Marco DiLeonardo (C’18) is one to plan ahead. “While studying abroad in Italy last semester, I knew I wanted to do an internship in DC before graduation. I spent a lot of time there looking for the right internship.” A prospective law student, Marco landed at the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch, where he’s been provided an in-depth look at life as a government attorney. As he progresses through his internship, gaining invaluable experience for his future in law, Marco is sure of one thing: whatever happens here will lead him to plan for what’s next.
What areas of public policy interest you?
I’m definitely interested in the Department of Justice, especially how federal litigation actually applies to the normal, everyday person. In my opinion, many people understand the DOJ and the Supreme Court to be governmental bodies that manage law and corporations, but many don’t understand the day to day consequences of litigation. That is especially what the Consumer Protection branch focuses on: protecting the American consumer.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office every morning?
I usually get a cup of coffee. There’s a Starbucks on the way from the Metro to the office, so I’ll pop in there and get an iced coffee while heading in. Once at the office, I’ll check my email. Usually there’s a message about a new project; the other interns and I will discuss who wants to take it on.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
I get up around 7 o’clock, eat breakfast, and take the Metro to work. This summer, I’m living in Foggy Bottom in one of the George Washington University dorms, with several other Penn students. Once I arrive at work, the intern coordinator sends me any open projects or cases needing assistance from the attorneys. If there’s a new project, I’ll meet with that attorney and their paralegal, and they will provide me with background information about the case and specifically my task. I’ll work on various projects and try to finish my work by 5:30, which is when our day formally ends. After work, I study for the LSAT. I’m applying to law school this upcoming cycle, depending on my score, so I spend a lot of time studying after work. On Mondays, I have a three hour LSAT prep course and usually do two to three hours of studying the other days. From there, I’ll cook myself dinner. I just got back from studying abroad in Bologna for six months and learned to cook from my Italian roommates, which was amazing. Then I go to the gym, come home, shower, sleep, and repeat.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
I’ve interned in Philly and New York before and I often describe DC as a mixture of the two cities. While it doesn’t have the chaos of New York, it retains that busyness. How it’s different from both, though, is DC’s focus on governance. I’ve never seen or interacted with so many people that are interested in public policy and government. From my bosses, my fellow interns, to even people on the street, DC is buzzing with current events and politics.
Name one object that you brought with you to DC that reflects your personality.
It’s pretty mundane, but my LSAT books. Ever since I returned from Italy, I knew it was crunch time to study for the test. I’m always in the mindset of looking ahead. Whether it be to this year, three years from now when I graduate from law school, or even further, I always look towards the next step.
In 30 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
My main motivation for this internship is to decide whether a career in law is the right career path for me. While I was fairly knowledgeable of how private firms function, I didn’t have a solid understanding of how an attorney works in government. As I’ve learned, the work of public and private attorneys are completely different in terms of hours, workload, etc. One of the key elements of my program are what my office calls “brown bag lunches,” where an attorney in the branch meets with the interns and talks about their specific experiences or a case that they’ve worked on. I feel that whatever I’m doing in twenty or thirty years, I’ll look at this internship as an important impetus in directing me in a certain way. I haven’t yet decided whether that means public or private law, but with advice from these attorneys, I have acquired a better understanding of my career trajectory.