Michelle Goldberg, Boston City Council, Director of Legislative Budget Analysis
We first met Michelle when she was a junior in high school and had enjoyed a school trip to Washington, D.C. Because she expressed a desire to learn more about the American political system, we established an internship for her in a Senator’s office at the MA State House. Michelle wrote, “Working for the Senator is fascinating. I’m attending hearings and seminars as well as researching issues and legislation. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity.”
Michelle, it’s been wonderful to keep in touch with you and see that you are the Director of Legislative Budget Analysis at the Boston City Council. Tell us about your position and what you find most enjoyable.
As Director of Legislative Budget Analysis, I manage the City Council’s legislative budget review process. Review and approval of the City budget is a power directly granted to the City Council by the Boston City Charter, and I support the Chair of the Council’s Committee on Ways and Means to coordinate the hearings, analysis, and materials to help the City Councilors review the available information in preparation for their votes.
Outside of Budget Season, I support the 13 councilors in their legislative work, including legal and policy research and the drafting and review of legislation.
I am also a team lead for the Council’s Central Staff Legislative Team, for the Council’s Committees on Environment, Resiliency & Parks; Pilot Reform; Post Audit; Public Health; Public Safety & Criminal Justice; Small Business & Workforce Development; and Strong Women, Families & Communities.
The most enjoyable part of this job is getting to do significant work with so many different people. The issues at hand are different every day, and the context for this work is constantly shifting.
What was your college major? How did you decide to go to law school and then switch to government?
I majored in Psychology at Lehigh University. After graduating I worked at a restaurant while interviewing for jobs in various industries, but never felt that I was finding anything compatible with my skills and interests. After spending time with some of the restaurant’s regulars who worked as attorneys, I realized law school felt like that perfect fit I’d been looking for. I ended up at Boston University School of Law. While there I served as an editor on the Review of Banking and Financial Law, and interned with the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Financial Services through the law school’s Legislative Clinic. While at school and directly after I explored various avenues, with my summer jobs including working for a county probate court, in-house law clerk for a technology firm, research assistant, and summer associate for a law firm. Following graduation, I spent time working for a local consulting firm focused on corporate legal departments, before ending up with the City Council.
I think an underlying theme through much of my educational and career development has been an interest in exploring as many possibilities as I could, but for some reason, legislative work kept calling me back. It capitalizes on my skills and interests, and I love that legislation is like a puzzle, requiring a fit between the nuances of government rules and lived reality.
Tell us about a Career High Point.
I have been very fortunate over the past few years to be able to work with smart and innovative politicians from different walks of life, especially women. Some career high points have been opportunities to work on local legislation with former Councilor now Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, and with two historic mayoral candidates, Councilors Michelle Wu and Andrea Campbell.
Did you have additional internships after high school?
I did. I did a marketing internship for the New England Revolution, a market research internship with Intermon Oxfam in Barcelona, a psychiatric research internship at the MGH Center for Addiction Medicine, and a legal research internship with the Future of Music Coalition.
Thinking back, have you had anyone who stands out as a professional mentor and role model?
The managing partner of the consulting firm I worked for after law school was an enormous influence on me. He taught me to question and prove myself, and I am a better worker all around due to his mentorship. I think it is important to find mentors you look up to, can invest in your development in real time, and can challenge you to continue to grow.
A recent article in Edtech Review describes why internships are essential for professional development. Do you agree?
I think that the benefits of experience cannot be overstated. My internships helped me learn things like the importance of getting to a job on time and dressing professionally, as well as how to answer a phone in a workplace and make myself useful. They also allowed me to explore my interests and round out my education with practical, real world experience that I could reference back to when applying for jobs down the line, at a time when I wouldn’t have been otherwise able to obtain the same kind of employment.
Finally, now that you’ve had a great deal of career experience, what would you tell your 16-year-old self?
I would say that it’s okay to not know exactly what you want to do – at any age. The important thing is to just do something. I think that again speaks to the importance of internships in terms of continuing to move yourself forward, even when you’re not totally sure where you’re going to end up……. I’d also tell her to give up the images of running around in high-heeled shoes all day. We’re wearing flats.