Courtroom experience proves eye-opening

There’s no substitute for hands-on experience, whether the learning lab is connected to a class or outside of it in the working world. ‘Berg students are encouraged to complete internships as a way to prepare them for their careers, further develop their skills and begin to network for their futures. This week, we feature five students who completed internships that will help them take the next step after graduation.

Senior Austin Jagucki took a non-traditional path to find Heidelberg. He originally joined an engineering program at a big public school, but discovered both engineering and the large school atmosphere weren’t right for him.

At Heidelberg, he decided to pursue his longtime passion for history, and he found the intimate atmosphere he was looking for.

“At my first school, I had to schedule a meeting with my advisor two weeks in advance,” he said. “But here at Heidelberg, I can just walk in to her office and chat with Dr. (Courtney) DeMayo (Pugno). The professors and students interact more freely here.”

It was Dr. DeMayo Pugno who encouraged Austin to work for the writing center, which he has found to be a valuable experience.

“Working for the writing center makes me feel compelled to be a good example,” he said. “If I’m critiquing other people, my own writing needs to be good.”  

It also changed how he viewed his education.

“I started approaching learning like a job. It should be my main focus because it’s my responsibility.”

That newfound sense of responsibility helped push Austin to think about career options and opportunities. So when one such opportunity presented itself, Austin was ready to take advantage of it.

This past summer, Austin was one of seven students – five law students and two undergraduates – to intern with Chief Judge Ed Sargus, Chief Judge for United States District Court for the southern district of Ohio in Columbus. Austin spent his time in the courthouse observing courtroom procedures, reading cases, and analyzing Supreme Court decisions. He attended sentencing hearings, plead charges, trials, naturalizations, and pre-trail conferences.

While there is always tension in a courtroom, Austin liked the passion he saw.

“It was refreshing to see people genuinely doing good,” he said. “People were fighting to impact the world in a positive way.”

Austin was able to attend criminal and civil cases. He observed district attorneys, defense lawyers, judges, law clerks, and spent time with recent law school graduates.

“It was such a good experience,” he said. “It was a holistic immersion in the atmosphere.”

The internship solidified Austin’s interest in law. He’s currently researching law schools and plans on taking the LSAT next month. While he knows it’s a challenging path, he isn’t daunted by a career as a lawyer.  

“I work better under pressure,” he said.

For current students seeking internships, connect with Mark McKee in the Owen Center for Academic and Career Support to explore the possibilities.


Published in Outcomes

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