“You are the ambassadors for the EEOC.” This was one of the first things I was told during my time with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. I assumed it essentially meant to be respectful and know that you are representing the entire agency. Little did I know that I would be the first person many people will meet and talk to with hopes of justice for their discrimination. I would be put into situations with people who have experienced difficulties and have no idea what to do. I would have to bring comfort to people who have been fired, harassed, or not received promotions. Emotions would be running high for them, and I would be expected to talk them through what is happening and what I believe is the best bet for their case.
Interning for the EEOC has truly been an experience that I would not give up for the world. While there are plenty of other internships out there especially in a city like Washington DC, but the EEOC is different and much more hands on. Other internships will have you answering phones, filing papers, and other office tasks, but not the EEOC. Within a few weeks of working here, I have interviewed witnesses, conducted intake interviews, drafted memoranda and contact respondents when the charging party files a charge. How many internships give college students the opportunity to do tasks such as talking with employees to get an understanding of or information into an alleged bad actor?
The meat of the internship comes with the intake process. Every day, the EEOC receives dozens of mail in intakes and a few “walk ins.” Mail ins are when the Charging Party submits their information through the mail and usually their interview is conducted over the phone. Walk ins on the other hand is when the Charging Party is physically in the office and the interview takes place in person. During this time, our goal is gather as much information as possible from them and determine whether or not the EEOC will further investigate their case. If we determine there is not enough evidence or that their charge is not within our jurisdiction, we let them know and remind them they can still file a charge with the EEOC though it is unlikely that we will investigate further. If it appears there is enough evidence to warrant further investigation, then they file a charge and we inform them of our process.
Talking with people and gathering information has been my favorite part of this whole internship. I have known for awhile that I want to go to law school, but I have always been hesitant as to what type of law I wanted to go into. I never realized how interesting labor law is; every case that I have worked on has kept me interested. I strongly feel that I have a better idea of what I want to see myself doing as a career. Without this internship, I would go into law school without any general idea of what type of law I want to practice.