ever-present and overarching priority for CHLI leadership, staff, alumni, and advisers, who live out this philosophy by helping prepare, connect, and honor leaders through policy briefings, forums and an annual gala and leadership awards event, in addition to the well-known internship program.

Beyond on-the-job training opportunities, CHLI internship participants experience first-hand how government and business interact in the real world.

“We prepare high school and college students to be globally competitive, because today, students are not just competing with their cohort who is sitting next to them in class,” said Mary Ann Gómez Orta, CHLI president and CEO. “Students and young professionals are competing with people from around the world for the top jobs.”

Yet, what also makes the CHLI Global Leaders Program truly accessible to Hispanic and Latino college students is that it is a fully paid internship. Round-trip air travel and housing expenses are covered, and a living stipend is provided for those selected.

The internship runs for 15 weeks, with the semester divided into an orientation period, a government office placement period, and a corporate office placement period.

While the program is competitive and applicants must be U.S. citizens for job placement, staff members are expanding efforts to cast as wide a net as possible to attract students with diverse backgrounds from across the country, including Puerto Rico.

Certainly, there is a no-nonsense approach to how the program is run. “Participants are expected to be high performers who are able to manage multiple tasks and deadlines, as well as go-getters who will take advantage of every opportunity Washington, D.C., has to offer,” the organization’s website also notes.

So if you have “ganas,” want to hone your professional and leadership skills, and desire to leave the world a better place than you found it, don’t let fear or self-doubt stop you. Take advantage of a program like CHLI’s Global Leaders Program, make good friends, and find a mentor along the way.

Time remains to apply for CHLI’s 2017 spring semester, but you must act fast. The next application deadline is April 28. If this spring doesn’t work for you, CHLI’s internship program runs twice a year, in the spring and fall.

To learn more about CHLI, visit: www.chli.org.

Go for it. And good luck!

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