Alejandro Alvarez: "For those planning to participate in UCDC, put yourself out there and seize opportunities when they arise."

April 8, 2024

Each fall and spring, a cohort of UC juniors and seniors embark on an academic journey to the epicenter of American politics and culture: Washington, D.C. The UCDC program provides students from all majors with the unique opportunity to study and learn in the nation's capital, where they engage in internships, research endeavors, and academic coursework.

Below, Alejandro Alvarez shares his experience as an alum of the UCDC Program in spring 2023. Alejandro is majoring in political science and history, with a minor in conservation and resource studies. Alejandro plans to graduate this spring and return to DC for work. 

More information about the UCDC program is available on the Office of Undergraduate Research & Scholarships website.

Why did you choose to participate in UCDC?

Alejandro Alvarez: I chose to participate in the UCDC program because I wanted to directly learn about and engage with American politics.

Tell us about your work and experience while participating in UCDC.

During UCDC, I interned for the Office of Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA-07). In this role, I wrote constituent letters, conducted policy research, assisted with constituent services, and completed ad hoc administrative tasks. My experience taught me about the legislative policymaking process, Congress's relationship with the administration, and how to make sense of ongoing politics—all lessons I would not have necessarily learned in the classroom. By far, congressional interns' ability to travel across the Capitol was the most exciting part of this internship. Because of this, I was able to meet national leaders, watch congressional votes, and attend historic investigative hearings!

What was it like living in Washington, D.C.? Were you able to find a community and/or make connections with other students?

I loved living in Washington! I was able to find a community of LGBTQ friends within the program and outside of it. Likewise, I made friends with students at other UC campuses, who I still stay in contact with now. Also, I enjoyed the Washington Center's central location. Nearly all recreational activities and sightseeing opportunities are within walking distance or are a short Metro ride away. In general, DC's public transit infrastructure makes other parts of the DMV and the Northeast easily accessible. 

Is there a particular moment or event that was especially surprising or memorable to you?

Through my internship, I got to watch the House of Representatives vote in person. This experience was particularly exciting because I saw a myriad of famous national figures—like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—all in one room at the same time! It was also interesting to see who the representatives chatted and mingled with during votes. 

What skills and abilities have you developed as a result of your experience?

My UCDC experience taught me resilience. Although living, working, and studying in Washington was exciting every day, managing multiple commitments and adjusting to a professional workspace was difficult. However, I was able to overcome and manage these pressures. By the end of the program, I could balance work commitments, school work, and having a personal life—and I am confident I can do it again. 

How did the experience in UCDC contribute to your life?

UCDC inspired me to seek future employment in Washington! After graduation, I am looking to work in energy and environment public policy there. 

What advice would you give to a student interested in the UCDC program?

For those planning to participate in UCDC, put yourself out there and seize opportunities when they arise. DC will provide an array of networking and social opportunities which may seem daunting initially, but they will help open doors for you, whether that is in the form of new employment connections, interests, or friendships.  

To be connected with Alejandro or another UCDC Student Ambassador, email Mary Crabb, UCDC Program Advisor:

Photo of person wearing a navy suit and tie, standing inside the Capitol building

Alejandro Alvarez, spring 2023

DC will provide an array of networking and social opportunities which may seem daunting initially, but they will help open doors for you, whether that is in the form of new employment connections, interests, or friendships.
Alejandro Alvarez
Person standing outside pointing at the Washington Monument with a shocked expression on their face

Alejandro points to the Washington Monument.