Adam Nowak has built an impressive resume of internships during his time at Michigan State University. The senior, who has a double major in Humanities-Prelaw and Criminal Justice with minors in Law, Justice, and Public Policy, has interned for a U.S. Senator, a circuit court judge, the Governor’s Executive Office, a human rights organization, as well as the MSU Licensing Office and MSU Counterfeiting Office.
Now in his last semester as an undergraduate, Nowak reflects on his internship experiences, the important lessons they have taught him, and how these internships have helped during the early stages of his professional career.
Nowak’s first internship was as a Judicial Intern for Judge David A. Groner in the Wayne County Third Circuit Court. There, he worked in civil court, attending settlement conferences and motions days. He also drafted bench briefs for Groner, which the judge read prior to the settlement conferences.
“Bench briefs comprise both parties’ information for why they believe a motion should or should not be accepted by Judge Groner, as well as relevant facts of the case and relevant law,” Nowak said. “I would finish these briefs with a recommendation for the judge to use at the end of the settlement conference, which he almost always agreed with and used.”
Nowak’s time as a Judicial Intern provided him with a deeper understanding of the court system and how complex even a simple case, where one party is clearly liable, can become.
Human Rights Organization Internship
Nowak then worked with the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organization, an internship he discovered through the Excel Network’s Global Remote Internship Program.
“In this internship, I would research various European countries asylum and refugee laws and compare those results to that of Hungary’s,” Nowak said. “My research was used to lobby the Hungarian Government to loosen their strict asylum laws.”
“In this internship, I would research various European countries asylum and refugee laws and compare those results to that of Hungary’s. My research was used to lobby the Hungarian Government to loosen their strict asylum laws.”
Nowak also managed the Mahatma Gandhi Human Rights Organization social media pages and expanded its presence across multiple platforms. This remote internship taught Nowak the importance of bonding with colleagues and supervisors.
“While inadvertently, I learned to find common hobbies and areas of interest with people I meet to establish a strong rapport,” Nowak said. “My boss and I always talked about the premier league when we were not discussing the internship.”
Governor’s Executive Office Internship
Nowak’s next internship was with the Executive Office of Governor Gretchen Whitmer where he worked as an Appointments Intern in the Appointments Division. In this role, he conducted background checks for potential appointees to various boards, commissions, and judgeships. The background checks ensured the Governor’s Office was aware of the appointee and that their values matched those of the office.
“The most valuable thing I learned at this office was strengthening my teamwork abilities and my ability to communicate more effectively,” Nowak said.
Constituent Services Internship
Next, Nowak was a Constituent Services Intern at the Detroit Field Office for U.S. Senator Gary Peters where he answered phone calls from constituents who sought assistance from the office for various issues.
“That office can quickly coordinate with federal agencies, such as the Passport Agency and the Social Security Administration, to streamline the intricate process for constituents who are suffering from the backlog some federal agencies are facing,” Nowak said.
“Before this internship, I thought that calling your senator for help with the federal system would be useless. But that office helps people overcome serious, potentially life-threatening problems, every day.”
Nowak’s role involved answering the phone, understanding the person’s situation, and putting them in contact with the proper authority to help them with whatever problem they face.
Nowak’s major takeaway from this internship is knowing what to do if you have a problem that requires federal assistance.
“Before this internship, I thought that calling your senator for help with the federal system would be useless,” Nowak said. “But that office helps people overcome serious, potentially life-threatening problems, every day.”
MSU Education and Internship
Nowak’s most recent (and current) internship involves him working in the MSU Licensing Office doing research on trademark counterfeiting and licensing laws and in the MSU Counterfeiting Office where he researches anti-counterfeiting and will take the Anti-Counterfeiting and Product Protection (A-CAPP) professional certification course. As part of this job, he also drives around in a golf cart on MSU Football gamedays, searching for unlicensed vendors selling MSU merchandise.
“MSU prepared me for my internships by teaching me discipline and accountability,” Nowak said. “MSU taught me persistence and a constant drive to be the best person I can be, and this university will forever have my gratitude.”
“MSU prepared me for my internships by teaching me discipline and accountability. MSU taught me persistence and a constant drive to be the best person I can be, and this university will forever have my gratitude.”
Nowak credits the help and support he has received from a wide range of mentors at MSU including Katie Rendi, his favorite MSU advisor; Maggie Harris, his internship coordinator who made him aware of the Global Remote Internship Program and various events and opportunities that match his career plans; Julie Krupa, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, who worked with Nowak on an independent study focused on theoretical approaches to juvenile firearm carrying; and the rest of his dedicated professors.
“If it were not for them, I would not be where I’m at today,” Nowak said.
Plans for the Future
After he graduates in December, Nowak plans to become a Financial Fraud Investigator or a Brand Protection Specialist. Later in his career, he wants to work for the United Nations as a diplomat in a foreign country.
“It has always been my dream to be in the UN and I think I could bring about effective change if I had the chance to work with them,” he said.
Nowak offers this advice to other students considering pursuing an internship: “Meet people, build connections, and be open. Trust in people and let them trust in you. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t build a strong network of friends, family, and professionals in my circle. I know they have my back, and I have theirs. Join clubs and organizations and be involved as much as you can. You may think you have a long time until graduation, but time really does fly! Don’t let yourself live with regret and involve yourself in the campus culture as much as you can.”