The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Rebecca Rowland '16

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Student Intern: Rebecca Rowland '16


Internship Organization:
United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, Press Office

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York is the office of the federal prosecutor representing the US government for New York, Bronx, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester Counties. I work in the Press Office for current US Attorney Preet Bharara. The Press Office handles the press releases, press conferences, and press inquiries concerning the activities of federal prosecutions within the Southern District of New York.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
In the Press Office, my primary responsibilities involve aiding the writing of press releases, planning press conferences, answering questions posed by reporters to the press office, and gathering the news clips—a compilation of all news articles which discuss the cases pursued by the Southern District of New York US attorney’s office. In addition to my tasks in the office, I attend meetings, panels, talks, and press conferences held by Preet Bharara. I often watch case proceedings in the courthouse and report back to my co-workers so the press office stays informed and able to answer press inquiries.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
On the first day of my internship, a lot of information was thrown my way at once. I received my identification badge, computer password, email account, and access to restricted files. There were a few glitches along the way, such as connecting my phone, but by the end of the day most of those necessary set-up tasks were settled. I was also given my first real duty of the office, which was to gather news articles covering US Attorney Preet Bharara and the cases pursued by his office. The atmosphere of the office was busy, especially as lawyers, paralegals, and office chiefs would come into the office periodically to discuss various matters. Everyone was extremely friendly. While I may not have caught all of their names at the time, it was nice to be accepted into the work community so quickly.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
By working at the US Attorney’s office, I am privy to the inner workings of important federal prosecutions. In the time that I have been at the US Attorney’s office, the office announced that New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was under investigation for public corruption charges. US Attorney Preet Bharara held a press conference to discuss Silver’s prosecution and the complaint that was filed against him. I had the privilege to be involved in talks preceding the press conference as well as the opportunity to attend the conference itself. While not every day consists of attending a press conference on an issue of such importance, similar opportunities arise frequently.

What challenges have you faced so far?
A large portion of my job involves relaying information either to my co-workers or to the press. One of the challenges that I face every day is determining what information is the relevant to relay. A lot of the information I am exposed to is riddled with legal language. I have learned how to decipher information as I go. Thankfully my co-workers are patient and willing to explain terminology or processes. Responding to press can be tricky because a significant amount of information that comes through our office is confidential. In addition, reporters expect the Press Office to be an expert on topics concerning the US attorney’s office. Now that I am a few weeks into my job, I have gained more confidence in my own legitimacy to respond to press inquiries. Because much of the information is delicate, however, I often check with my co-workers before responding to reporters.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship? Wearing snowboots to the office and changing into work shoes at your desk is a great life hack for winter weather. Also, be sure to find somewhere to buy a good cup of coffee close to your office, and don't forget to inquire about whether you qualify for a transit subsidy.

 

 

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