Summer Series: Learning from the Past

Our Summer Series continues! This series highlights different Latina students and law grads as they embark in their summer jobs and/or bar prep all across the country. We hope to provide a variety of work experiences, options for a healthy work-life balance, and general motivation through different guest contributors to help you to take charge of your summer and professional goals!  Today, Linette, a rising 2L in California, describes how she’s using lessons learned from her internship last summer to start her current children’s rights focused internship on the right foot!  

Before starting law school, I had a lot of fears and insecurities about my abilities. I had heard “horror” stories of people having to drop out of law school or not being able to find internships. I was so scared that it would happen to me too. On some random Wednesday in November, all of these fears accumulated, and I felt so pessimistic about everything. Instead of sitting there with these negative thoughts, I sought out upperclassmen who were in the lobby at the time and vented with them. They reassured me that they too had experienced the same fears during their 1L year and then gave me tips on how to prepare for finals. Hearing that other people had felt the same insecurities and then managed to survive, really gave me the encouragement that I needed. In the end it all worked out and I was able to secure two internships during my spring semester. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or stressed throughout your law school journey, reach out to others who have been there before. There is always someone who was feeling the same way you are feeling and seeing how they got through it might help you realize that you too can get through this.

My first internship was with a great organization that worked with immigrant children and I really enjoyed the work that I did there. However, there are some things that I wish I had done differently in order to make a better impression.

Be Realistic about Time Commitments

  • I was so excited to dive into all things related to immigration that I over committed to too many projects. This resulted in me feeling stressed and having to rush to different appointments.  Furthermore, it made me look bad when I wasn’t able to meet certain deadlines. Looking back, I should have set myself up for success by being realistic about my availability and factoring in the time I would need to study or commute to the office.

Maintain Good Working Relationships

  • It’s always good to maintain a good relationship with the organizations you’ve worked with in the past. In my experience, many non-profit organizations actually work together on certain projects or otherwise communicate. If you make a bad impression or leave on a bad note, word may get around and affect your ability to work at another organization. I wasn’t able to say goodbye to my past supervisor in person and I still feel like that left her with the impression that I was ungrateful for all that she had done. Learn from my mistake and make sure to let your supervisors and co-workers know how grateful you were for their help and patience.

Right now, I am participating in my first full-time legal clerkship at a non-profit that focuses on Children’s Rights. Since this is only my second week I will focus on what I’ve learned about securing internships.

Keep Yourself Open to Communication

  • Like in any relationship, good communication is key. My first big slip-up with communication was the fact that my voicemail was full when they called to offer me the job. This resulted in them offering the job to someone else. In the end, the person declined the offer and they were able to offer the job to me again. However, I could have avoided this stressful situation by making sure that my voicemail was clear to receive messages in expectation of a job offer.

Be Open to Different Areas of the Law

  • I came to law school with the idea that I wanted to practice immigration law, but I’ve also been exploring other areas of law through clinics and internships such as my current internship in Children’s Rights. This has allowed me to meet so many different attorneys who practice in various public interest fields. As a result, I’m growing my network and creating connections that extend past different practice areas. Even though I may end up wanting to work in a different field of law, I’m sure that the legal skills that I’m learning here will be transferable to any other practice area.

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