The Final Metamorphosis from Caterpillar to Butterfly

Jacksonville, North Carolina is home to more country music stations than all other radio stations combined, has the best fast food chain in the world, Waffle House, and is also known for its most beloved non-profit, Possumwood Acres. The two months that I spent there were filled with a million new experiences–I tasted grits for the first time, learned how to determine if a bird is dehydrated/emaciated, and saw a wild horse colony on an island. Now that my experience is quickly coming to a close I can say that I was really lucky to be exposed to the inner workings of a non-profit, the techniques necessary to take care of injured wildlife, and the “southern mentality.” It’s amazing what one person can do when they set their mind to it. Or when they get an unpaid internship and want to get as much out of the experience as they can. Either way you can’t go wrong.

Baby birds cuddle up really close to keep each other warm

Having completed a whopping 245 hours at Possumwood Acres, I am really proud to say that I learned beyond what I initially anticipated. I met all of the requirements for the “General Checklist” and went on to begin to complete the “Advanced Intern Checklist,” a fact of which I am very proud of. I am extremely satisfied with the experience I got interning at Possumwood Acres, and I can most certainly say that it helped me determine what I want to do with my future. Although I very much enjoyed my involvement in animal care (despite the stress associated with the job), I can honestly say that though I will not be continuing this specific avenue for a career, I am definitely invested in continuing my path in the environmental field. This internship has solidified my interest in protecting the environment in the many forms that that may come in. From this experience I learned that I am even more passionate about animals than I originally anticipated and that I am capable of learning a great deal in a short period of time.

A juvenile American Robin excitedly hops out of the incubator every time I open the door

For anyone interested in getting an internship, I would apply as early as possible. I managed to get this internship in early November. The earlier you start looking for internships, the more likely it is that you’ll actually get one. Employers will also be more likely to hire you for the job because the application pool is much smaller in early November and December. I would also try to narrow down your search to a specific type of internship, so you aren’t wasting your time applying for a position that you aren’t interested in. I knew that I absolutely wanted to work with animals so I bypassed anything that seemed like a glorified office worker position.

An osprey gets a physical examination by some of our experienced staff members

I think I am most proud of myself for doing something that was outside of my comfort zone because although I knew that the work would be tough, grueling, and hard at times, I also knew it would be extremely satisfying.

Sabrina Pond ’18

Reflecting on A Summer Well-Spent

Getting up to the office everyday was no small feat!

Heading into the summer, I knew that this internship would be critical for me for so many reasons — since this would be my final year at Brandeis, I knew that this could very well be my last opportunity to get my feet wet before diving right into the legal field after graduation.  Fortunately, now that the experience has come to an end, I can safely say that my time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office was a tremendous and rewarding experience that I will never forget.

I remember my first day at the office ten short weeks ago- how I needed to write myself a note in the morning so I remembered how to get into the building and up to the 6th floor (navigating the building isn’t as easy as it sounds!)  It took some time, as it always does, but with every passing week, I found myself growing more and more accustomed to my surroundings, and to my everyday tasks at the office.  After a while, I no longer needed assistance from my supervisor before beginning a new project like redacting personal information of witnesses, plaintiffs or defendants from documents for trial, or sifting through witness testimony and highlighting important points for the Assistant U.S. Attorney to use during summation.  That wasn’t the case during the first week when I needed the assistance of my Paralegal Specialist advisor to show me how to use the scanning machine or create exhibit lists — and for someone who doesn’t like asking for help, that really took me out of my comfort zone.  Nevertheless, by the end of my internship, I was the one answering others’ questions, and not asking them myself, which was fine by me.

When the summer began, and even as far back as when I applied for this internship last winter, I identified my primary learning goal as preparation for entry-level employment following graduation.  As I reflect back on my summer internship, I am happy to report that I have met my goal — I have developed tangible skills which will be applicable in every future job or academic setting that I find myself in.  I have improved my ability to synthesize information, read analytically, highlight the important points in a vast collection of documents, and of course, perform research, which will be pretty much all I do if and when I pursue a law degree.

Besides this, I have made some excellent contacts at my internship, including my co-interns, supervisors and others who I interacted with on a daily basis (including this fellow below).

On the 10th floor every afternoon, I would take time to visit a mother hawk and her newborn babies (who may be difficult to see in this picture!)

I’d like to think that every experience you have in life is defined by who you meet, and as Dan Gilbert concludes in my favorite book, Stumbling on Happiness, the best way to predict how you will feel in a given future situation is to listen to others who have been there before.  Over the course of the past ten weeks, I have gotten some priceless guidance from the aforementioned people (not hawks) about my impending job search, from how to tackle interviews to how to address potential employers in an email.

But above all else, what I got out of my summer internship was positive reinforcement from people who have been working in this field for decades that I was in the right place.  And really, that is all I could have ever asked for- confirmation of what I already suspected: I am right for this, and this is right for me.

To those out there who are interested in interning in the legal field or with the Department of Justice, I would strongly recommend that you DO something at your internship.  Do not just sit around idly watching jury trials (although once in a while those are great to observe).  There is always something you can be doing, and if there isn’t, don’t be afraid to ask for an assignment.  Everything you do will be a learning experience- you just have to do them first.

– Ricky Rosen ’14