Last summer, Amanda Ravich worked at the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene, General Counsel Office. She described it as an incredibly interesting and rewarding experience. At the time, the Department was focused on devising the much-publicized regulations on the sizes of sugary drinks. Amanda enjoyed being on the inside of such a high profile issue because it allowed to her to observe just how badly the news media can distort and mischaracterize an issue. She prepared memos anticipating the litigation that would arise from the regulations. Through this work, she realized the importance of Legislation and Regulation. As she explained, “I don’t know that I would have understood all of the differences between regulatory rulemaking and legislative policymaking if I had not taken Leg Reg.” Indeed, for her memos, she had to research New York City’s and the State of New York’s counterparts to the Administrative Procedure Act. Still, Amanda’s work was not confined to this project. Instead, much to her satisfaction, she had the opportunity to work on a wide-range of projects including a school health policy initiative and a mobile food vending initiative.
Amanda credits her exposure to a wide range of issue areas to the diversity within the Department of Health coupled with the small size of the internship program; there was only one other intern. So, between the two of them they had to cover the major initiatives being pursued by the Department. She thereby worked closely with the Head General Counsel. She was not, however, subjected to the disadvantages of a small internship program. Instead, since the New York City Law Department (which represents the City’s agencies, including the Department of Health) has a large internship program, Amanda was able to connect with that network of interns and attend their events and gatherings. It was the best of both worlds.
Amanda advises 1Ls to be proactive in their internship search and not be scared to “think outside of the box” as it can lead to phenomenal experiences like her own. To get her internship, Amanda had to reach out to the Department of Mental Health and Hygiene because it does not have a formal internship program. She encourages 1Ls to do the same. She also believes that 1Ls should pursue opportunities that they are passionate about, even if they are considered “less prestigious” than traditional alternatives.
Written by OPIA 1L Section Representative Tharuni Jayaraman