Name: Lauren Brown
Class Year: 2007
Title: Assistant Attorney General
Organization Name: Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia
1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I work in the Government Contracts Section of the Commercial Division at the Office of the Attorney General, where I represent the District in bid protest litigation and review and negotiate contracts for various agency purchases that include items, such as new fire trucks for the District to working on the contract for a new bridge worth more than $440 million.
2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?
After I graduated Holy Cross, I went straight to law school, so I didn’t start my job search until I was in law school. I knew I wanted to work for the government in some capacity, so I started applying to positions, but at the time, the legal market didn’t have very many open, entry-level positions. Moreover, I was fresh out of school with no actual job experience (beyond internships). Thus, my first few positions after law school were temporary positions, which provided me with an opportunity to gain work experience and additional skills while I continued my job search for a permanent position.
One of the key themes in terms of events that connected me to my employers has been networking. Even if a connection may not have a job opening right now, it is important to maintain that relationship because you never know when that individual will have an opening in the future or they will hear about an opportunity that they can share with you. I learned about my current position from one of my former supervisors at the Connecticut General Assembly, Office of Legislative Management. My former supervisor was attending a procurement conference in Washington, DC and heard that the Office of the Attorney General was going to be hiring procurement attorneys and she passed the information along to me. I then applied for that position, which is how I learned about my current job. Therefore, it is important to grow and maintain your network and to let your network know that you are searching for a job.
Working in some positions that weren’t necessarily the best fit has helped me realize what is most important to me when I was searching for my current position. What I like most about my current position is working closely with our agency clients to accomplish their goals to improve life for District residents. I also like that my position provides me with a mixture of independent assignments, as well as an opportunity to work on other projects as a team with my colleagues.
3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?
I tutored at the Nativity School of Worcester through SPUD, served as Vice President of the Holy Cross Chapter of Model United Nations, worked as an Article Editor for the Holy Cross Journal of Law and Public Policy, and was a member of the Political Science Student Advisory Council, the Holy Cross College Republicans, and the Investment Club.
4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
I majored in Political Science and minored in Economics at Holy Cross. I loved majoring in Political Science and took so many great courses at Holy Cross that I knew I wanted to continue my pursuit toward working in the government. I considered getting a master’s degree in public policy, but at the time, I wasn’t sure that was ultimately the area that I wanted to spend my entire career in. After learning about the broad range of careers that people with law degrees have, from practicing law in the traditional sense to being CEOs of companies and everything in between, I decided that going to law school would provide me with more flexibility over the course of my career. Ultimately, the law school I selected to attend also offered a Law and Public Policy Certificate program, so I could still pursue that aspect of my education.
5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?
Some of the most important skills I developed at Holy Cross that I use in my work are the ability to clearly write and communicate, as well as to analyze complex issues and succinctly explain them to others. Also, time management is crucial because on a daily basis I have numerous competing demands that I need to balance in order to meet various, oftentimes short, deadlines.
6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?
I recommend reaching out to Holy Cross alumni to ask if they would be willing to do an informational interview with you. It is a good way to learn more about what their current position entails and the steps they took to get to that point in their career. I’ve met with numerous alumni who have all been very generous with their time and it is a beneficial way to informally learn more about various positions and career paths. The strength of the Holy Cross Alumni Network is very true.
Doing internships or volunteer work in an area in which you are interested in gaining additional experience is beneficial. Internships and volunteering also provide you with an opportunity to see whether that type of work is something that you truly enjoy doing and want to pursue as a career. Programs such as Holy Cross’ Washington Semester Program are invaluable in terms of providing you with a high-quality internship and work experience.
Another suggestion is to join professional organizations, even while you are still a student. Many organizations offer free or reduced membership rates to students, offer valuable mentoring programs, and provide leadership opportunities. I am on the Board of Directors of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia and we always encourage students to attend our events and to get more involved, which provides students with an opportunity to learn about various areas of the law in which they may want to pursue a career.