UCDC: Your Chance to Experience our Nation's Capital
Washington D.C. is a place very close to my heart - having participated in UCDC the summer of 2017, and living/working in D.C. again in the summer of 2018, I’ve learned a lot about humidity, mosquitos, and public transportation. However, I wouldn’t have made these twice-in-a-lifetime memories without UCDC. UCDC is a unique, year-long program that allows students from all the UC schools to move to Washington, D.C. to take classes/complete internships of their choosing. I did the summer program - which did not require me to take classes - which I loved because it allowed me to work full-time and have time to explore the city. You may also take UCDC during any quarter, but must take classes to receive your financial aid to help cover the costs of the program. UCDC is a great way to get work/field experience while also ensuring that you graduate on time!
How to Get Started:
Attend an info meeting. There will likely be free food!
Follow on Facebook, Instagram for updates
Like study abroad, try to plan for your UCDC experience early; in fact, you will need to in order to apply for internships. For example, for Summer 2017, I started to plan in Fall Quarter 2016, and interviewed in Fall Quarter 2016. I was notified of my acceptance the week of finals week in Fall Quarter, in December.
Apply via Handshake - Handshake is UCI’s job portal, which allows you to access on-campus and off-campus job postings.
Looking for Internships:
What’s great about UCDC is that they have a whole resource center in the career center dedicated to providing you the materials and resources you need to apply to internships. The UCDC program pairs you with a student coordinator who has done the program before so that you can have personalized meetings on your progress, and so that they can read over and help you edit your resume, cover letters, and writing samples.
Databases: UCDC has an incredible database of internship opportunities that past interns have completed, and the UCDC coordinators email you almost once or twice every week with internship links from Indeed, Idealist, or from emails from previous UCDC alumni. I used all of these links extensively when applying, and blocked off at least 1 hour a few times a week to apply, follow-up, and search for internships. However, don’t be discouraged or overwhelmed by the amount of links - internships are very competitive in D.C., especially in the summer when folks are most available to come to the nation’s capital. Keep an open mind when applying, and don’t just stick with the paid internships if you can, as things move slowly in Washington. I applied to 18 internships before I got a couple of interviews!
TIP: keep a spreadsheet about where you applied to, what day you did, and when you need to follow up. You will be a much saner person for it.
There are a couple of scholarships available from UCDC center that will help with fees, but your financial aid still goes with you during the school year. UCDC coordinators usually try to coordinate fundraising opportunities to help you out, because D.C. is expensive but manageable with scholarships! That being said, look early for scholarships. Even if you land an unpaid internship, there are several programs in DC that have scholarships available to help subsidize the costs even further.
Once you get there:
One of the best perks of UCDC is housing. You will get to live in UC Washington Center, which is basically like living in a hotel with a mix of all the UC students. The UC Washington Center is not the newest facility, but includes a gym, 24/7 security, fully furnished apartments (even with pots and pans!), a convenience store, a rooftop deck, computer lab, etc. Perhaps the most worth it part is the location. It is located in between Logan and Dupont Circle in Downtown D.C., just two blocks away from the White House. I actually barely used the metro my first summer in D.C., because all the touristy things were literally steps away (but they felt farther due to the humidity).
If you’ve never used public transportation before, you will now. I was born and raised in Southern California, which means I learned how to drive when I was 15, and have never used a cab or a bus. UCDC actually provides you with a metro card upon arrival, so pull up a metro map and study it before you get to the station so you don’t look like a fool! Also, STAND ON THE RIGHT, AND WALK ON THE LEFT on the escalator, or you will be faced with the wrath of angry locals.
Take advantage of all the networking events DC has to offer - they always have food, but more importantly, DC is the center of young, talented, professionals who are willing to connect you with anyone. By being strategic about the connections I made in DC last year and attending networking events not just for the free hor d'oeuvres, I was able to land the job I have this summer, and take advantage of mentorships and long-lasting friendships.
Popular Vacations and Things to Do:
D.C. is the place to be for young professionals - here are my favorite things to do in the city when I’m not working!
Some best eateries:
Thip Khao (Authentic Laotian food!!!)
Sweetgreen (the best salads ever)
Compass Coffee (best coffee I’ve ever had - and I’ve had a lot of coffee)
Ice Cream Jubilee (gin and tonic ice cream??)
Founding Farmers (one of the most rated restaurants in Yelp, incredible for brunch!)
Baked and Wired (CUPCAKES - much better than Georgetown Cupcakes in my opinion)
Smithsonian Museums (they’re FREE)
Sunrise runs to the Lincoln Memorial (yes, you live that close)
Take a motorized scooter around the city (they’re activated by phone apps and cost $1 to ride - this is truly the future)
Kayak down the Potomac
Busboys and Poets (poetry slams, drinks, and food)
U-Street Corridor (for those looking for after-hours entertainment!)
Take a Megabus to NYC ($40 for a day trip)
Attend a protest; there’s always one happening, I guarantee it
If you want to see what I’ve accomplished in DC or my touristy pictures, go ahead and follow me on Instagram (@joycenguy) and feel free to ask away - I’d love to connect you with any networks or internship leads that I know!