By Mitali Karwa, O.P. Jindal Global University, Haryana.
You are a recent law school graduate with a killer cover letter, a stellar Grade Point Average (GPA) and a lot of glowing recommendations, however, if internships are missing from your resume, you might have a few extra bumps on your way!
Internships play a vital role in the life of any law student, as they not only provide you with a first-hand experience but also inculcate many values within you, which could help you in your professional as well as personal life. It is where higher education meets employment. It allows one to gain experience by working in an organisation. The duration of the internship could vary from one week of intensive work to working once a week for a year.
The legal profession has a varied and unique experience to offer an upcoming lawyer by way of an internship. By providing you with first-hand experience and a close look at the day-to-day responsibilities, it gives you a direction towards which you can move to accomplish your goals. By working in a professional setting, you will learn how to behave which will help you to ensure that you never stand out for the wrong reason. It helps you understand the concept of how to “think like a lawyer”. Interning at a law firm can come in handy when the Bar Exams arrive. A law firm internship is also ideal if you want to work at Corporate and Litigation firms. Above all, such an internship makes a law school graduate much more marketable, by building a good resume.
But before you undertake an internship at a law firm, seek answers to the following :
- Does it provide you with a chance to get an edge over your fellow mates? Look at your internship as an opportunity to separate yourself from your associates. Think about the experience, knowledge and skills that you can gain from this internship which can help you stand out from the herd and will build your own professional brand. Imagine the next career fair that you attend and at that time what would you want to share with the recruiter? How would you like to describe your winter and summer semester breaks to him so that he ends up hiring you?
- Does that law firm internship give you an opportunity to figure out the kind of career you aim for? The pivotal part of an internship is gaining experience at a specific job, so that you can decide whether it is something you see yourself doing after graduating from the law school. When picking up an internship, look for the one that could truly offer you a hands-on experience. This could allow you to make well informed decision down the line and find the path that works best for you.
- Does the environment you are working in comprise of smart and motivated people? You will naturally work hard and push your limits, if you are surrounded with people who are excited to come to work every day.They will make your internship experience enjoyable and you will instinctively tend to create a similar positive work culture in the next phase of your career.
- Does it give you access to mentors from whom you can learn? It is important to have at least one mentor whom you can rely on, to help you navigate through the work atmosphere you choose. Look for such internship opportunities which have a built-in feature of supporting the interns to access higher level executives. This will not only increase your exposure within the organisation, but you will be able to learn from the people with expertise as well as experience.
- Does it help you in using the tools you have in your toolbox? To be able to apply the knowledge you have gained in the classes, is the key to nail your internships. Also, try to pick up on the skills that can’t be taught in a classroom, according to the field you intend to pursue a career in.
- Does it enhance the skills required to be an expert in your field of choice? Check the relevance of the skills you will learn while interning. Ensure that these are the skills you will require to become an expert at the job you are aiming for. This will not only make you more marketable, but will also represent you as a “fast learner” who is looking to add values fast.
- Will you get a chance to identify the work culture that resonates your set of values? Look for an internship that offers you an environment that aligns with what matters the most to you in a workplace. Whether you are looking for leaving the office on Friday at 2 p.m., or you are looking to work for 100 hours per week, you will gain an understanding of what is expected by a company and the way they do business.
- Does it give you a chance to work on a real project? Since the goal of your internship should be to make an impact in the law firm, if you get an opportunity to work on a significant project at the firm, it will be a slayer thing to tout in your next interview. Acquaint yourself with the kind of work interns have been asked to perform in the past so that you get an idea of what to expect in the course of your internship. Undertake the internship with the aim of making the greatest impact you can. This will not only help you walk away as the superstar for the summer but you can also expect a potential job offer(read Pre Placement Offer) coming your way.
- Is it a way to test what you’ve learnt? Certify your interest in the field you have chosen, by assessing what you have learnt. Ask yourself if it is something that you see yourself doing in the future and take this opportunity to explore different paths within your field of choice. As internships give you an excellent exposure to a potential career path without having to actually to choose it for the long run, take this time to gain a better understanding of what you want.
- The chance to experience a new city. Though it is not something you actually need to prioritise, if given an option, you should prefer internships in different cities. Doing so will help you come out of your comfort zone, as you won’t be on your campus or at home for the summer.
Every employer looks for a worker with some experience and will choose experience over the GPAs you get in law school. So, the best way for a law student to build their future is by taking up internship opportunities while they are still in law school. Law firm internships teach students valuable skills that can work well for them by boosting their resume and helping them to be the best candidate for their dream job. So the next time you are planning on a law firm internship, hopefully you will know its value, learn to focus and come back as a winner.