Since 1992, the HACU National Internship Program (HNIP) has been connecting Hispanic college students with federal agencies and private corporations across the United States. The nation’s largest Hispanic college internship program, HNIP has changed the lives of more than 5,000 students, including Miguel de Zubeldia, a junior at the University of Arizona majoring in entrepreneurship and business economics and minoring in Spanish literature. With the help of HNIP, Miguel is realizing his dream of helping people from all walks of life. Read more about his story below.
Describe your childhood.
I had big dreams as a child—starting a business, being my own boss, just knowing that I had to do something big in life. My mother, who is from Maryland, and is the only person in my immediate family to complete college, and my father, who is from Guadalajara, Mexico, encouraged me to do whatever made me happy. To ensure that my younger sisters (ages 16 and seven) and I experienced the best of both cultures, we lived and attended school in Guadalajara for the first half of each school year, then we moved to Tucson for the second half of the school year. Not only did this experience expand my horizons and give me a worldly outlook at a young age, it also taught me that “home” is not a place, it’s a state of mind.
What factors did you consider when choosing an undergraduate school and major?
Near the end of high school, I sent my enrollment and financial aid applications to a few colleges, but I still wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to college, or even if I could afford it. Within a couple of weeks, the University of Arizona informed me that I had received a tuition waiver! UA was close to my home-away-from-home in Tucson, and they were willing to pay for my education. My decision was made, and my path was starting to take shape.
Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, I briefly considered majoring in performing arts. But I knew that if I wanted to support myself—and eventually a family—I had to choose a major that would give me a well-rounded education with the flexibility to do many things. Looking around me, I noticed that everything revolved around business, from commerce to entertainment to medicine, so I decided to take some business classes. Even though I wasn’t exactly sure of my future career, I knew I could use what I learned in these classes in any kind of work.
The idea of setting my own schedule, being my own boss, and determining how much money I would make appealed to me. I also took a particular interest in my economics classes, so I decided to double-major in entrepreneurship and economics. As luck would have it, the University of Arizona’s entrepreneurship program is the second-best in the nation.
Tell me about your internship experience(s):
I work in the office of Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs (C/HSA), an on-campus organization that provides cultural and academic support, referral services, and community outreach programs for Hispanic students. C/HSA was promoting HNIP, so it was my job to educate students on the program. HNIP sparked my interest, and I decided to submit an application.
I was studying in Spain when HACU notified me that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) wanted to schedule a phone interview with me. Because Spain is six hours ahead of Washington, DC, the interview was in the middle of the night. I didn’t want to disturb my host family, so I made the call outside. It was freezing, it was late, and it probably wasn’t too safe, but it was worth it! I received an e-mail offering me the FDIC internship, and I immediately notified HACU that I would accept the position.
What does the FDIC do?
Most people have heard of the FDIC, but not many people know what they do. The FDIC is a governmental agency that insures deposits in banks and thrift institutions for up to $100,000; identifies, monitors, and addresses risks associated with those deposits; and limits the effect on the economy when a bank or thrift institution fails. The FDIC has earned a prestigious reputation, as no depositor has lost a single cent of insured funds as a result of failure since its start in 1934.
During my ten-week internship, I worked on the Procurement Credit Card Audit which takes place every two years. I analyzed millions of dollars of receipts. Much to my managers’ surprise, I actually caught a few errors that may have otherwise caused problems. For my diligence and determination, I was awarded Employee of Month. The $20 gift certificate to Chili’s was nice, but the sense of accomplishment I felt inside was my real reward. I worked with lovely people and gained so much experience, especially compared to other internships, where making copies and stapling papers are the only “hands-on” training a student receives.
What are your thoughts about HACU and HNIP?
I don’t have enough good things to say about HACU. It’s nice to find an organization that supports the largest—and most underrepresented—minority in this country. The best thing about HACU is that they don’t give you everything on a silver platter. They put the opportunities in front of you, but it is your job to reach out and grab them. HACU gives me the initiative to do better. If I don’t try as hard and my GPA drops, I know the great opportunities offered by HACU won’t be available to me. HNIP is such a generous offering by HACU. They are truly contributing to a better tomorrow by strategically placing Hispanic students in government positions today, enriching the cultural composition of this nation’s leaders.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m looking into an internship opportunity sponsored by The University of Arizona’s entrepreneurship college. The college sends six doctorate students, four MBA students, and one or two undergrads to Mexico to develop, analyze, market, and sell inventions or discoveries made by scientists in Mexico’s top universities. I’d also like to start a business, perhaps in real estate, and see how it goes while I’m still in school. Eventually, I may also apply for a semester-long internship through HNIP. It will postpone my graduation, but I’m in no hurry. If an opportunity will expand my horizons and better prepare me for my career—whatever it may be—I’ll take it!
Any advice for college-bound Hispanic students?
Look at college as more than just grades, classes, and a degree. It is a societal structure full of experiences, opportunities, and adventures you’ll never find in the “real world.” The world is much bigger than your own back yard, and life will present you with many opportunities. It is your responsibility to seize them.
To learn more about how HNIP can help you reach your goals, call (202) 467-0893 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 467-0893 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 467-0893 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 467-0893 end_of_the_skype_highlighting begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (202) 467-0893 end_of_the_skype_highlighting or visit www.hnip.net.