Fatima Dilek

Fatima DilekCorporation for Enterprise Development

Washington, D.C.

Fatima Dilek is a legal intern at Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) in Washington, D.C. CFED is a non-profit organization that empowers low- and moderate-income households by advancing policies and programs that help them buy homes, pursue higher education, become entrepreneurs, and save for the future.

July 1, 2013

At CFED my primary focus is state and local policy work. Prior to this internship, I had never been exposed to policy work or any work that was in state or local policy level. During my first week, I was asked to look at the CFED's website and internal documents and familiarize myself with the material. I spent most of my time looking at a statistical data collection called the Scorecard and at Asset Limit data in different states.

During the second and third week, I dived into more detail and started my research. The interns had training sessions with different departments at CFED. The interns came from all over the country and mostly had studied public administration and are either doing their master's degrees or PHDs. I am the only legal intern at CFED.

During the third week, I was also able to join in a two-day meeting with organizations from other states, who were invited by CFED to go and meet their local representatives on the Hill. I was fortunate enough to go with my supervisor and meet with one senator, two representatives, and their legal assistants. I found it very empowering to know that CFED is a strong supporter of local non-profit organizations and is helpful in getting these organizations; voices heard on the Hill.

During week four and five, I concentrated on some new policy areas that could possibly be included in the Scorecard this year, such as immigration reform. I also collected data and looked into state and local laws regarding changes in asset limits, college saving incentives, education, and protection for low-income renters.

In addition to working at CFED, I am also participating in the Summer in D.C. program. I go to class twice a week, which is taught by Professor Bondy, who used to be an attorney for the Department of Justice and currently is working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

My experience in D.C. has been amazing and I look forward to my last four weeks here at CFED.

July 18, 2013

I have enjoyed every single day at my internship and cannot believe how quickly time went by. I think back and reflect on things that I have learned, if I met my goal, how this opportunity has helped clarify and solidify my commitment to public interest work, and what I feel the impact of my work was to the CFED, as well as other organizations.

During this internship I have learned that working in a team-like environment as well as individually is one of the most effective ways to get work done. Most of the time during this internship, I was on my own after receiving instructions on a project. I was in charge of about 12 questions that needed to be analyzed and updated. My internship publishes the Assets & Opportunity Scorecard every year, where states are ranked based on their asset-building policies and my job is to collect this data, which is a mixture between legal and statistical research.

I started by looking at last year’s data and looking at the sources to see if they have been updated or not. If the source was updated, I created new charts and imported the most current information. If the source was not updated, then I would contact the specific departments in each state to see when the most up-to-date information would be available. A lot of the work I did encompassed state laws as well as local laws. Since state and local organizations rely on the information provided by CFED, I also checked to see how these organizations were promoting new policy in their community to help improve the lives of their citizens.

It has been an invaluable experience for me to be a part of this amazing team. My goal was to really become more aware of how policy works, especially in Washington, D.C. and how this impacts other states. I met my goal of wanting to be familiar with a non-conventional way of using my law degree. Because of this experience, I now know that I want to serve my community by doing public interest work. My most memorable experience was going to the Capitol Hill with leading non-profit organizations and meeting with Senators and House of Representatives.

As an attorney, I want to be dedicated to my community and make a positive impact on people's lives. I am happy to see that my work here at CFED has helped other organizations have access to the most current data and laws available. I look forward to finishing law school in one year and using this experience to the benefit of my community.