How I Got the Job: Interning at Washington’s Hallowed Institutions

Rising senior Alanna Moskowitz spent last academic year interning at both the Department of Justice and White House.

July 8, 2024

GW rising senior Alanna Moskowitz shakes hands with Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Rahul Gupta during her spring internship with the White House. (Submitted photo)

GW rising senior Alanna Moskowitz shakes hands with Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy Rahul Gupta during her spring internship with the White House. (Submitted photo)

As a kid growing up in Cold Spring, N.Y., George Washington University rising senior Alanna Moskowitz would often walk away from the television, where the news was almost always on in her household, feeling frustrated and powerless.  

She would leave the room discouraged not only by the various misfortunes around the world but also at what she felt were a lack of resolutions offered to solve them.

Even though she didn’t quite know the path she’d take yet, Moskowitz vowed to be a solutions-based change agent who could help people better understand the inner workings of policy, law and peace building.  

“For me, micro change is more fulfilling than macro change,” said Moskowitz, a political science and peace studies major.

The best way to do that, she thought, would be from inside the institutions that have the most power to implement change. And the best place to gain access to that would be right in the middle of the action—at GW in the heart of Washington, D.C.

As Moskowitz’s mother told her, “You have to be where it happens; you don’t go to Florida for its maple syrup.”

Where it happens are the halls of the federal government. And as she enters her senior year at GW, where she has combined the university’s resources with her own ambitions, Moskowitz has completed internships at both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and White House in an only-at-GW college experience.

“GW felt like a place where everyone kind of was driven by public service in some capacity and driven to make a change,” Moskowitz said.

Interning for the Department of Justice was on Alanna Moskowitz's radar since she was a first-year student at GW. (submitted photo)
Interning for the Department of Justice was on Alanna Moskowitz's radar ever since she arrived at GW. (submitted photo)

Inspired by her peers, Moskowitz took advantage of opportunities on campus during her first two years, getting involved in organizations such as the Alexander Hamilton Society, No Lost Generation and Women’s Pre Law Student Association. She especially appreciated that GW felt more like a collaborative community instead of a competition, and she used this time to meet with alumni and older students to find out how she could best get her foot in the door of government, especially the DOJ.

The opportunity with the DOJ finally struck after she utilized GW Career Services to help with her resume and to teach her how to best utilize her networks. This process also taught her the value of persistence and to have confidence in her abilities and the skillsets she would bring to the team.

That all paid dividends, and she took that attitude with her to the DOJ last fall, where she gathered news clips, prepared attorneys for interviews and news conferences and collaborated with leadership to draft speeches and press releases covering the Office of Public Affairs’ law enforcement activities and legal affairs.

“I remember at the DOJ I would be so nervous to ask questions, but of course I am going to ask them, because I’m curious, right?” Moskowitz said. “And my questions were taken all the same. That was really validating to know that your voice matters and that everybody deserves a seat at the table.”

During the spring semester, she interned for the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, drafting press releases, social media posts and other media relations materials to advance policies aimed at reducing drug use and drug trafficking.

Last summer, she was a policy and communications intern with the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, as well as a legal intern and communications director for World Citizen Government.

This summer, Moskowitz is busy studying for the LSAT exam as she intends to pursue law school after she graduates this upcoming academic year. Classes, experiences and internships at GW gave her a better understanding of how difficult it can be to change policy. She believes pursuing law will better position her to help people on a more micro, individual level. Moskowitz sees great value in being a voice that people can relate to and trust within legal institutions.

“I can use the existing system to help individuals navigate the law,” Moskowitz said. “That fills my cup in a way that no advocacy really can or has.”

By leveraging her proximity to the national halls and institutions of government while attending GW, Moskowitz has found her passions and has burst the door open for herself to pursue them. She is the embodiment of what is possible in pursuing an education at GW and in the nation’s capital, and she advises other GW students to take advantage of the resources and all the opportunities that are within their grasp.

“So many students I've noticed are so independent, and they want to do it on their own, but there's no shame in learning what you don't know,” Moskowitz said. “And you have to start somewhere. Stepping stones pay off in the long run. The earlier you start the better off, the better.”