2018 PFIG Recipient Natalia Heguaburo

2018 PFIG Recipient Natalia Heguaburo

Journal Entry #1

These past two weeks interning at the United States Attorney's Office have been extremely thrilling yet challenging. As an intern, I have had the opportunity to visit a prison, watch hearings, and attend a federal trial. Not only am I given the opportunity to attend these interesting outings, but I am als tasked with helping attorneys work on cases as well as trial. Through the assignments I am given, I am able to make a genuine contribution to cases as well as alleviate a small part of the work of preparing for trial for federal prosecutors. I have been given the opportunity to sit in on meetings as well in order to observe how trial preperation and role allocation works within the office.  I have felt extremely welcomed and trusted as an intern, and have loved every second of my experience thus far. 

My first week at the office consisted of undergoing a detailed security briefing as well as being instructed on general duties and schedules for the upcoming 8 weeks at the office. Each week, interns are assigned work for a specific case or attorney, and we are required to complete our assignment within the alotted time given. At the end of each week, we meet with our mentors at the office - current AUSAs - to discuss our work and are given tips moving forward. I have been fortunate enough to be paired with a WAHOO alum who was a member of the Mock Trial team a few years before I joined. 

Perhaps the most impactful outing I have had as an undergraduate criminal division intern has been touring a prison in the area. Upon arrival we passed a security check and showed proper identification in order to enter through heavy doors surrounded by barbed-wire fences. Once inside, I immediately noticed the lack of windows and sunlight within the confined space. An inmate trudged by in handcuffs, and longingly stared at us as though we had given him a glimpe of a life outside of prison. We toured the prison and were permitted to ask questions including the diets of inmates, educational resources, and prison budgets. The living conditions within the prison deeply saddened me but also empowered me to continue educating myself about the criminal justice system. This view inside the prison reaffirmed my passion to ensure that those who deserve punishment serve their time in adequate and suitable conditions. 

I am looking forward to the future experiences and assignments that I will be tasked with as I develop my skills. Additionally, I hope this internship will continue to educate me on the federal legal system as well as instill in me the importance of discipline and a strong work ethic.  


Journal Entry #2

These past weeks interning at the US Attorney's Office - EDVA have been anything but predictable. I never expected to learn so extensively about the many different units within the office, and I definitely never thought I would have the ability to contribute to a case that will be going to trial. 

The assignments each intern is given varies drastically as no intern is assigned to a specific unit; however, becasue my mentor works in the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit, the majority of my assignments relate to financial crimes. Because of this, I expected to only gain a surface level understandung of the work in other units. I was deeply misguided. Twice a week, an AUSA from a different unit speaks to undergraduate and law student interns about their unit as well as notable cases that they have worked on during their time at the office. AUSA's have discussed their role in prosecuting individuals ranging from notorious murders to white collar criminals. Additionally, many AUSA's have shared their career paths, goals, and advice in order to help us succeed in our own lives. 

Additionally, I have been tasked with helping a group of AUSA's prepare for thier upcoming trial by compiling documents, pulling exhibits, and sitting in on witness prep. This work has given me further insight on the difficult but extremely rewarding work of federal prosecutors. Before this internship, I believed that most of the trial preperation work in any case was largely comprised of speaking with witnesses, drafting speeches, and creating direct and cross examinations. I now understand that Discovery and correspondence with defense counsel constitutes the bulk of the work that comes with preparing for trial. As the trial date nears, I have been given more responsibilities and independence as I continue to assist the AUSA's with whatever they need during the trial prep phase. 

Not only have interns been assigned to fascinating work in the office, but we have also been able to tour the Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol Building. We had the incredible opportunity to watch the Supreme Court Justices hand down two decisions just before the recess period, and we were able to tour the Senate chamber as well. The intern class most recently visited the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the nation's clearingouse and comprehensive reporting center for all issues related to the prevention of an recovery from child vicitimization. In the weeks to come, we will be visiting the FBI Academy in order to gain more insight on the training and programs that individuals undergo before officially working as agents. 

Journal Entry #3

My internship at the US Attorney's Office - EDVA has been nothing short of extraordinary. Each day involved a new speaker, trip, or experience that has allowed me to explore different careers and options for my own future. Additionally, this internship has opened my eyes to the variety of different roles within a unit that are invaluable to attorneys and necessary in order to present a strong case at trial. 

Throughout this internship, intern coordinators made it their priority to ensure that all interns were able to explore their own interests whether it be through trips or speakers. Most recently, all interns were able to travel to Quantico, Virginia to tour the FBI Academy and learn about the process of becoming an agent for the FBI. This tour provided me with a deeper understanding of the difficult but crucial work that these agents perform. Perhaps the most impactful trip for me was our visit to the Alexandria Detention Center, which I mentioned in an earlier blog post. Before this internship, I had never visited a detention center, and I only had a surface level understanding of the conditions of facilities and resources available to inmates. This trip reinforced for me the importance of allocating adequate resources to inmates in order to decrease the rate of recitivism and ensure that these inmates are able to become productive citizens in their communities. I am extremely grateful for all the time spent by coordinators planning these trips and the invaluable knowledge I gained during each of these outings. 

Additionally, as an intern that mostly assisted attorneys in tax fraud cases, I quickly realized the importance of each job within the unit that allow attorneys to present the best and most persuasive case during their trials. Paralegals, legal aids, agents, and attorney's came together to ensure that all exhibits were pulled, marked, and ready for trial as quickly as possible. As I mentioned, my roles varied, but I mainly assisted in discovery production, which is only a small part of the enormous amount of time and work that is put in behind the scenes by all employees. I enjoyed assisting the attorneys with these tasks, but I am also extremely grateful to have been able to sit in on witness preparation where exhibit orders and examinations are tweaked and perfected. 

No words will truly express how invaluable and thrilling my summer has been thanks to my internship at the US Attorney's Office - EDVA and the Parents Fund Internship Grant. I will take the knowledge, experience, and connections that I have gained through this internship with me and apply them in any future role that I may hold.