Five Knox students—Song Li '22, Alyssa Habschmidt '22, Joey Reyes '22, Phoenix Haessler '22, and Alex Davis '...
Majors in Political Science & Environmental Studies
Daniel Bien, who just completed his second year at Knox, is taking on community-based projects in an internship with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office this summer. Last year, Daniel spent part of the summer at the IIT Chicago-Kent Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program. He double-majors in political science and environmental studies, is a saxophonist for the Knox Jazz Ensemble, a member of Student Senate, a member of Phi Gamma Delta, a TRIO student, and a member of the Pre-Law Club.
How did you hear about your internship this summer at the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office? What does this internship involve?
I heard about the internship while I was interning with Knox alumna and Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison when we visited one of the divisions of the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. Much of the casework can be conducted in the office, while some other casework can be conducted outside in the field. Interns have the opportunity to go on investigations, visit jails, visit the coroner’s office, help develop cases for prosecutors, listen to court cases, visit the Juvenile Detention Center, and visit the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office Children’s Advocacy Center. Depending on the task you are assigned to, your assignment could take a day or maybe two weeks, and then you’ll get a new assignment, so I would say the work is very versatile.
Do you think your Knox experience helped prepare you for your State’s Attorney’s Office internship?
Taking classes that emphasize reading, writing, and research, I feel Knox has given me the skills to succeed in places like the State’s Attorney’s office that also place reading, writing, and research as priorities. Lots of legal work can be traced to the basics of reading and writing, and I have done plenty of each in all my classes, whether the class was in GDH [George Davis Hall] or SMC [the Umbeck Science-Mathematics Center]. Taking classes like American Political Thought, Constitutional Law, and Human-Environment Interactions have helped me gain new perspectives in life and have contributed original ideas related to my own interests in academia.
Why did you want to participate in the PLUS program in summer 2019? How did you find out about it?
I wanted to participate in this pre-law program because I plan to go to law school after my undergraduate studies, and I knew it would allow me to learn about the many fields of law, both in and outside of the classroom. The Knox Pre-Law advisor who happened to be my Constitutional Law I 362 professor, Professor Lane Sunderland, forwarded the program information via email to the Pre-Law Club email list. I applied for it in late February, and it was a selective application process. I was fortunate enough to be selected.
What were some of the PLUS program's highlights for you?
Many of the highlights happened out of the classroom. Visiting the Dirksen Federal Building was interesting and fun. That is the United States District Court for The Northern District of Illinois. We had the privilege to hear part of a terrorism case. Visiting the Criminal Court Building in Chicago was both fun and interesting. We visited Jones Lang LaSalle HQ in Chicago—the 44th floor of the AON building and DLA Piper. Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is a corporate real estate company and we had the privilege to talk to their in-house law firm. DLA Piper is a global law firm. Some in-class highlights are trial advocacy, which is mock trial, and learning about family law, criminal law, contracts, and intellectual property.
Was there anything especially surprising, memorable, or beneficial about the PLUS program?
Networking is very important in all fields, especially in the law field. While visiting the two corporate law firms, I was able to gain some networks with some of the employees and summer interns. Throughout my three weeks, I have gained so many connections on LinkedIn, email addresses, and people who want young people like myself to reach out to them. Being exposed to the different law fields has helped narrow what specialization I want in the law field.
Daniel's internship experience has been sponsored in part by the Jane Strode Miller Internship Fund.