August 16, 2011

Reflections of a HUD Summer Intern

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Liz, center, poses with the full Philadelphia regional team.

Today’s guest blogger is  Elizabeth Bravaco, an incoming freshman at Penn State, State College in Pennsylvania.

As the daughter of two lawyers, our dinner table is always filled with legal discussions. My father’s background in real estate law and my mother’s work as a law clerk has led to hours upon hours of endless talk about zoning law, groundwater regulations and land ordinances. Until recently, I would let the information go in one ear and out the other, promptly clearing my plate and vanishing from the room. But this past summer was different.

I began interning at HUD Philadelphia Regional Office as a high school senior in May, four weeks before graduating. In late June, I eagerly returned to work in the Field Policy & Management Division for the summer internship position. When I first walked into the Wanamaker Building, I was certain that my future would include a degree in Business Management from Penn State University. After three months at HUD, I’m no longer so sure.

Like most of my peers in high school, I had zero interest in public housing or federal programs – academics and weekend plans just seemed more important. However, over the course of three months, my interest in HUD assistance, fair housing rights and affordable housing has increased exponentially. Being a (very) small part of the regional office has taught me more things than I could ever list. Beyond memorizing the FHA call center number (1-800-225-5342, in case you were wondering) and discovering new acronyms (OHHLHC, anyone?), I gained a sense of personal responsibility. As I begin my college career in State College next week, I plan to look into elective classes about Geographic Information Systems and other such topics to help me decide if housing is a field for me.

I was so energized by the attitude that exists within HUD. No matter their position, I have found HUD employees to be dedicated, passionate workers who truly care about their line of work. I was lucky enough to travel out of the office on trips with Regional Administrator Jane Vincent and others analysts from FPM to see the change that HUD creates. Those visits gave me a huge sense of appreciation for what our government can achieve and I was consistently overwhelmed by the genuine care that HUD workers exhibit. At a time when it seems as though nothing is being accomplished in Washington, it was refreshing to see the positive impact that HUD instigates.

Though my time was short, the impression that HUD has made on me will last for years to come. My internship is an experience I will always remember fondly. I am so grateful for the opportunity and thankful for the work that went into making it possible. Oh, and my parents are thankful that I finally have a reason to hang around the dinner table.

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