Ella Marx ’24

U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

This summer, I was an intern in the justice department’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in Washington, D.C. As an intern, I primarily helped OPA by working on releases, preparing news clips and handling inquiries from the national news media. Since much of the recent news about the DOJ has come from releases issued by OPA, this work has given me a deeper understanding of how information is interpreted and repackaged as news coverage. The pace and nature of the work at OPA also felt different from that of classes at Williams, since projects during my internship were often pretty spontaneous and required quick turnaround, so I became more familiar with having more fast-paced, collaborative work to focus on than I typically would at Williams. My supervisors were great resources; they often looked for opportunities—like meetings to attend or projects to help out with, even outside OPA—for interns, so that we gained exposure to other components within the justice department.

One of my favorite things about interning in OPA was assisting with organizing, and attending, press conferences during which leadership addressed members of the media and public to communicate relevant DOJ initiatives. During press conferences I was able to listen to the kinds of questions that journalists asked about newly announced charges or task forces, for example, which allowed me to observe how DOJ initiatives and announcements are understood and portrayed by the national news media in real time.

I’m also grateful for the opportunity to work in person full time and spend time with the other interns and members of OPA in the office’s physical space. I really appreciated the office’s close-knit environment, and I found that working in close proximity to the office’s press assistants and my co-interns was productive, supportive and fun. Spending the summer in Washington, D.C., was also an excellent opportunity to experience living in a different city and to immerse myself in a historical part of the country. With my roommate, who is also a rising junior at Williams, I was able to connect with other students at the college who were spending the summer in D.C. and heard Senator Chris Murphy ’96 and Associate Deputy Secretary for the Department of the Interior Sarah Greenberger ’96 talk about their careers at a panel hosted by the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. None of these experiences would have been possible without support from Williams. I would like to thank the Estate of George Mead and the ’68 Center for Career Exploration for helping me pursue my internship this summer.

Outside the projects that interns get to work on, a highlight of working in OPA was working alongside people—both in political and career roles—who are dedicated to public service. Everyone I worked with at OPA cares deeply about producing good work that clearly communicates the department’s activities and priorities. Through this internship, I realized that I want to help pursue justice and equity through a career in public service, and I feel fortunate that the education and experience I’ve gained at Williams will help me do so.