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Steps for Success During an Internship

So you’ve landed your dream internship – now what? Your top priority should be doing everything in your power to leave a lasting impression on the firm and your immediate supervisors. I recognize this is easier said than done, but most firms want you to succeed and do well during the internship because they want to offer you a full-time position after graduation. Here are a few steps you can take to impress the higher-ups at your organization.

Accept the projects you can

While no one wants to hear it, it’s important to remember that you are there to do the work that attorneys don’t want to do or simply don’t have time to do. Unless you are completely swamped with assignments, I would never say no to work. If you do have too much on your plate, set expectations when your supervisor asks for your assistance. A simple “I have a lot on my plate right now so this may take me until the end of the week to complete- would you still like me to take it?” goes a long way. Then, let your supervisors decide if you are still the right person for the job.

Ask for more work if you have capacity

Being a self-starter is the most important tip I can give to individuals starting their new position within a firm. If you run out of things to do, don’t be afraid to walk around the office or send out an email to inform people that you can handle more things to do – just don’t be surprised if they take you up on it because they will!

Be personable

With up-and-coming AI technology that can write legal documents faster than any attorney can, it’s pertinent to be personable with those you come in contact with – whether its clients, co-workers, supervisors, support staff, etc. Those connections are the only difference between us and the technology that may likely replace us eventually, so you want to start building and strengthening your networks in the legal field as early as possible. Ask to join business lunches, meetings with clients, or coffee with coworkers because the worst that someone can say is no.

Put your head down

Work as efficiently but accurately as possible. While a good supervisor will give you assignments, a great supervisor will give you those assignments that challenge you as a future attorney. You want to show those assigning you work that you can thrive in a legal environment and complete an impressive level of work. You want to demonstrate that you are suited for the legal profession. Senior attorneys will understand that you are still learning and cannot complete work as efficiently or as thoroughly as they can, which makes it important to show improvement, and that you appreciate the work you receive. Receiving an assignment from a supervisor is a positive sign because it shows that person has trust and confidence in your to complete the task well.

Working as an intern is not for the faint of heart because you can have a substantial amount of work assigned to you at once with high demands and higher expectations. What matters is that you understand the work you receive, ask questions if you don’t, and complete the work at a level of competence that shows you have an interest in what you are doing.

About the Author:

In May of 2020, Hannah graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations and a B.A. in Psychology from Auburn University. After working at Ankin Law Office for almost a year, Hannah discovered an interest in law and joined the Chicago-Kent community. Hannah is currently a 2L representative for the Society of Women in Law, as well as a member of various organizations matching her passions, such as the First-Generation Law Student Association and the Chicago Kent Animal Legal Defense Fund. Following graduation, Hannah looks forward to a career in estate planning, real estate, or business law.

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