This summer, I am interning at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in Boston. MCAD is the state’s main civil rights law enforcement agency. Its mission is to eliminate discrimination in housing, education, and employment, as well as other areas. The Commission accepts and investigates complaints of discrimination. MCAD also performs outreach education to groups that may be likely to experience discrimination, and provides workplace-based training for employees and employers. Here is a link to the Commission’s homepage, which provides information for employees, individuals, and employers about discrimination law.
One of the conference rooms where we had housing discrimination training.
As an Outreach Intern, I will be working on the Commission’s SEED (Spreading Education to End Discrimination) project, which aims to provide information about civil rights to members of populations that are likely to experience discrimination. For the next few weeks, my responsibilities will include contacting various community organizations that serve marginalized populations, and planning outreach programs with them. As I begin to schedule these programs, I will travel to these sites to give informational presentations. This is a brief description of the intake process, for an individual who decides to file a complaint.
I found this internship through idealist.org. I was looking for a job that combined advocacy, social justice, and the law, and this one seemed particularly intriguing. I emailed the Director my resume, cover letter, and a writing sample, and she responded requesting an interview. About a week after my interview, and after some dialogue between us, the Director emailed me offering the position.
My first week included four days of intensive training. I learned a great deal about discrimination law, the complaint process at MCAD (from the initial complaint through the investigative hearings), and presentation skills. While I received a lot of important information that I have to remember and understand, the training was very interesting, and will be useful when I inform others about their rights, and their ability to utilize the Commission in seeking justice.
The pamphlets and handouts that we give to the participants during our presentations.
There are only three other undergraduates interning at the Commission, as well as several law school students. I learned what brought each student to this opportunity as well as the particular roles and responsibilities of each position.
My expectations for this summer include improving my verbal presentation skills, and learning how to succinctly explain people’s civil rights in a way that is understandable for people of various backgrounds. I also hope to expand my own knowledge and understanding of discrimination law. Mostly, though, I want to leave the internship feeling that I have actually helped people more effectively stand up for their rights, and not feel powerless at the hands of discriminatory landowners or employers.