A College Experience You Can’t Replicate in a Classroom

Isabella DeFeo, Political Science major, interned with the Franklin Square Law Group gaining hands-on experience in the legal field focusing on the day-to-day life of an attorney.

Student Blog -  Isabella DeFeo

During the Fall of 2023, I spent the final semester of my undergraduate degree participating in Brockport’s SUNY Washington Internship Program. Over the course of 15 weeks, I had the privilege of living in Washington DC, working at an internship that I loved and that helped advance my educational and professional ambitions, and being surrounded by amazing peers who I can now call lifelong friends. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat, and I encourage anyone else who may be considering this program to absolutely, and without hesitation, do it.

My internship was with Franklin Square Law Group, a law firm based out of Washington DC that focuses largely on Real Estate law and Probate law but covers multiple other areas as well. I was a legal assistant for the attorney who runs the firm. What I particularly liked about this position was the amount of responsibility I was given, which both allowed me to really see what the day-to-day life of an attorney is and gave me hands-on experience in the legal field. This was very insightful to me, as I will be attending law school next Fall and plan to have a career as a lawyer. So, being able to work directly with an attorney, managing his office, getting to draft documents and file them with the courts was not only an aspect of my job, but an opportunity for me to see what I plan to do with the rest of my life. Going into this semester, I already knew that I intended to go to law school. But this internship genuinely made me even more excited to start the next chapter of my life, and it was a very gratifying way to end my undergraduate education.

It’s hard to pick a highlight from the program. Genuinely, every moment in that city was an opportunity. When I wasn’t at work, we were in class, or at museums, exploring the city or meeting new people. There is always something happening, and someone to go out and do it with you. But I will say that I really lived out my dreams by attending an oral argument at the Supreme Court. Usually, I listen to the audio recordings posted on the Supreme Court website or spend hours reading opinions for various classes. But as I lived 2 minutes down the street from the court, I was able to see one in person! It was a case regarding Section 7 of the Civil Rights Act (CRA), something that the court has been dealing with quite a few times in the past couple of years. Thus, it was interesting to listen to the attorneys who argued the case, and the questions the Justices asked, especially regarding this court’s previous decisions regarding the CRA. Also, just the act of sitting in such a historically significant room and building was invigorating.

Additionally, there were a few other experiences this semester that warrant a mention. Our class got to watch the 3rd House Speaker vote in person, which I imagine is the Political Science Majors equivalent to a Business Major watching the Stock Market Crash from the Offices on Wall Street. I also attended the White House Fall Garden Tour, where we walked the grounds, even approaching close to the Oval Office. Lastly, I appreciated living in DC due to the prevalence of activism that happens here. I try to be very attentive to social justice issues, and I like to find ways I can do more to contribute to the issues that matter to me most. At home, I live a good distance from any cities that may have protests or any in person action, so it was very nice to be able to attend something just outside my door, as well as see all the different issues that people want to bring attention to in front of our nation’s representatives.

I think what makes this program special is the sense of community learning. Everybody in this program is here for a reason, and everybody is (likely) doing this for the first time. So, you get to spend an entire semester experiencing these unique opportunities for the first time, with a group of likeminded people. It’s amazing to grow and learn with new people, who likely appreciate the experiences just as much as you. Sure, you can learn new things with a group of people sitting in a classroom, but nothing compares to exploring a new city and participating in events all together. And this goes for more than just our Friday classes. I lived with 9 other classmates for the duration of the program. And some of my favorite memories were just exploring the city on the weekends or going out to get dinner together. Every moment you have the chance to see something new, meet someone new, and experience something new. I was lucky enough to have a group of friends who wanted to make the most of every opportunity during this program. It truly was an amazing semester.

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Author: Isabella DeFeo

Posted: January 08, 2024