My name is Jessi Anderson and I’m a rising senior at Whitman. This summer I’m working in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Our office houses the federal prosecutors for the District and, most importantly, the federal government. Over the past few weeks I’ve had some truly unique experiences, so let me walk y’all through a day in the life of my summer internship!
My mornings start pretty early because I have to commute across the city. I’m living at George Washington University alongside hundreds of other summer interns in the neighborhood of Foggy Bottom, which is only a fifteen minute walk from the National Mall. After I get dressed in my business attire I make my way to the Metro, which is the subway system in D.C. Coming from Houston, a city with next to no public transit, the Metro has been an adjustment, but my commute always brings interesting people into my everyday life. It takes me about twenty minutes to get to my office, which is in Judiciary Square.
On any given day my workload is different. Recently I’ve been working with an Assistant United States Attorney on a large case he inherited when he came to work in the office. I’ve spent several of the past few days reorganizing and summarizing the case file for him. Another intern and I are in the process of making a timeline for the events of the case, which have played out over several years. I can’t give many details on the case itself, considering the privileged information it contains, but my attorney is defending the federal government in a claim of employment discrimination. Another, similar case is going to trial this week so several other interns and I moved up to the Moot Courtroom to watch a mock direct and cross examination for one of the witnesses. Afterward the attorneys asked us our opinions on their arguments, which was a great opportunity to apply some of what I’ve learned in my position.
When our days are a little on the slower side, we’re lucky enough to work across the street from the Superior Courthouse, the District Courthouse, and the Appellate Courthouse. That means that between our own case prep, we can watch trials as they play out. Last week we slogged through the pouring rain to watch the opening arguments of a double homicide. Observing the attorneys in action allows us to see the work in an entirely new element. Watching a jury trial is not at all unlike watching a stage play. The attorneys are actors, reciting prepared remarks and improvising as witnesses bear their humanity for all in the courtroom to see. My experiences in court these past few weeks have certainly been some of the most intense and exciting.
Sometimes, as governmental interns, we have special opportunities that involve little field trips. Three weeks ago the Department of Justice, which is the parent agency of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, had a program for all of its interns. We actually went to hear Attorney General Jeff Sessions give a lecture and Q&A. It was certainly an interesting experience to hear remarks by someone who is so embroiled in current political events. Similarly, last week my office took a tour of the Capitol Building, which was a great opportunity to gain additional insight into the operations of the federal government. This coming week we’re having a lunch with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. himself, Mr. Channing Phillips. Mr. Phillips was appointed by President Obama and hearing him speak is sure to be a treat!
After a medley of all that excitement I make my way home on the Metro to make dinner, go to bed, and get up to do it all again the next day. My evenings and weekends have been full of coworker dinners, trips to Smithsonian museums, walks to Georgetown and along the mall, and so much more. My time in D.C. thus far has been rewarding and exciting, so I’m eager to see what the next few weeks have in store!
Experiences like Jessi’s are made possible by the Whitman Internship Grant, which provides funding for students to participate in unpaid internships at both for-profit and non-profit organizations. To learn how you could secure a Whitman Internship Grant or host a Whitman intern at your organization, click here or contact Assistant Director for Internship Programs Victoria Wolff.