Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, Pittsfield, MA
As I have begun to think more and more about what I want to do after graduation, the one thing I’ve been sure of is that I want to do work that I find meaningful and that really helps the people who need it most. With this as my guiding principle, a summer internship at District Attorney Andrea Harrington’s office in Berkshire County seemed like the perfect way to explore one possible career path that would align with my goals. DA Harrington has a progressive agenda and is committed to serving all members of the community, and she has shown a dedication to finding research-based solutions for issues. Her office works to create a safe community and connect people with the services they need, in addition to representing the state in criminal cases.
At BDAO, I had the opportunity to do several different kinds of work, which meant every week was new and interesting. I did research on many different topics, including restorative justice, default warrants, and dangerousness hearings. This gave me the opportunity to practice doing legal research, and I learned how to interpret the exact language of the laws, from finding example cases, to understanding possible biases in articles and reporting, to proposing alternative solutions and supporting them with examples from other places and districts of these proposals in action. I also gained experience presenting and explaining my research when we met with our supervisors each week. The other project that I worked on was creating a community survey that encompassed many different factors, from economics to education to housing. This survey will be sent to every household in Berkshire County, and the data gained from it will help inform several different departments on these topics. I enjoyed this project because it gave me a chance to interpret, incorporate, and synthesize a variety of sources of information into a single project and then help that project evolve through various iterations of feedback. As someone with quantitative interests as well, it was also fascinating to be on the data collection side instead of the data interpretation side for the first time.
This internship really solidified my desire to work in public service, and I appreciated the chance to see and learn about so many of the different roles within the office and the wider profession in general. I now have a much better understanding of what skills and attributes different positions require, and I think I also have a stronger grasp on what is and isn’t the right fit for me in a professional setting. Because I especially enjoyed working on the survey and seeing what working with data can be like in the real world, I want to further explore what a career that blends data science with working for the public good could look like. Most of all, I am grateful to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Estate of George Mead for making this summer experience possible for me and supporting me in getting the most that I could out of this opportunity.