By: Conor Schneider
Ever since I began law school at the University at Buffalo School of Law, professors, recent graduates, and other students stressed the importance of my first summer internship. Of course, this was something that I had anticipated as a necessity to gain experience. Still like most law students, I was concerned about finances and how I could afford to take an unpaid internship and manage to pay for law school. For the past four years, I spent my summers painting lines on roads all across New York State, so an unpaid internship was a significant change of pace. Fortunately, I was able to accept an internship at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York due to the generosity of the Dennis C. Vacco ’78 Summer Fellowship Award, in conjunction with the University at Buffalo School of Law and its Public Interest Law Program.
But then COVID-19 happened, bringing along even more uncertainty. At first, I was told that my internship start date would be delayed and that the program was being reevaluated to comply with social distancing guidelines. Upon learning this, I assumed the worst and thought that my plans were going up in smoke. Additionally, I was informed that my security clearance was still pending, meaning that I was unable to begin working until I was cleared. Despite all of these uncertainties, the U.S. Attorney’s Office found a way to make the internship happen, and I was cleared a few days later.
Although interning during a global pandemic is less than ideal, I have always believed that life is what you make of it, and the same goes for an internship. The time, effort, and attitude that you are willing to put into your internship is what you will get out of your internship.
During my internship, I worked for two Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs). One focused on narcotics and the other worked primarily on white-collar crimes. While I was able to work in the office, not every AUSA was in the office because of the pandemic. This meant I quickly learned the importance of communicating effectively through email which was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Regardless, it was an incredible experience to work virtually and physically alongside the extremely dedicated AUSAs, and I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of interning in the U.S. Attorney’s Office and for the generous support provided by the Dennis C. Vacco ’78 Summer Fellowship Award, which made the internship possible.
Name: Conor W. Schneider
Name of Fellowship: Dennis C. Vacco ’78 Summer Fellowship Award
Placement: United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York
Location: Buffalo, NY
One important lesson I have learned from this fellowship: “An experience is only as valuable as you make it, so don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone and give it your all.”