The University of St. Thomas

Unexpected landings, by Carrie Anderson ’06

Published on: Monday, March 31st, 2014

I never saw myself working for the federal government, particularly in the field of immigration. I started my career as an immigration lawyer, zealously advocating for the downtrodden and weary, while representing a few businesses to pay the bills. I was an idealist and I loved my job. I could see on a daily basis how I promoted social justice and helped my neighbor. I also loved my area of practice. Immigration law was complicated, intricate and at times, entertaining. I enjoyed dissecting the facts and finding solutions that helped my client’s case. My work supported my faith in a very tangible way, but after three years I wanted to experience the law from another perspective and started working for the government.

Carrie Anderson '06 tests an innovative glove designed by the public for NASA space explorations.

Carrie Anderson ’06 tests an innovative glove designed by the public for NASA space explorations.

In 2009, I moved to Washington, D.C., to begin a career working in immigration law with the federal government. Since that move, I have been fortunate to hold jobs in multiple agencies. I have felt the frustration of bureaucracy and the thrill of making a difference in someone’s life by improving a government program.

At my current job, I help individuals and employers seeking immigration benefits who are experiencing problems using the government system. My casework still allows me the opportunity to dissect the facts and find solutions just like I did in private practice. The difference now is I am inside the system and, for better or worse, an active part of it. There are days when I feel like I make a positive difference in my work, and there are days when I feel like my hands are tied. There are days when I receive glowing letters of appreciation for the work I do and days when the phone will not stop ringing with irate individuals. At all times, I try and remember to recognize each person’s humanity. I try and remember that I am in a unique position to help people and help improve the system. I listen. I wait. I continue to help.

I did not expect to have a career in the government. I still look back at my days in private practice with fondness. I appreciate the lessons of compassion and wisdom my clients taught me. I value the work ethic I developed in my first years as a lawyer. And one day, I might return to that work again.  Until that happens, I try and see the intention of where I have landed in my career and strive to bring goodness to my work.

Carrie Anderson ’06 is a policy analyst with the Federal Government in Washington, D.C.

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