InternGram: Brianna Wells BA ‘20

September 16, 2019

This summer students were scattered around the country and across the globe getting first-hand professional experience during their summer internships. Students are sharing their experiences through InternGrams, a recap of the what, where, and wow of their experiences.

Name: Brianna Wells BA ‘20
Organization: American Civil Liberties Union- Michigan
Location: Detroit, MI
Career aspiration: Legal Scholar and Practitioner

This summer, I completed an amazing internship at the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan! I had the opportunity to participate in the various areas of advocacy that the ACLU engages in, such as immigrant rights, racial justice, voting rights, and reproductive rights. I got to work closely with the lawyers, political strategists, organizers, and communications team that all make the important work that the ACLU does possible.

Not only was the organization’s work inspiring, I was also lucky enough to be interning in a collaborative and encouraging work environment. My favorite part of the internship was watching truly integrated advocacy at work— everyone’s voice was given an opportunity to be heard.

Much of my work included research, data entry, and I even got to put my Ford School memo writing skills to use! I also read and logged many of the letters sent to the ACLU by individuals asking for help, most of which came from prisoners or other people affected by the criminal legal system. Beyond the various assignments I completed over the summer, there was structured programming for the interns, as well.

Twice a week, the ACLU brought in speakers that work in several areas of social justice, both within and outside of the ACLU. These talks gave us the opportunity to learn about social justice career paths from a very personal viewpoint, and I now feel more equipped to think about how I may be of use in my future career advocating for civil rights in law and policy.

Another valuable aspect of my internship was getting to learn about the unique community in Detroit. An advantage of working for a state affiliate of the national ACLU was getting to witness how closely the Michigan ACLU works with the Detroit community. I learned about the nuanced issues facing the people of Detroit, and saw how strategic litigation and policy advocacy meant to bring systemic reform deeply affects individuals’ personal lives.

Overall, my experience at the ACLU confirmed my aspiration to work in similar advocacy fields in the future, and left me feeling decidedly fulfilled with how I spent my time this summer.