Sophia Osterberg is a senior studying Environmental Management with minors in Law and Public Policy and Spanish. Sophia spent the previous summer in Washington D.C. interning on Capitol Hill following her spring semester interning at the U.S. Department of State with the Washington Leadership Program. She served at the State Department as the Policy and Public Outreach Intern with the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental Affairs. In this role, Sophia prepared U.S. Envoys for international conferences by developing talking points, writing memoranda for embassies, and creating briefing materials to advance U.S. interests in protecting the environment. Recently, Sophia accepted a position at Guidehouse to be a Government Consultant within their Energy and Environment team.

1. Why were you interested in interning in the federal government, specifically with the Department of State and Congress?

The core of both my personal and professional goals has always been to positively affect change, particularly related to environmental and international justice issues. While looking for internships in Washington, D.C., I was determined to find a position that allowed me to have a role in changing the trajectory of the climate crisis and its effects on communities across the globe. I believed that working within the executive and legislative branches would provide me with first-hand experiences in the policy-creation process and the opportunity to work for the best interest of our nation’s citizens.

2. Can you talk about your interest in policymaking at the federal level?

As O’Neill students, I think many of us have the drive to “lead for the greater good.” In my perspective, that means creating a positive impact through policymaking and public service that improves the quality of life for all citizens. I am interested in policymaking because not only is it a fascinating process, but it also has tangible results in all industries: environmental, health, transportation, and many more. Interning as a civil servant in the federal government is a very unique opportunity to create a visible change and learn from our nation’s leaders.

How did you go about finding and applying for the internship?

During my internship search, I created personalized notifications on USAJobs for opportunities at federal agencies that were consistent with my interests. I also reviewed the jobs and internships page of the O’Neill Career Hub website and stayed up-to-date on each email from the Hub. Once I was navigating the application process, I worked with the Career Hub to develop responses to offer letters, and the Assistant Directors helped answer all of my questions! It was a demanding process, but it was absolutely worth it.

4. How did your internship prepare you for future career plans, specifically your upcoming role at Guidehouse?

Ultimately, my internships at the U.S. Department of State and the Senate allowed me to gain insight into careers in the civil service. I was exposed to the intricacies of the federal government and learned how policy is created and implemented. Now, I am eager to continue working alongside federal government agencies as a Government Consultant! I believe that all levels of the government benefit from perspectives and opinions both inside and outside of the public sector. Therefore, I am eager to use my previous experiences to provide that outside perspective and assist public administrators to create more sustainable, resilient communities.