Summer Experiences: Federal Government in Washington, D.C.

by Liz Rademacher, Class of 2016

lizradLiz Rademacher (Class of 2016) is originally from Newtown, Pennsylvania. She graduated from American University in 2013 with degrees in Law and Society and Psychology. While attending AU, Liz worked as an intern with several different non-profit organizations and government agencies, including the Human Rights Campaign, the American Bar Association’s Death Penalty Representation Project, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. Her interests include constitutional law, civil rights law, and the intersection of gender and the law. Liz’s passion for public service has motivated her to pursue a career in law, and attending W&M has only strengthened her commitment to helping others.

When I started my summer job search last fall, I wasn’t sure what kind of work I would be doing or where I would be by the time the summer came. I went to college in Washington, DC, and one of my summer job search goals was to find a way to return to the city. I also knew that I was interested in public service and civil rights. Fortunately, William & Mary’s Office of Career Services made it incredibly easy for me to track down these kinds of jobs in the DC metro area and choose between job offers to decide which would be the best opportunity for me.

This summer I’m a legal intern with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, where I work in the Special Litigation Section (SPL). SPL is an office that investigates and litigates on behalf of the federal government in cases involving the rights of prisoners, juveniles, people with disabilities, people who interact with state and local police departments, and people accessing reproductive health care services. One of the things that I absolutely love about my internship is that it allows to do work with passionate attorneys on a variety of civil rights issues that are really important to me. In just the few weeks that I’ve been at SPL, I’ve already researched and written legal memoranda on civil rights issues, reviewed federal investigations findings, and helped attorneys to draft motions and pleadings at the trial and appellate level. And I still have five weeks left to go!

But it’s not all work. My office matched me up with two mentor attorneys who are always willing to grab coffee and chat, and I work with 12 other interns who love eating lunch by the White House or going to one of DC’s many happy hours after a day at the office. Different attorneys I work with frequently hold career development panels on judicial clerkships, resumes, and networking. DOJ also regularly organizes events for all of its interns, not just my section. A few weeks ago, I got to hear Attorney General Eric Holder speak, and just this week DOJ arranged for interns to take a Supreme Court tour. And when I’m not at the office, I’m exploring DC and taking advantage of all the things the city has to offer.

Ultimately, this internship has introduced me to some amazing people, given me plenty of practical experience working on issues that I care about, and helped me to sharpen my legal skills. Having an internship at an office with such a wonderful internship program has also proven to be a great advantage for me based on the kinds of events I’ve been to and opportunities that I’ve been given this summer. I’ve learned a lot about what it’s like to work with the federal government, and I’m looking forward to coming back to Williamsburg in the fall to continue building on what I’ve learned at DOJ!

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