Adventures of an EPICS Intern: Communication Studies Major to Special Agent!

Mercy Yang OLRFI signGreetings from Washington, D.C.! Today wraps up my summer internship with the U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations (OLRFI). Ignore the long name – we are essentially the criminal investigations and law enforcement arm of the Labor department. See our website.

I picked this “white-collar” criminal investigations internship after working as an intern investigator at another federal law enforcement agency. While my communication studies major didn’t relate to the job directly, my curious and inquisitive personality, passion for justice, and fascination about crime inspired me to learn more about criminal justice. As an intern, I work with the special agents and analysts on open cases or potential leads by collecting, analyzing, and disseminating intelligence information. This includes reviewing and evaluating surveillance footage, writing intel memos to present to special agents, or preparing comprehensive reports on subjects. This information is critical to special agents who use my findings to execute search warrants, interview subjects, make arrests, collaborate with U.S. Attorneys to prosecute criminals, and testify in court.

Special Agent vest croppedAfter years of obsessing over TV shows and movies featuring cool and suave federal special agents, I’ve finally seen what it’s really all about in real life. Federal special agents have challenging but important jobs because of their willingness to serve the public and devote the majority of their waking hours to their work. No movie or show will parallel the first-hand experience and relationships I gained this summer.

My greatest takeaway from working in Washington, D.C. is the value of my communication studies major, a very vague and broad field of study. Being a comm studies major has forced me to demonstrate and play up my interests rather than stick to industries traditionally relevant to the major. I have leveraged my broad background to step foot in the fields that I’ve never formally studied but have always been interested in: criminal justice, marketing and sales, social justice, education, journalism and even foreign affairs.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that a liberal arts degree – or a communication studies major – is useless. For all we know, you or I could be the next big federal special agent catching criminals.

Mercy Yang is a rising senior studying Communication Studies who interned with U.S. Department of Labor-Office of Inspector General, Office of Labor Racketeering and Fraud Investigations (OLRFI) over the summer.