Meet Our Interns: Christina Payamps-Smith

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Spring intern Christina Payamps-Smith, a master’s degree student at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, shares her experiences as an intern with us today.

For as long as I can remember I have had an interest in social justice issues. After graduating from college, like most recent graduates, I contemplated what to do next that involved my interests. After some searching, I quickly found an AmeriCorps position with an affordable housing developer. Since this time, my interest in social justice was pointed to affordable housing.

Using this experience as a jump start, I was eager to learn more about affordable housing and the environment in which housing organizations exist. I started working on my masters in public administration to gain additional knowledge. After several family moves, I found myself living in the D.C. metro area and looking for opportunities to supplement my coursework.  In my search I came across the internship openings at NLIHC and thought, after writing multiple class papers using NLIHC’s publications as resources, that this opportunity would be a perfect fit.

The experience has already proved to be exciting just a few weeks into my internship. I have had the opportunity to attend coalition meetings, meet with Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, attend Congressional committee hearings and interact with people who are dedicated to affordable housing. My time here has educated me on the legislative process and all the people and issues that are involved. Many of the projects that I have worked on so far challenge me to develop my skills and learn new things.

For anyone considering an internship with NLIHC, I would say it is a worthwhile experience. This internship offers an opportunity to build professional skill sets and to truly gain knowledge in all areas of affordable housing.

Meet Our Interns: Max Steininger

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Fall intern Max Steininger, a political science major at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., shares his experiences as an intern with us today.

Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.

Before heading to college in Washington, D.C., the need for low income housing had never really been of issue of great importance to me. Growing up in suburban Iowa, I never really considered how important affordable housing is. After a limited amount of time in D.C., I realized how widespread a problem the lack of housing is in all regions in the country. Without a home, how can anyone be expected to improve their standing in education, income or health?

These growing concerns coupled with my interest in policy and governmental relations lead me to finding the internship position at NLIHC. Since joining, I’ve experienced a great combination of direct work and discussion in regard to housing in addition to an extensive amount of work researching and compiling information about how housing organizations can best advocate for the cause.

Though I joined because of my interest in policy work, interning with NLIHC has shown me the extensive landscape of nonprofits, advocacy groups and cause-driven coalitions. The number of acronyms I was presented with seemed a bit daunting at first, but continually hearing about and interacting with such a large group of organizations helped me to learn the basic structures of nonprofits and their partner organizations well.

In addition to learning the importance and scope of nonprofit advocacy groups in government, interning has done more to teach me about the actual processes that take place within government more than any class ever could. From attending a meeting with the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to just having extensive discussions with the members of the NLIHC policy team, my experience has allowed me to be surrounded by intelligent people who are passionate, well-informed, and insightful about a meaningful issue. No other work I’ve done has been so educational in a field I’m passionate about and simultaneously been so beneficial to the human condition.

Meet our Interns: Isabella Blanchard

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our fall interns have been with us for a few weeks and are excited to share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.

My name is Isabella Blanchard and I am (quite unexpectedly) an Outreach intern. My experience with the National Low Income Housing Coalition has been whirlwind, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

NLIHC and I crossed paths for the first time in July of this year. I was exploring the Washington Post Jobs website, desperate for something to jump out at me, and at number #106 of 1,000+ entries I found it. My parents have always instilled a sense of giving back in my siblings and me, and in a city that sometimes seems to forget that idea, NLIHC seemed the perfect fit.

Every Wednesday and Thursday I am up with the rest of the working world (I haven’t quite perfected the art of early-morning wake-ups yet, but it’s getting easier) and spend my day at the office across from the Treasury. Each day is a test of my ability to learn on the go, to work with people and to problem solve–skills that will serve me in my career no matter which path I take. It has been easy to work with the staff at NLIHC. Everyone has the same goal in mind, and President & CEO Sheila Crowley directs the group with humor and strength.

If you’re looking to intern in D.C., NLIHC will challenge you, but I have found, especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, that the knowledge there is an organization working on behalf of the housing needs of the lowest income Americans, and you can be part of it, is a great motivator. And there’s the added bonus of the city; buy yourself a Metro card and enjoy.

Meet Our Interns: Mary Donoghue

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our fall interns have been with us for a few weeks and are excited to share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’re now accepting applicants for spring 2013 internships.

