Ben Platt ’23

U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Inspector General, Washington, D.C.

This summer I had the honor of working as a legal intern in the Office of Chief Counsel at the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Transportation. Interning in the executive branch of the federal government has long been a goal of mine, and I am glad I was able to contribute to the work of the Biden-Harris administration. The Office of Chief Counsel serves as the in-house counsel for the Office of Inspector General. The office ensures that the Office of Inspector General follows all federal law regarding the functioning of inspectors general and employment law as a federal agency. In addition, the Office of Inspector General is a law enforcement agency with authority granted by the Inspector General Act of 1978. This means ensuring laws and regulations surrounding federal law enforcement are being followed by our criminal investigators. The Office of Inspector General is mainly comprised of auditors and criminal investigators. Auditors examine the functioning of the Department of Transportation internally and in its contractors and grantees. Its mission is to root out waste, fraud and abuse in the client agency.

I had the opportunity to work on a number of projects to help advance the work of the Office of Chief Counsel. One main project I worked on was a criminal prosecution of a helicopter leasing company. The company had defrauded the Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB, leading to the deaths of nine individuals and the serious injuries of many more. I supported the lawyers in our office leading the prosecution. I helped edit jury instructions, sat in on witness preparation and made sure our system for tracking court filings was up-to-date. I also witnessed unscrupulous, dishonest and unethical attorneys, showing me what the underbelly of the legal profession was like.

This internship leaves me committed to a career in public service. Seeing the hard work of the staff in my office in order to achieve meaningful results for the American people showed me that there is an intrinsic value to working in the public sector. I appreciated that I got to go to work every day and solve problems that made ordinary people’s lives better. Working in a legal office in particular was eye-opening because I got to see what the day-to-day of being a lawyer in the federal government is like. While the pay may not be as competitive as in the private sector, there is often more job security and a better work-life balance. I was able to get coffee chats with many of the lawyers in the office, all of whom were great mentors and helped explain their path to working at the Department of Transportation.

I would like to thank the Estate of George Mead and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for this opportunity. I would not have been able to do it without their support and this experience has greatly helped my career preparation and interest in serving in government.