Students Share Unique
Work-Based Experiences in Government Internships  

Urban Alliance students highlight their experiences in a government internship program at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the largest federal law enforcement agency with nine agencies and offices across the country. The students interned at various offices within DHS including FEMA, TSA, U.S. Coast Guard, Office of Partnership and Engagement, and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Administration.

MARIO MARTINEZ recently graduated from Alexandria City High School (ACHS) in Northern Virginia. He recalls the day he decided to apply for the Urban Alliance High School Internship Program (HSIP). 

“I applied because my counselor recommended it to me and said I could get paid for an internship and gain connections” he said. 

Interning in the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is an experience that is more than he could have ever imagined. Having the opportunity to work in a professional environment and build connections to for opportunities after college as he pursues a degree in cybersecurity, “has helped me significantly because I am working in the government, and this is helping me get my credentials.”  

Together with the guidance of his Urban Alliance Internship Program Lead (IPL) Frank Alvarado and DHS mentor, Mario says “I am making the most out of the opportunities given to me.”

HERMILA WELDEMKEL graduated from Washington-Liberty High School in Northern Virginia. Even as a high school student, Hermila knew that she wanted to get an early start on her career in cybersecurity. Hermila interned in the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. 

Participating in HSIP is an opportunity for her to “grow in my coming career and expand my skills and knowledge. She also explains her hope to “gain confidence in myself and explore what I’m passionate about by going out there and taking action.”  

Even though undecided about her college choice, Hermila is clear that the internship is giving her the “guidance in my career path to help me develop the skills I need to succeed in my goals.”  

She celebrates the work with her mentor and credits him for the inspiration to “stay consistent and the importance of completing tasks which motivates me to work diligently and think about the reason why I am showing up,” said Hermila. 

AMAYA PADILLA interned at the Department of Homeland Security: Citizenship and Immigration Services Unit. Without hesitation, she will tell you that she is a proud graduate of Cass Technical High School in Detroit. 

“My career aspirations center around pursuing a business/marketing major at Wayne State University, and this DHS internship will serve as a vital steppingstone in determining if a future in law enforcement aligns with my passions. Upon completion of my college journey, I aspire to join the academy,” Amaya said. 

Amaya explains that she applied to Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program with several goals in mind to “acquire new skills, expand my knowledge, and be exposed to jobs that would profoundly shape my future,” she said. 

She values the impact of her government internship and how the work experience is paving the way for her college and career journey. 

“Through this internship, my aim is to cultivate a wealth of invaluable experience and forge meaningful connections for my desired career path.”  

Amaya also credits the government internship program lead for providing the guidance and support to prepare her for a positive work-based experience. “Their mentorship has equipped me with exceptional skills that will undoubtedly contribute to my success.”

Evelyn Margarito-Casas is a graduate of Coolidge High School in Washington, DC, and interns in the Office of the Executive Secretary at DHS. After learning about Urban Alliance’s High School Internship Program (HSIP) through her Early College Academy Director at school, Evelyn knows how this experience will help prepare her for the future. 

“I will gain a lot of knowledge about the government and experience events that are helpful for obtaining a job in the future,” said Evelyn. 

Evelyn’s post-high school journey includes a full scholarship to attend American University where is majoring in international studies with a concentration on Latin America. Her career aspiration is to work for the government or as a diplomat. She shares how the government internship is giving her a head start on that path. 

“My DHS internship has provided me firsthand knowledge about the government sector and advice on how to work there. I get to broaden my interests, build relationships, and get a jump start on building my professional network,” she said.