Justice served: A summer at the Department of Justice

Senior political science major Jordan Andrews is a summer intern at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Student standing in front of plaque that says U.S. Department of Justice Washington, and flanked by two flags.
Penn senior Jordan Andrews is a summer intern at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

While details of her work are confidential, Penn senior Jordan Andrews can say that she has learned a lot about the law during her summer internship at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C.

A political science major from Detroit, Andrews says the experience also supported her intent to go to law school to become a public interest attorney. 

“I don’t feel like a cog in a big wheel. I feel instrumental, and that’s been really rewarding,  especially interning in D.C. I feel like my work is substantive and important,” she says. “We do things that are valuable to the attorneys and paralegals, but at the same time are well within what we are able to do as undergrads.” 

DOJ Intern Coordinator Lisa Mitzelfeld says the student interns are integral to the department, “making real contributions helping to advance our cases,” working in both civil and criminal litigation for several attorneys and paralegals. 

“Jordan has been instrumental in many of these cases,” Mitzelfeld says. “She had to be able to review and synthesize and evaluate complex material. She worked really hard while she was here, and she did a tremendous job.” 

Andrews was one of only five students chosen in the nationwide search for the highly competitive summer positions. “She is without a doubt one of the best interns we have ever had,” says Mitzelfeld.

Mitzelfeld was able to explain the confidential cases Andrews worked on in broad terms. 

“Jordan worked on mail fraud, tech fraud, and medical device fraud cases,” as well as cases involving lottery and telemarketing scams, odometer fraud, and opioid abuse, even a major military case of identity theft, Mitzelfeld says. Several of the projects involved senior citizens, military veterans, and other “vulnerable victims.” 

“Jordan is a shining star representative of University of Pennsylvania, a joy to be around,” Mitzelfeld says. “I truly mean it when I say that we have been very fortunate to have her on our team this summer.” 

Andrews says the internship experience also has allowed her to explore other government agencies in the nation’s capital. She attended the Supreme Court in session and spoke with the law clerks there, toured the Library of Congress, and visited the Office of the Inspector General, the State Department, the Office of the Special Counsel, and the Department of Education. 

“I have learned a lot about career paths for law in the government,” Andrews says, adding that she also attended several panel discussions. 

Andrews, who is also pursuing minors in French, American public policy, and Africana studies, found the internship opportunity on a Wharton School job listserv. Although the position is unpaid, she received funding from Penn’s Civic House to cover her housing and other summer expenses because she is a Civic Scholar

“I wanted to frame my education around service learning, and Civic Scholars has been a home base for me to learn about opportunities and understand Penn’s relationships with community partners,” she says. 

A public service internship is a requirement for Civic Scholars, and Andrews was one of several to receive funding this summer, says David Grossman, Civic House director.

“Since her first year at Penn, and even before, Jordan has demonstrated a commitment to positive social change; her work at the Department of Justice this summer was a natural expression of that,” Grossman says. “This internship and her involvements at Penn are reflective of the work that we seek to promote and support at Penn Civic House and the Civic Scholars program.” 

Through Civic House, Andrews has volunteered for its West Philadelphia Tutoring Project, as a homework aid with the Mighty Writers nonprofit, and a classroom assistant and service site coordinator at a Philadelphia public school.

She has also completed three academically based community service courses at Penn. She is preparing to write her Civic Scholar senior thesis on trauma-informed learning. 

Andrews has been a leader on the wider campus as well, serving as the vice president of the Undergraduate Student Assembly as a junior. And she is the vice president of a student group that focuses on criminal justice reform, Beyond Arrests: Re-thinking Systematic Oppression (BARS). She’s also active in UMOJA, a collaboration meant to unite students and student groups of the African Diaspora at Penn.

“I chose to be a political science major because I wanted to study a subject that would allow me to engage with both historical and present-day issues,” she says. “I’m passionate about justice and ensuring equity in K-12 education and courtrooms to eradicate school-to-prison pipelines.”

Last summer she was a policy intern at a nonprofit lobbying firm, Only Through Us, in San Francisco, researching antiterrorism legislation.

After the experience this summer in D.C., she says she plans to dive into new opportunities her senior year. “I want to take more advantage of speaker events and panels and visitors who come to Penn,” she says. “I’m going to make time for that going forward.”

After graduation she plans to look for a job in her field, while also studying for the law school entrance exam.  “I’ve heard from the lawyers here it is good to take time off between undergraduate and law school to work in an area that can inform my legal education so I can go into law school with work experience,” she says. 

She will be looking for a friendly, supportive atmosphere like she encountered this summer. “Something I’ve come to appreciate is the importance of the work environment,” she says, “one that will allow you to grow and learn, with people who have a passion for what they do.”