I’ve been interested in housing for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Chicago’s northern suburbs, there were, and continue to be, intense fights over affordable housing every few years. Seeing so many people opposed to any sort of affordable housing always puzzled me. In 2008 I moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University, and quickly tuned in to arguments about the city’s recent demographic changes, the mayor’s policies and new developments that were popping up all across the city. A lot of the arguments had to do with rising costs, displacement and other housing issues.

Intrigued by these debates, I started to take classes on community development, geography, social policy and more. I declared a major in sociology and American studies, and eventually wrote my undergraduate thesis on gentrification in D.C. After spending my final semester completing that project, I knew I wanted to take part in further research on housing, policy, poverty and how they intersect. The only problem? I didn’t have much experience, especially with quantitative research. Up to that point, my focus was on activism and community organizing, both on and off campus.

While looking for a job over the summer, I came across a post on Idealist.org for internships with the National Low Income Housing Coalition. After reading more about NLIHC, I knew I needed to apply to be a research intern. I knew that, if I got the internship, the research I did would go toward promoting socially just policy.  At the start of my internship, I was immediately involved in an important project: updating an NLIHC report cataloguing state-funded rental assistance programs. For this project I contacted program officials across the country to find out more about their programs and then interviewed administrators by phone and email.

In addition to this project, I participate in the everyday activities of NLIHC in many ways. I help answer questions and data requests from state partners, and I write articles about current research for the weekly newsletter, Memo to Members, a task that the total research nerd in me loves. At NLIHC, I’ve been able to hone both my qualitative and quantitative research skills, which will serve me well in the future, as I plan to start graduate school in the fall. Perhaps most importantly, working with NLIHC constantly reaffirms my belief that decent, affordable housing is fundamental to other aspects of life: health, safety, well-being, employment, education access and more.

My internship is still in progress, but so far, being a research intern these past few months has really been a great experience. The research team and the rest of the staff at NLIHC are supportive and always willing to answers the questions I inevitably have about both housing policy and research methods. To those seeking internships: if you are at all interested in housing, social justice, research or any combination of those subjects, definitely apply to NLIHC. In addition to developing valuable research skills, you will learn more about the intricacies of affordable housing, have the chance to attend meetings and events all around town and of course, you’ll get to work with some great people!

Meet Our Interns: Shira Steinberg

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is fortunate to have great interns every semester and summer. Our fall interns have been with us for a few weeks and are excited to share their experiences at the Coalition with you. Think interning with the Coalition might be for you? You’re in luck! We’ll begin accepting intern applicants this Friday.

Finding an internship during the school year is a challenge. An internship has to accommodate the life of a student— multiple exams and essays stacked on one day, many a sleepless night, the occasional mandatory meeting—as well as have the authenticity of a “real world” job. As if that weren’t demanding enough, an internship should relate to what one would like to do with one’s life. Thus, despite receiving many internship offers, from working as a beekeeper to tutoring elementary schoolers, none of these prospective internships really resonated with me as a Government and Politics major. In addition, an internship should be something that you can not only learn from, but something that you can be passionate about. Thus, the summer before school started, the daunting challenge of finding an internship that possessed all these qualities loomed large.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to find the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s internship program. Suddenly, finding the perfect internship no longer seemed impossible. As one of the Outreach Interns I am involved daily in the inner workings of NLIHC, which has truly allowed me to understand more about public policy in the nation and how constituents work to advocate programs to the federal government. And, yes, this is much more applicable to my major in Government and Politics than raising bees would have been.

This internship has taught me the importance and role that housing plays in today’s society. Every day someone is unable to pay rent because housing in this country is unaffordable. Through my time at NLIHC I have learned that this problem affects everyone in this country, rich and poor. The people at NLIHC have decided that this issue needs to be addressed, no matter how long it takes to change it for the better. Having an opportunity to work among some of the most dedicated and passionate people, who work to make this nation a better place, has been inspirational.

Not many people get the opportunity to intern somewhere like this; I am lucky I have had this chance. My advice? Don’t let an opportunity like this slip by. There are only so few chances to work somewhere that will understand your needs while fostering a passion for helping others through civic means.