SPAA Internship Spotlight: Valerie Valle – Horizon Blue Cross, Blue Shield of NJ
Name: Valerie Valle
SPAA Degree Program: BA in Public and Nonprofit Administration
Anticipated Graduation Date: May 2024
Name of Organization: Horizon Blue Cross, Blue Shield of NJ
Location: Newark, NJ
Title: Legal Intern
Date of Internship: Fall 2022
Summary of Responsibilities:
My responsibilities included tasks supporting the Litigation, Labor, and Employment Office along with the Information Cyber Security Office (ICSO) on various projects, presentations, and research. Many of these assignments required that I work with different paralegals and the eDiscovery team to assist with issues related to records management and data retention. Additionally, throughout this internship, I assisted with upcoming projects related to data retention and digital investigations for litigation matters as well as overall information governance, meetings with attorneys and members of ICSO, and several other events such as Town Halls and Workday Trainings.
Favorite Part(s) of the Internship:
Throughout this experience, my favorite part of the internship was the exposure to new information across different projects. From navigating email communications on important legal project matters to researching relevant topics, I learned something new daily! I also had the opportunity to attend several legal events that built my understanding of law by introducing me to new terminology, topics, and skills. Some examples included attending a Legal Town Hall, virtual CLE events, and project meetings and calls. Before the start of my internship, I had no experience in the legal industry despite my desire to attend law school. I can confidently say I have begun to build critical skills, including time management, problem-solving, written communication, and interpersonal skills.
Additionally, focusing on my work with the Cyber Security Department, I became familiar with concepts that were once foreign such as SOC 2 reports, analyzing policies, and working in a technological lab. From my work with E-Discovery tasks, I learned and engaged in technical forensics from multiple standpoints. Additionally, I enjoyed several social opportunities within Horizon BCBSNJ that allowed me to strengthen my professional network and work with one-of-a-kind, amazing people!
How did the Service-learning Internship course help you navigate your internship responsibilities?
The service-learning Internship course helped me navigate my internship responsibilities because, throughout the different discussion boards, I learned new skills and tools to help maximize my internship experience. For example, in the week three discussion board topic, I created 2-3 intern stretch assignments I desired to complete before the end of the course. I am happy to share that after talking with my supervisor, I could work on one of these assignments, such as a legal memorandum on an immigration matter! Additionally, from other discussion boards, I learned more in-depth information about my future career as a lawyer and have been tracking all my responsibilities and accomplishments off a list that pushes me further toward that goal.
What kind of skills did you learn during this internship?
During my internship, I developed a wide variety of new experiences and skills. For example, my work with the Legal Department taught me the importance and successful practice of oral/written communication and data management. As a result, I’ve learned how to write emails, track data across different communication platforms (emails, Zoom, etc.), compile information analytics, and cross-reference data with software. I’ve also learned how to use Microsoft Office 360, especially Excel. I created multiple spreadsheets, workbooks, and composition logs, compiling old and new data related to project management using software such as Confluence and Exterro. In turn, my work with the Cyber Security department taught me how to image mobile devices within the forensics lab using software such as Axiom for evidence examination. I also have edited important company emails and organized cybersecurity campaigns like a phishing derby! Last but certainly not least, I learned how to multitask/prioritize as I juggled multiple assignments between different departments.
Has your mentoring part of the internship helped you navigate your career goals?
The mentoring part of my internship helped me navigate my career goals because I had a group of professionals constantly providing support and advice as I needed it. In fact, despite the generational gap I may have had with my co-workers, I became very close with several people who had gone above and beyond, and I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to meet and work with them! By having a mentoring part of the internship, I had people to go to whenever any questions or doubts arose, and I didn't feel alone or overwhelmed throughout the process.
I am working to become an immigration lawyer one day. I specifically choose immigration law because of my connections with friends and family, the recounting of their experiences and struggles, and my desire to help those in my community. However, before I enter law school, I would like to earn my master's degree in public administration. Following the Rutgers SPAA classes I have taken this far and my concentration in social justice from the Honors Living Learning Community, I have developed a passion for nonprofit and community organizing. As a result, after this semester, I hope to enroll in the Accelerated MPA program!