Hello! My name is Yezenia, and I am a rising junior at the University of Michigan as well as a political science major. This summer I have been granted the opportunity to intern at the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in downtown Chicago. This national non-profit, civil rights organization is the leading “Latino legal voice for civil rights”, and they work on legal cases in four main areas: Education, employment, immigrant rights, and voting rights.
Leading up to my internship with the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund in downtown Chicago, I was extremely nervous because I had never interned for an attorney before, let alone at a public interest firm, and they usually do not have undergraduate interns. However, I accepted the opportunity to work for MALDEF with an open-mind and an appetite for growth as well as a chance to experience the daily life of an attorney. Along with this mindset, came a long list of expectations about how I expected a legal working environment to operate. Competitive, fast-paced, serious, and quiet made the top of my list. Walking through the revolving doors that read ‘Federal Building’ in large letters directly above only intensified my worries. However, the environment turned out to be warm and friendly; resembling the character of the attorneys at the office. As I walked into the office, I was instantly greeted by one of the attorneys and given a tour of the office. Afterwards, I was assigned to an office with a desktop and given plenty of time to settle in. Before being assigned a task, I was thoroughly briefed on the facts of a case, dealing with a discrimination incident at a public school, and given an example format to complete the assignment. The attorney ensured to give me all the resources possible since she knew I had no experience crafting professional letters regarding school districts. As I am given new tasks, including data collection and background research on legal cases, I have been guided throughout the process but given plenty of ownership over what part of the legal cases I want to investigate. Being an intern for these past few days has been overwhelming yet very exciting, and I am looking forward to continue working with MALDEF attorneys over the summer to find solutions to issues dealing with immigrant rights, voting rights, education, and employment.