Before this summer, Daniel Kees (L’20) had no idea that the Educational Opportunities Section of the Department of Justice existed. “It’s really interesting!” he tells us. “A lot of our work is with schools under what they call the ‘deseg’ orders of the late 1960s and 70s, making sure they are remaining in compliance—that the schools are integrating and not re-segregating.” His second summer in DC, Daniel found that things aren’t as different as he might have initially thought, and is continuously in awe of his fellow public servants and the hard work they put in.
What areas of public policy interest you?
Education policy is what I was most passionate about during my undergraduate years. I think education policy is different than other policy areas because there isn’t as much of it at the federal level, so you have to think very critically about what your goals are and how you’re going to set out accomplishing them in a given space. I’m also very interested in fiscal policy. I’ve always found it fascinating (and tricky) the ways that the government and the Fed work independently of each other to guide our economy, to steer the ship.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
My typical day is getting up, taking the Metro from Arlington to DC, and arriving to work around 8:30-9am. I have a cup of coffee, check my emails, and begin to form a plan for the day. I usually get into whatever has the most pressing deadline and work on that until lunch. After lunch, we usually have a check-in with one or two attorneys to go over where we are in a case or to go over some preliminary matters. If we’re in litigation, which we have had a lot this summer, things will pop up that need to be taken care of right away, like getting a filing in or something of that nature. That usually takes up most of the afternoon. After work, often times my fellow interns and I go out; we’ll go to happy hour or to trivia night. From there, I go home, cook some dinner, go to sleep and get prepared for the next day.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
I was surprised at how little has changed in government work from different presidential administrations. I worked on the Hill two years ago at the end of the Obama administration, and I’ve been surprised to find out that so much of DC operates independently of who’s in office.
Name one object that you brought with you to DC that reflects your personality.
I brought my bluebook from law school. A bluebook is a book of legal citations, so as a rising second year student, I’ve obviously done a lot of writing and legal research. I worked at a law firm the first half of the summer, where I used my bluebook, and my transition from private to public sector work at EOS, funny enough, still has me using my bluebook quite a bit. So, for better or worse, as a law student, my bluebook may be my most defining personal item at the moment.
In 30 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
I’ll remember the dedication of public servants. It’s very easy, especially as a young person, to be jaded in this political moment, but I’ve worked every day this summer with people who have devoted their lives to fighting for justice, equality, and equity, and who go to work every day knowing that they’re going to give their all in pursuit of those ideals. I’ve been very encouraged to see just how committed people are to this work, and in the future, I’ll be proud to say I know this person or that person, and I’ll be able to say that they have truly been about the work.