This article is written by Ramanuj Mukherjee, Co-founder & CEO at iPleaders.
Let’s talk about common myths about internships.
Internship Myth# 1
I am too young to apply for this internship
Well, you are probably not. I have seen 2nd-year students interning at top law firms. I interned at AZB, AMSS and JSA when I was in 3rd year. Numerous other people get to do the same. The reality is that getting internship does not always depend on merit. You need to be at the right place at the right time. Otherwise, you need people who can recommend you (I am not one of those people). Law firms and in-house legal departments are full of interns who came based on a recommendation from a client or a partner or even a senior associate. If you don’t have “dad’s contacts” (although they are useful for those who have it), that is no excuse for not getting a recommendation –– you must strive to network and build some good will.
Internship Myth# 2
Doing this internship will increase my CV value and then I can get the internship I really want.
The reality is that there are plenty of idiots in the job market who have done internships at the top firms and big companies. Those few lines in the CV about your internship at a certain firm is not a hallmark of your quality and talent. Law firm partners and recruiters, who themselves have to oblige a lot of people by recommending their sons and daughters for internships know this very well. While I was an associate, I have come across many interns who were absolute morons and I would never want to hire them.
Hence, you are making a fool of yourself if you think interning at a certain place will improve your profile and for that reasons you are sacrificing the three objectives of internship described above. At the end of the day, your personality and presence of mind (when you are in front of them), and the language of your cover letter/ how you present your CV (when you are corresponding) will tell them a lot about your abilities than a place where you have interned. I see so many CVs and cover letters with grammatical/ spelling errors that it is not funny. A lawyer will be very wary of hiring someone who makes spelling mistakes in a CV irrespective of where that person has interned.
Internship Myth# 3
All my friends are interning this summer, if I don’t intern I’ll lose out.
Intern when you are really focussed on the three objectives, not otherwise. If you want to work at a law firm, interning at a NGO is not going to improve your chance of getting a law firm job. If you really want to work at an NGO, it may not be a smart thing killing your soul at a PSU or a law firm internship.
Decide, and stick to it. What you actually do should be aligned with your ultimate goals. If you don’t get the internship that will help your career goal, don’t go for some random internship just for the sake of it. That is not professional. You’ll waste your own and other people’s times.
Internship Myth# 4
People who set my college curriculum knows where I should intern
I am aware of the fact that your college probably prescribes specific types of internships. You are supposed to do NGO internship in first year, trial court in second year, Supreme court in third year and law firm in 4th year. Right?
Well – only if ever there was such a clear formula.
The only year in which I did what I was supposed to do according to the curriculum was in the first year – I interned at 2 NGOs. Then I soon realized that I don’t want to do litigation, why should I waste my time in trial courts? Instead, I interned with a historian, Ramachandra Guha, researching in quaint libraries in Kolkata on an alleged romantic relationship between Gandhi and a niece of Rabindranath Tagore. I also worked with IMS, which went on to set the stage for the work I did later with CLAThacker. In my third year, I just interned with 3 law firms back to back. In my 4th year I didn’t intern at all, instead choosing to do my own work. Did any of these stop me from getting a law firm job, the career of my choice at that time? Absolutely not.
I am not from an NLU, I will never get this internship
If you are reading this article till here, give yourself some credit. You are good enough to get any internship.
Yes it is easier to get internships from NLUs, but students from other colleges are also doing internships. If you are not from an NLU, you probably need to work harder towards getting an internship, but giving up or using this as an excuse is totally stupid. At Trilegal, which hires a lot of students from NLUs and pays one of the best salaries, I have met lawyers from all sorts of colleges which are not so famous. They are there because they do good work. You need to learn the ropes well, you need to reach, you need to do things that will get you noticed, but not being from an NLU does not close doors to good internships for you. How can you do it? More on that on another article – I write about things that law students care about in this space every Friday. You can find me on twitter here: https://twitter.com/law_ninja and subscribe to my updates here: http://fb.me/ramanujm
Focus on learning, figuring out what you like and getting a job when you are interning. The rest is most probably nonsense. Do not do an internship that does not fulfil these objectives – you might be better off reading a thriller at home.