Julia Williams ’14 accepted an internship at The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) in Boston, Mass. because she hoped to get hands-on experience in the legal field while determining if non-profit work fit her interests.
The IIIC began as a legal advocacy group for Irish immigrants in 1989, but has since grown to provide legal, educational and wellness services to immigrants from more than 120 countries to help aid in the process of assimilation. While Williams hoped to help make a difference in the lives of the centers clients, she was “completely blown away” by both the sheer impact of her work and by the center’s interest in making her internship as rewarding as possible. Williams’ internship is supported by a stipend from the Joseph F. Anderson ’44 Fund, which is administered by Hamilton's Maurice Horowitch Career Center.
Williams is often the first person clients see when they walk through the IIIC’s doors. She directs clients to appointments and often answers their questions about the center’s services. Her Spanish skills are particularly important in this regard as many of the IIIC’s clients are Hispanic immigrants. Williams has had many conversations with Spanish-speaking clients and has gone on to translate and transcribe Spanish documents for the IIIC.
Williams also works as a legal intern, coordinating legal staff for in-house and off-site legal clinics and coordinating participants for such clinics. She has also had the opportunity to work directly for IIIC attorneys and to work for the center’s wellness and education services divisions. While the IIIC’s services are often essential for immigrants trying to navigate complex legal and citizenship processes, sometimes people come into the center simply looking for someone to talk with about their problems. When that happens, Williams is always a patient and willing listener.
While work in non-profit foundations like the IIIC is rewarding, Williams notes that it can often involve nearly as many hours as work in private practice and considerably less payment. As such, it takes a strong sense of devotion to the center’s principals to, as she says, “advocate for the rights and respect that everyone deserves but not everyone receives.” The IIIC is not without such hardworking volunteers, and Williams is constantly inspired by her coworkers’ constant willingness to help others.
Although she has enjoyed giving back to the community throughout the course of her internship, Williams also feels that her work at the IIIC has been highly beneficial in preparing her for a career in the legal field. She described the experience, remarking, “Each hand I shake or conversation I have with a client also teaches me about the cultural, economic and social situations of people from all around the world, united by their entrance into the United States.” She recommends that other Hamilton students interested in non-profit legal advocacy consider interning at the IIIC because of the work’s great potential to bring positive change.
Williams is a graduate of the Rivers School (Mass.)