There is no question that I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed up for my internship. I wanted to be an intern ever since I was a freshman, but the opportunity never came along. Well, let me rephrase that, I could never afford to forgo work in order to do an internship. However, during my junior year, I found myself with the opportunity and a supporting partner- so I became an intern.
I wanted it to be related to the legal field, but I also didn’t want to be in a firm, getting coffee for everyone. Though I must say I love Starbucks runs. The opportunity then was working for the Small Claims Advisory Program*. There I advice self-help litigants on the procedure of small claims court. I have learned a great deal about civil procedure, but Small Claims is still significantly different from what I want to do- for starters, Small Claims Court doesn’t allow attorneys unless there is an appeal. And even then, they are allowed, but not required.
I have gone through over two-thirds of the program so far, and until recently, my experience had been mixed. Unlike most college students who get to intern, I am also working part-time. This situation produces schedule conflict, and an overly tired and overworked intern- me. Yet, even with how mixed my experience has been, I still thought it to be worth it and would recommend it to anyone. Why?
Unlike most part-time jobs you can get, internships usually allow you to get some experience in your field. This helps graduate and professional schools (if that’s your goal) to see that you do know what you’re getting yourself into. Most interns are grouped into a handful of interns under the supervision of a staff person who might get to know you well enough to write you a recommendation letter. Furthermore, being an intern takes a great deal of commitment. Let’s face it, if you can be responsible when you’re not getting a paycheck at the end of the week, imagine the kind of work ethic you would have when there’s an economic incentive attached to your contract? And last, but not least, being able to balance an internship with school and your social life shows that you can balance your life and this is a quality employers (and grad and professional schools) really like.
The cool part (for me, at least) is that my internship came with really awesome perks. Despite of the great deal of whining that has come out of my mouth because of the commute to downtown L.A. (don’t judge unless you’ve lived it), I’ve got a chance to do two very cool things.
On Monday, I got to shadow a judge. This was one of the most amazing experience I’ve had in my life. The judge was from the juvenile dependency court. And even though I am not allowed to speak about what happened, let me say that it was so touching, that I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up representing children for a living. When people talk about “making a difference,” this is truly a place and career in which you could actually (and directly) make a difference.
Fast forward to this morning, when I got to chaperone high school students to a mock trial at a District Court. Now this experience wasn’t as eye-opening as the last one, but there is something about public service that rewards you in ways other things do not.
Anyhow, are you thinking of doing an internship? Go for it! And if you haven’t thought about it yet, hopefully this post might encourage you to try it. It’s really never too late to do one, I am a senior. AND! I almost forgot. It is also a nice way to expand your network.
-Mrs. This One
*Although I am an intern for such office, my internship is not directly with that office.