Intern Profile: Megan Rutkowski
Megan completed three internships during her senior year. During the fall semester, she worked as a tutor in Marist’s Writing Center, and during the spring semester, she worked as an intern in the Office of Public Affairs for the New York State Unified Court System while also leading the Disaster Preparedness Team for the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross. Her work earned her the School of Liberal Arts Intern of Year Award for 2013. She describes her spring internships below:
Q. Where did you intern during the spring semester?
A. My first internship is at the Office of Public Affairs for the NYS Unified Court System. I’ve been at this position since January, and I will continue to work with them until May. My daily responsibilities range from researching long and short term projects, observing courtrooms across New York and Kings Counties, and interviewing administrative officials such as judges, chief clerks, and department personnel.
I also work at the American Red Cross leading the Disaster Preparedness Team for the Mid-Hudson Valley Chapter. I initially began in January as an intern, but shortly after I was offered a part-time job as an AmeriCorps member. I accepted the position and will now be working with the Red Cross until November. My responsibilities range from contacting clients and scheduling our free preparedness programs, to recruiting, training, and coordinating a team of interns and volunteers.
Q. How did you learn about your internships, and what was the hiring process like?
A. I learned about the NYS Unified Court System internship online by searching for internship opportunities with the NYS government. There’s a great website sponsored by Governor Cuomo (http://nysinternships.com/nnyl/) that lists a number of internships throughout the state. This particular position I found on an online flyer (http://www.nycourts.gov/admin/publicaffairs/pdfs/Internship%20Flyer_Final.pdf). My hiring process was pretty straightforward; I sent in a cover letter and resume, was interviewed by my now supervisor, and was offered the position on the spot to which I accepted.
I learned about the American Red Cross internship through a friend. After a quick google search, I found a position with the Disaster Preparedness Team listed online so I sent my cover letter and resume in. At first I met with the then AmeriCorps Team Leader who interviewed me at the office. I also had a phone interview with a volunteer recruitment working from the regional headquarters in Albany. When the AmeriCorps position opened up they offered it to me and I accepted.
Q. What is the most interesting thing you’ve done at your internships?
A. The most interesting thing I’ve done at my first internship so far was to sit on the high profile David Tarloff murder trial. This case made front-page headlines when it occurred in 2008, and it was an awesome experience to watch two of the city’s top lawyers present their cases in court. I have been a fan of the show Law and Order since elementary school and to be given the opportunity to sit in on real life cases in the courthouse you see on television is thrilling.
The most interesting thing I’ve done at my internship at the Red Cross is go to schools, libraries, nursing homes, and community centers throughout Dutchess and Ulster counties. It’s easy to get stuck in the Poughkeepsie bubble while attending Marist, and I’m so glad I have been given an excuse to go out and see where I have been living the past four years.
Q. What was the most important thing you learned through your internships?
A. The most important thing I learned at my internship was that I want to go to law school. Before I had this experience in the courtroom, I wasn’t 100% sure that this path was the one for me. It is one thing to enjoy something in the classroom and another to enjoy it in the real world. I’m glad I had the chance to see what a day in the life of lawyers before I make the commitment.
The most important thing I’ve learned through my internship with the Red Cross is that the organization runs almost entirely on volunteers. I wish more people, especially students, knew about these opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community because I believe that the work the Red Cross does is extremely important.
Q. What do you wish you had known before starting your internships?
A. I wish I knew before I started my internship at the Court how much I’d like it because then I would’ve taken the LSAT earlier!
Before starting my internship at the Red Cross I wish I’d known that there are other departments and opportunities for internships with the Red Cross. When I applied to be on the Disaster Preparedness Team, I didn’t really understand what that meant. Now I know that the Red Cross has six different departments that recruit volunteers. If I had known this then, I would have applied to be part of a different department. Fortunately, I have grown to love the work that Disaster Preparedness does.
Q. How have the internships helped you?
A. My internship with the Court System has helped me to recognize my passion for the law. Beyond that, this opportunity also gave me life experience that is invaluable. Having to commute to the city every day and find my way around two boroughs on my own has taught me to be independent in practical ways.
The internship at the Red Cross has helped me tremendously in several different areas. It has improved my communication skills because I have to cold-call potential clients and market our programs to them. Another area this internship has helped in is public speaking since I have to present programs to audiences from preschoolers to the elderly. Finally, because I have a team of interns and volunteers that I am responsible for, this internship has given me invaluable leadership skills.
Q. How did your coursework help prepare you for your internships?
A. Taking Intro to Law and Mass Communications Law gave me the background I needed to understand what was going on in the courtroom when I was observing. However, what I realized is that even though I had the knowledge of the court system that I learned in class, it was nothing compared to what I learned firsthand by being present in the court room.
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