In this article, Aditya Shrivastava, marketing executive at iPleaders discusses how to choose legal internships.
While in law school, most of us struggle with one major fear throughout the 5 years – to secure a good internship.
A bigger struggle is – with so many companies, firms, start-ups, and lawyers – where should one go. At one hand the opportunities almost seem inaccessible as most of the high profile places do not even reply to the emails, HRs are inhospitable on the calls, and nothing seems to work till you use a recommendation. On the other hand, there is always a constant contemplation whether to take the internship which has been offered.
Irrespective of the situation, the truth is that internships are perhaps the best to improve your chances of getting a job or a pre-placement offer. It gives you a hands-on experience in the area you want to specialize in, boosts your contacts, creates a desirable network and helps you adjust to the corporate set up.
Have you ever thought what it would be like if you could hand pick your own internships?
Can you imagine if you apply to organisations and receive an acceptance without much hassle?
Can you be the one selecting a firm that suits your needs and not the other way round?
All these questions might sound very eutopic but it is very much possible. The first question is: How do you select which is the right internship for you? Do you put in sufficient effort for zeroing down a place to intern?
Here are some of the ways in which you can decide what is the best place for you to intern:
1. Have An Objective
The very first step to decide on an internship is my determining what do you expect to gain from it. Are you looking to get a hands-on experience in the area you are trying to make your career in, just seeking a brand name on your CV or focussing on a specific skill-set?
There are huge possibilities that a big law firm or a company might not help you in developing your skill-set. You might learn the intricate nuances of litigation under an able lawyer who might not have a huge brand name and learn nothing at all while working with a litigation law firm. It is for you to set your priority straight. You need to avoid being blinded by alluring brand names and your peers. You need to concentrate on what you want – to learn or to have a big brand name on your resume.
A small tip – you need to know that an employer might not be concerned about where you have interned. He would be interested in what you have learnt in the course of your internship. The chances of being recruited by a smaller firm or company are way higher than a huge brand name. As you begin applying at organisations, it is important that you research first – what do you want to do and who can provide it to you.
At iPleaders we get numerous applications each day for our internship program, with people calling our office a “firm”, and seeking internships to become better lawyers. Our internship program helps you become a better researcher and writer – a skill which is needed by everyone in the industry but acquired by a few. However, the point is that we are not a law firm.
These are few basics that not many teach you. However, if you ask any of our Ace Your Internship Program students, they will clearly know what kind of application to send where. Their objectives are crystal clear and they exactly know what they need to do to get the recruiter’s attention in the blink of an eye for all the right reasons. Do you think you can do that?
2. Are Paid Internships Better?
It is understandable that for a student it might be extremely important to manage funds and get some extra pocket money. However, think it over from this perspective. Are few extra bucks more important than a place to learn or perform? Is some extra pocket money better than a secure career?
We all like some extra money. Finances clubbed with a good experience is always better. However, if you are getting an unpaid internship where you can learn more, always opt for that. A couple of friends in the industry tell me that every time they post an internship opportunity with stipend their inboxes flood with applications. However, in case of an unpaid internship, the response is very cold.
Did you know that legal internships are not always paid? You’d be lucky to find internships where they remunerate you to teach you. This is more so a case when it comes to mid-level law firms or government internships. Most of the employers believe in testing your skills and getting their work done. However, if you perform well, chances are they might give you a job too. At iPleaders, we believe in target- based internships; if the interns achieve it, they get paid. If they don’t, they don’t get paid.
Having said that, it’s always nice to be paid. In a recent study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, close to two-thirds of college graduates who worked at a paid internship eventually received a job offer, compared to slightly more than one-third of those working at unpaid internships.
Have you ever thought what you could do to get a paid internship when there are hundreds of students wanting to get through the same place? Have you ever wondered how can you score an internship that gives you the best of both worlds? If I were you, I would opt for this course.
As a tip, just choose whichever internship will help you in the long run.
3. Figure Out The Structure
Now that you have figured out the ideal place to intern, find out what structure is in place for the interns. You need to research and figure out what kind of interns the company looks at. Get a gist of what the company is to offer you in terms of learning experience, expectations, and most importantly the future possibilities that are in store for you.
This can be done by asking the HR Department or any other person who is responsible to hire interns. There are high possibilities of a small firm to not have any such structure, but you need to ensure, whether you will be provided with the relevant experience or not.
4. Should You Opt For Smaller Organisations?
To decide whether interning at a large company would be more impactful or at a smaller place does not come easy. It is obvious that a big company will come with a brand name and recognition that might provide you with an opportunity to work with more experienced individuals. You might get to network more and get better exposure as compared to a larger law firm or company. Your work responsibilities would naturally be more than a first-year associates responsibility at a big law firm due to the hierarchy that is followed in such law firms.
The work environment in a larger company might be more competitive. You might find it difficult to make a place for yourself or getting noticed may take longer than you expected. It might even take you a while to interact with the senior associates. However, that might not be the case at a smaller firm or company.
You can choose a smaller organisation and get a hands-on feel of how they usually work. Although, it is possible that you may not get a benefit from the name of the brand, however, you are most likely to get unparalleled work experience.
How To Make The Choice?
The answer to this is pretty simple. You need to be credible enough to be able to become the first choice. This is very much possible. Numerous students who took up this online course were able to get to the organisations of their choice. This course enabled them to reach a level where they were able to get the internships of their choice and perform better than their peers.
It does not matter how long you take to find the right kind of internship, but how you perform after you get one is what counts in the end. You need to give your best shot and be on your toes all the time. Concentrate less on your physical appearance and be mentally prepared for any kind of challenge put to you.
Remember: a good impression, once made, will always help you.
All the luck!