This article contains PDO’s feature of Melinda Moffitt, who got a job her first summer with the BLM. Melinda first made contact with the BLM at PDO Career Fair’s last January. It can make a big difference in job seeking if the employer already has a good impression of you when you apply for a job! Plan now to attend this year’s Career Fair, January 12!
Why did you come to law school?
I knew starting law school that I wanted to practice environmental/natural resources law. My undergrad degree is in environmental studies, and part of my decision for coming to law school was that the skills I would learn in law school would allow me to make a greater impact in the natural resources field.
What did you do last summer?
I worked for the State Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the State of Utah.
Why did you decide to do that?
Working for the BLM appealed to me because before I even came to law school, I thought that I wanted to work for a state or federal agency. I knew that working for the BLM would help me decide if this is really the career path that I want to pursue – as opposed to working for industry or at a traditional law firm.
How did you learn of the opportunity and what was the application and interview process like?
I learned about this job opportunity first at PDO’s Career Fair in January last year, where different law firms and other interested entities came to the law school. It was very informal. Later, the BLM came to the law school again and had an information session to tell us, students, more about what the summer internship would entail. We were provided with all of the information about applying at that time. The application process was pretty simple and straightforward. I just had to email the required documents to their HR person. But it took them quite awhile to process the applications and even let me know that I had been selected for an interview. The hiring process is very slow with the federal government. The interview was a very typical interview, pretty much like most other job interviews I’ve ever had. Once again, it took them quite awhile to let me know that I had been selected.
What did you do on a day to day basis?
Because I worked for the State Director, each day brought something new. Myself, and the other intern, would attend almost of all the State Director’s meeting with him. This allowed me to see how things worked internally in the BLM and helped me to better understand the different issues that we were trying to resolve. We were also able to meet with different parties outside of the BLM and hear and begin to understand their concerns with different actions that the BLM was taking. This allowed me the opportunity to travel throughout the state of Utah to see different BLM lands and to meet with concerned parties. I would then receive assignments from the director to follow up on certain issues and research how we would be able to solve these ongoing issues. This involved both legal and non-legal analysis.
What was the best part about what you did over the summer? What did you learn?
The best part of my job was being able to travel and see parts of Utah that I had never seen before, even though I grew up in Utah. There is a lot of amazing BLM land throughout this state. I also enjoyed the opportunity to begin to see issues and concerns through other people’s/group’s perspectives. It forced me to evaluate problems not just through my own pre-determined values but according to what is important to all members of the public.
What advice do you have for the 1L’s who are thinking about what to do this summer?
If there is a career path that you would like to pursue, then be persistent in trying to find an internship in that area. I applied to many different government internships. I am very pleased that things worked out with the BLM, because it is precisely the type of agency that I wanted to work for. But you should be open to any opportunity that will put you in the direction you are looking to take. A foot in the door really is worth as much as they say. I had the opportunity of meeting so many people this summer that could be connections to similar types of work in the future. Take advantage of talking to 2Ls and 3Ls that work somewhere that you think you would be interested in. They may be able to help you get a summer job, or they may know who you need to talk to, or they may be able to help you determine if it is even somewhere that you would want to work.