A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Intersection of Media and Government

Laura Shuey-Kostelac's MA '15 Internhsip with the Department of Justice

Laura Shuey-Kostelac
September 29, 2014

I arrived for my first day as an intern in the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice amidst a flurry of activity, phone calls, and media arrivals. In a brief meeting, the office manager told me that my first day would truly be “baptism by fire,” because the Justice Department was preparing for a last-minute press conference to announce a multi-national effort to disrupt a major cybercriminal network. Although it was just my first day, I was able to assist with the assembly and distribution of press packets, escort reporters to the conference room, and attend the press conference after receiving a quick and thorough explanation of the announcement and basic protocol from a press officer.

From my exciting first day through my last, interning in the Office of Public Affairs at the Department of Justice provided me with the opportunity for a behind-the-scenes look at the intersection of media and government as well as hands-on experience working in the fast-paced environment of a federal executive department.

As a Media Affairs intern, I served as the first point of contact between the Justice Department and members of the news media calling to inquire about activities and announcements regarding law enforcement and legal affairs from the Justice Department, the Attorney General, and the President. Additionally, my day-to-day duties included monitoring news outlets and compiling press clips as well as editing and formatting news releases and internal organizational memos.

From daily briefing meetings to special events, the Office of Public Affairs staff treated me as a member of the team and constantly found new ways to make my internship a valuable learning experience.  These experiences, from accompanying the National Security Public Affairs Specialist, meeting with the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, to representing the Justice Department’s Office of Public Affairs at a Senate Committee Hearing, allowed me to gain a diverse and valuable perspective of the role of a government communications officer.  

Assisting press officers directly with press conferences and interviews with the Attorney General stands out as a highlight of my internship experience. By actively working with the Justice Department’s Press Secretary to arrange and carry out these events, I gained a true appreciation for the amount of planning and coordination that takes place behind the scenes and the important role of communications in spreading a federal executive department’s message. Spending the summer interning in the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice stands out as a truly spectacular experience that ultimately gave me a valuable perspective on the convergence of media and government, which will help shape the rest of my time at SMPA and in my future career goals.