Towson University student Jackie Martinez always aspired to become an immigration lawyer. Her passion for advocating for those who are underrepresented led her to her internship with Ayuda Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides legal, social, and language services to help low-income immigrants.
Where did you intern and what were some of your responsibilities there?
I interned with Ayuda Inc. Ayuda is a non-profit organization that provides legal, social, and language services to help low-income immigrants in our neighborhoods access justice and transform their lives. Some of my daily responsibilities were attending meetings with the HR/Ops team, discussing new projects, and making excel sheets to track clients and contracts. I also assisted with onboarding of new attorneys and helped attorneys make folders for new clients/services. Ayuda works with pro bono attorneys to provide consultations to clients through limited scope brief advice clinics. I was able to observe how the clinic is organized and also learn more about the immigration cases they take.
Tell us about a project you worked on during your internship that was your favorite, the most challenging, or the most exciting.
Throughout my time in Ayuda I have worked on multiple projects. One of the projects that was my favorite was working with my supervisor to hire for a new position that opened up at Ayuda. I have never been exposed to the hiring aspect, which was very interesting to experience how candidates are chosen. I was given the opportunity to interview the candidates. It allowed me to get a different perspective of the hiring process. This was my first time ever doing this and I thought it was very exciting to see all the qualifying candidates that had applied for the position.
How did you expand your professional network during your time with TWC?
During my time with TWC I have been able to build my network and expand my knowledge in the work field. I went above and beyond to have opportunities to make new connections, by asking people I met through TWC to connect me to people that have similar career interests.
Working for an organization like Ayuda allowed me to see what it takes to be a immigration lawyer and advocate for those who are underrepresented.Jackie Martinez, Towson University student interned with Ayuda Inc.
How has this experience impacted your career goals?
Working with the different departments taught me that there are different career paths. Also, working for an organization like Ayuda allowed me to see what it takes to be a immigration lawyer and advocate for those who are underrepresented. Ayuda allowed me to see if my dreams of becoming a immigration lawyer were possible. After graduation, I plan to attend law school to pursue a practice in public interest law or immigration law.
What advice do you have for students considering an internship with TWC? Also, if I’m not mistaken, you are a first-generation college student, correct? As such, do you have any additional thoughts or advice to share with other first-gen learners?
Take every opportunity you have. It is not about what you know, it is about who you know sometimes! As someone who is a first-generation student and daughter of two immigrant parents, I never really had help or connections. I did everything on my own but my parents always had faith that I knew what I was doing. Go to embassy events, congressional hearings, and events that TWC hosts. Those are very significant ways to grow your network. I attended all events that I received invites to and built new connections with people in high positions. A few examples include professionals from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and attorneys and prosecutors.
As a first-generation student this was a great opportunity. I started this program without knowing anyone in high positions or having connections. Now, I have built a professional network. I know how important it can be for us first-generation students. One last piece of advice I would give a first-generation student is to have confidence in yourself. Sometimes as a first-generation student we may compare ourselves to others but never let imposter syndrome bring you down.
How did the support of the Prudential Scholarship expand your opportunity via TWC and career exploration?
The support of the Prudential scholarship expanded my opportunity via TWC and career exploration because without the scholarship I would have not been able to do this program. Money has always been an issue which this scholarship allowed me to do something I thought I would have never done.
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