The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Alexandra Minsk '17

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Student Intern: Alexandra Minsk '17


Internship Organization: US Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division, Law and Policy Section How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The Law and Policy Section (LPS) within the Department of Justice, Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) supports litigators and special litigation projects, responds to legislative developments, drafts legislative proposals, and advises the Assistant Attorney General on environmental policy concerns. The LPS ultimately helps ensure the fair and impartial enforcement of environmental and resource-related legislation on behalf of the federal government.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
My responsibilities include writing legislative histories, conducting research for attorneys, tracking legislative developments, and writing memos on congressional hearings. So far, I have worked on research projects related to Indian law, animal welfare, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Department of Energy.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
On the first day of my internship, I was nervous. I was worried that I would not be able to find my building or I that would take the metro in the wrong direction, but by some miracle I managed to attend orientation and find the Main Justice building. My supervisor introduced me to each of the attorneys in my section, which made me much more comfortable.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
It is difficult to identify a single favorite experience. Thus far, I have had the opportunity to attend a moot appellate court, an environmental law conference, and Attorney General Eric Holder’s farewell address. On a daily basis, I have most enjoyed the opportunity to get to know both the section attorneys and staff. Their diverse experiences and perspectives have greatly enriched my time at the Department of Justice.

What challenges have you faced so far?
Work in the LPS ebbs and flows with congressional timetables and litigation processes. While sometimes I am juggling two or three projects at once, at other times I have less work. I have learned to juggle a significant number of tasks. I keep the attorneys updated on my progress and also let my supervisor know when I am ready for more work.

Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
Professionally, I hope to gain a better understanding of the intersection between law and public policy because I am considering a legal career in government.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
It it is at all possible to travel to a supermarket, never shop at a corner store. Corner stores in Washington DC are extremely overpriced, and the produce usually isn’t fresh! When the weather is nice, walking is often easier than taking the metro if you are familiar with the area. Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our Notes from the Field series. The Rockefeller Center helps students find, fund, and prepare for a leave-term internship experience in public policy research, public policy analysis, issue evaluation, or activities which help shape and determine public policy.

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