Many internship/summer associate positions undergo a mid-summer review to get an assessment of your summer experience. While these reviews can provide important feedback and opportunities for different experiences, it is also important that you do an honest self-review of your own work. Sometimes, as interns, we go through the motions and just live for the weekend, or at most, the end of your internship where you’ll get to have a little bit of summer vacation before the academic year begins. It’s easy to forget the forest for the trees. The forest being your first job post-law school/professional reputation.
Even if you don’t like the agency, or are convinced that this isn’t the area of law that you want to practice, you should still take the time to ask yourself whether you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for the best position possible after you graduate. In short, are you making the most out of this experience?
Now, I won’t act like I was the perfect intern all the time. Looking back, there are tons of times that I could have done better. There are also many times where I was so lost about what my end-goal was supposed to be. But now that I’ve been on both sides of this, I can see where I could have made better choices, and keep seeing other students make similar missteps.
So, ask yourself the following to determine if you’re doing everything you can to help your future job search:
One. Are you networking? Yes, I’m constantly about networking, I know. But it’s a constant thing–it’s not just going to evening events, which you should go to, even if they seem stuffy. Rather, networking means creating professional connections. So are you skipping out on meetings? Failing to observe recommended trial litigation? Avoiding any other form of interaction with attorneys? If so, know that this type of behavior could come back to bite you because those chances to interact with other lawyers, and to see how they interact in their natural settings will not only increase your own skill-set, but could transform into a meaningful professional relationship with another attorney.
Two. Are you being professional? It’s so easy to slip into a dangerous, too-casual zone once you’ve been at the work a few weeks. While office culture plays into how you act at work, you should still make sure that you are arriving to work on time (don’t just decide you’re going to impose your own summer hours); that you are delivering your work in a timely manner; and that you are wearing appropriate clothing that fits your work’s environment. And here, I would caution–even if your place of work is uber-cas (looking at you legal aid agencies!), try to keep it up a level because you are still a student, not a full-time attorney. I have seen many summer students suddenly show up mid-july looking like they rolled out of bed. I get it, they’re out enjoying their summer evenings and maybe their direct supervisor also wears extremely casual clothing. The (big) difference is that the attorney has proven themselves at the agency–the student hasn’t. So keep your looks work-appropriate.
Three. Are you acting like a re-hire? Meaning, are you portraying yourself like someone that a manager would want to re-hire for another internship or paid position? Even if you don’t like the agency or don’t want to work in this area of law–keep providing consistent, timely, quality work-product. Why? Because the legal community is small. What if you provide not-so-great work and your supervising attorney starts practicing in the field or firm you’re interested in working? What kind of opinion of you would you want her to have? I focus on this because I had a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad summer one year, and I still wish I hadn’t let the stress and fear get the best of me. So, don’t let it get the best of you!
As we head into the second half of summer internships, make it a goal to be a consistent professional and see what difference it makes by the end of the summer.