Wayne Law student among 9 in nation to win internship

Wayne State University Law School's Zachary Zurek is the only student from Michigan and one of only nine in the nation to win a summer law internship with the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The U.S. Department of Justice received 514 applications for the summer 2014 internships in Washington, D.C., said Myra Hedin, administrative officer with the General Counsel and Review Division of the Bureau of Prisons.

The paid internship is expected to give Zurek, a Clarkston resident and second-year law student, a competitive advantage when he applies for post-graduate judicial clerkships and the Department of Justice's Attorney General Honors Program, said Krystal Gardner, assistant dean of Career Services at Wayne Law.

Zurek heard about the opportunity during his internship in summer 2013 at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit. He thinks that summer's experience and his background working for the Michigan Department of Corrections helped him win the federal internship.

"In 2010, the summer before my senior year at Michigan State University, I started working for the MDOC in Lansing as a student assistant," Zurek said. "When I graduated in 2011, I continued to work for the MDOC. I worked primarily in an office, not in an actual prison facility. Most of my work involved assessing and screening sex offenders and/or violent offenders for programming. I worked for the MDOC for two years and three months, until August 2012, when I came to Wayne Law."

He chose Wayne for law school because of its reputation and its strong offerings for public-interest law.

"I was also interested in the idea of living and working in Detroit," he said. "I wanted to make real-life contributions as soon as possible, and the community in Detroit consistently ranks public safety as one of its top concerns. With the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office and the U.S. Attorney's Office minutes away (from the Wayne campus) downtown, I thought I would have a good chance of being able to help the community during law school."

Zurek praised Wayne Law's Career Services Office for helping him with the application and interview process that led to the federal internship.

"Career Services was instrumental in convincing me to sell myself during interviews," he said. "The application process for the Federal Bureau of Prisons consisted of two rounds of phone interviews. I think I did well because Krystal Gardner convinced me to write down all of my selling points prior to the interviews."

Zurkek, who is co-founder of Wayne Law's Criminal Law Society, a research assistant for Associate Professor Anthony Dillof and an associate editor of The Wayne Law Review, said he's interested in a career as a prosecutor, but he's considering other career options, as well.

"My two top goals now are to obtain a federal judicial clerkship and to get into the Attorney General's Honors Program," Zurek said. "I know these are both very competitive career paths, but I've had a great experience at Wayne and great luck so far, so I do not see any harm in setting the bar a little higher."

Published: Thu, Mar 6, 2014