Matthew Donaldson '10: Inside AID
I took an unpaid internship position in the U.S. Agency for International Development's Office of the General Counsel. I split my time between two departments — the Ethics and Administration Department and the Legislation and Policy Department. Because the office is so small and so well-integrated, I was able to participate in a large number of diverse projects, ranging from research on proposed legislation impacting the agency to employment litigation. For example, I did some research on budgetary changes in the upcoming fiscal year that would impact the agency's operations and programs. I was also allowed to help draft several motions with respect to an employment lawsuit against the agency.
One project that I was allowed to play a particularly large role in was an employment discrimination arbitration in which I assisted an attorney in preparing the agency's case. I interviewed the witnesses, prepared much of the brief we presented to the arbitrator, and was allowed to play a large part in developing the agency's strategy in the case. I was surprised throughout the process because of how much responsibility I was given as an intern and learned over the course of the summer that having that level of responsibility is typical for a young lawyer working for the federal government due to the size and resources of government agencies. I think that this is perhaps one of the biggest differences between working in the public and private sectors. I met several young lawyers who told me that working in government service had been helpful in their careers because of how quickly they had been given significant responsibility.
The lawyers in the office were very friendly and very accommodating, and even the acting general counsel made a concerted effort to make all the interns feel at home. The interns were also encouraged to sit in on various congressional hearings and political talks and speeches, including one by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that was given at agency, which we all took full advantage of. All and all, it was an very educational experience and one that encouraged me to pursue a career in government service.