Trading College Avenue for K Street
Throughout the fall 2009 semester, while most NSU students awoke to the South Florida sun each morning, Max Hyman rose to the political hustle and bustle of Washington, D.C.
Hyman, a junior legal studies major and Honors student in the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, spent the semester as a Washington Center intern working as a legislative aide for Financial Executives International (FEI). FEI is a nonprofit association for chief financial officers, treasurers, and other corporate executives. A think tank of sorts, FEI also serves as a research foundation and lobbying firm. Hyman worked in FEI's advocacy office, located in downtown D.C. on K Street. The office confronts issues in Congress that are important to the business community.
Throughout the year, the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars offers students from across the country the chance to gain valuable, hands-on experience as interns at government organizations in and around the nation's capital.
Working under the guidance of his faculty mentors—Gary Gershman, J.D., Ph.D., associate professor; and Charles Zelden, Ph.D., professor; in the college's Division of Humanities—Hyman discovered and seized this extraordinary opportunity to acquire practical skills and knowledge in the legal field. According to the college's faculty and administration, it came as no surprise to learn of Hyman's participation in the Washington Center internship program.
"Max is a very motivated and ambitious student who took this opportunity to have a hands-on learning experience in Washington, D.C., to get exposed to national government processes and the roles of lawyers and legal experts in these processes," said Marlisa Santos, Ph.D., director of the Division of Humanities.
"The Washington Center internship program is a great way for undergraduate students to broaden their horizons in their fields of study," said Don Rosenblum, Ph.D., dean of the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences. "Max's experiences in the program reflect the opportunities available to students through internships as they also remain active and dedicated in their scholarship."
On the road to law school, Hyman conducted legal research and covered issues surrounding the current financial regulatory reform movement in Congress. One of his primary projects for FEI was to draft an internal practitioners' guide to government contracts.
The comprehensive publication broke down the roles of each member in the government contracts regulatory network—an extensive network of agencies and offices, including (among many others) the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), U.S. Government Accountability Office, House Armed Services Committee, and the U.S. Department of Energy—and explained how those agencies interact with government contractors in the pre-award, post-award, and closeout processes.
"The guide is a dynamic educational resource for the office and FEI's committee on government business—needless to say, it's huge," Hyman said. "It was mentally taxing, but my will and my curiosity kept me on track."
Though the project was challenging, it was equally rewarding. During his research, Hyman had the opportunity to converse with high-ranking government officials, such as the deputy director of the DCAA.
The Court and The Capitol
Hyman also was asked to research a legal case involving FEI, in which the company is challenging the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, a regulatory entity that was created to prevent accounting fraud in a post-Enron society. Hyman's work will help educate FEI's staff on the background and upcoming proceedings of the case, which will be heard in the Supreme Court. Though the research directly aids FEI, the project has been tailored to also serve Hyman's career interests.
"I worked directly with the manager of the office, a two-time Georgetown Law graduate," Hyman said. "He assigned me tasks which he felt would best prepare me for law school, and he was highly invested in my experience there."
In addition to helping out at FEI's office, Hyman also attended Committee hearings on Capitol Hill, usually twice a week. Far from a fly on the wall, Hyman not only attended the extensive meetings—which can last up to six hours—but also recorded notes and minutes.
"It's basically like dropping into a required six-hour lecture in advanced economics!" he said. "Two committees I attended were the House Financial Services Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture. Believe me; they don't talk about the health of chickens all day!"
The Classroom and The Community
Just because Hyman was away from the NSU campus doesn't mean he wasn't in class. While in D.C., he enrolled in a class on foreign policy, which culminated with a policy proposal. Hyman's goal: to propose changes in the nation's actions against the government of Myanmar, one of the world's most oppressive regimes.
"Since the military coup in 1960, the Myanmese people have been subjected to living in a state with the second worst healthcare system in the world, under a regime with—according to a United Nations estimate—has the worst possible record on civil rights," Hyman explained. "I interviewed U.N. officials and professors in the world's highest-rated school for foreign relations, the [Edmund A. Walsh] School of Foreign Service at Georgetown, in order to recommend a solution to our country's failed policies."
Though accomplishing so much in the first half of the semester, Hyman's work in Washington didn't stop there. While in the nation's capital, Hyman also spent time tutoring elementary school children in Washington, D.C., public schools—the worst school system in the United States.
Later, Hyman returned to Capitol Hill to meet with Congressmen and their staffs as he examined reforms on credit-rating agencies, over-the-counter derivatives markets, and the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, one of President Obama's key policy initiatives.
It's clear that Max Hyman's semester-long experiences in Washington, D.C. will no doubt benefit him for a lifetime. The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars offers year-round internships for students of all majors and backgrounds. For more information, or to apply for an internship, visit www.twc.edu/students/application_procedures.shtml.