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

Notes from the Field: Maureen Mentrek '16

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Student Intern: Maureen Mentrek '16

Internship Organization:
US Supreme Court, Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The Supreme Court is the highest court of the judicial branch of the US government. The Office of the Counselor to the Chief Justice is headed by the Counselor to the Chief Justice, Jeff Minear. The Counselor's role is to support Chief Justice Roberts in all of his extrajudicial responsibilities including overseeing the Smithsonian Institute and the entirety of the judicial branch.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
My chief responsibility is crafting the Judicial News Summary, a daily memo highlighting the major news stories involving the judiciary, the Supreme Court, and the legal field. Additional responsibilities include researching foreign legal systems, drafting memoranda to prepare for international visitors to the court, attending oral arguments, and assisting with research projects.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
I felt incredibly nervous, excited, and thankful that I did not wear heels on my first day. The Supreme Court is imposing in both size and prestige, and I was incredibly nervous. I soon learned that the Court and the office I work in operate much like a family. After meeting many people whose names I soon forgot and getting lost more times than I would like to admit, my first day was definitely imposing but set the tone for a great internship.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
The most rewarding part of my internship experience thus far has been the ability to attend oral arguments. Being at the court for two of the biggest cases of the term, King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges, has been incredible. Having the opportunity to hear some of the most sophisticated oral advocates, witnessing the passions and protests on both sides, and watching history unfold has been unforgettable.

What challenges have you faced so far?
As embarrassing as it sounds, the main challenge I faced was learning how to use the office phone system. Managing the phones is not one of my frequent responsibilities, so on the occasions I do transfer a call it is always a gamble to see if I inadvertently hang up on someone, but my fellow intern and I have been able to navigate that territory together.

Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I hope to forge lasting professional connections.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
Network, network, network! It may feel difficult, uncomfortable, or disingenuous at first, but networking is definitely a must. I found myself surrounded by intelligent and accomplished people at work each day and found that most were very willing to offer their experience and advice. There are also plenty of panels, receptions, debates, and lectures happening all the time in Washington, DC that are great opportunities to meet new people, learn about interesting topics, and grab free food!

Maureen Mentrek '16 was recently named the 2015-2016 Presidential Fellow for the Center for the Study for the Presidency and Congress.

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.



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