Getting an internship is a great way to set yourself up for success once you graduate. Not only does it give you in the field experience, but it also introduces you to experts in the field that help mentor you. By building connections, you create opportunities that you can develop in the future into possible career prospects. As a law student, having an internship is crucial to gain exposure to different legal specialty fields, such as business, criminal, or environmental law. Grow your current skills and abilities by getting an internship with a law firm that specializes in the legal field you want to enter. It can also help you decide if that is the specialty you want to follow. If you need help getting an internship, here are a few tips that you can follow—from how to send your application to how to handle the interview itself.
- Send Out Your Resume To Large Firms And Small
While you want to aim for your first choice law firms to work with, remember that gaining experience is the most valuable part of the internship; have your second and third choices picked out too. You want to be optimistic about where you will land, but there is nothing wrong with doing an internship at a small firm with one or two lawyers. One crucial advantage of applying to a small firm: competition for the position is slim, meaning you have a better chance of being hired. You have a better opportunity to shine and develop your skills compared to if you were at a bigger corporation where you can feel invisible.
If you don’t know where to start your search, start by asking friends or school counselors and advisors. They can steer you in the right direction. Otherwise, search online for job listings. Look for law firms that align with your goals and one in the specialty field you want to join so that you get the exposure you need. It will also help you decide early on if that is the practice that you want to enter.
When you are ready, start sending your resume, cover letter, and a short letter asking about future openings to all your choices. Do this months before you want an internship so that you can see the level of interest each firm has to bring you on. By doing it earlier than average, you show them initiative and your willingness to go the extra step to be prepared for a role with them. You are also sending your letters earlier than most of your peers, giving you an advantage over your competition.
- Dress For Success
When you are brought in for an interview, ensure that you put your best foot forward in terms of your appearance. Employers want to hire someone who will represent the organization appropriately. When you overdress for the interview, you show them that you will take the job seriously and can be ready to dress the part when need be.
This doesn’t just mean your appearance either. Ensure that you have an appropriate email and voicemail message set up in case someone does call you. If you are still using an email that you made when you were younger that involves a lot of numbers or other words, it may be time to create one for your professional use. Also, make sure that your voicemail is set up for someone to call you. Keep it short and simple by having it include your name, number, and a short message about getting back to the caller. You don’t want to deter someone from leaving you a message because you decided that recording a song to be your voicemail was a good idea.
- Be Prepared
While this may seem like an obvious statement, it does bear repetition. When you get brought in for the interview, ensure that you have your resume memorized with specific jobs or skills that you want to highlight. Be prepared to answer any question they have. An excellent way to get ready is to search on Glassdoor for the firm and see what questions others have been asked in the interview process. It is a great way to prepare yourself for any challenging conversations you may have in the interview.
Don’t forget to do your research on the firm either. Ensure that you can answer any question on cases they have handled and what they are famous for. When you can answer those questions with confidence, you showcase that you did your research and are invested in them just as much as they would be in you. This also shows them how good you are at researching and discussing certain points.
You should also ensure that you bring questions to ask your interviewer. Nothing shows them that you want the job more than taking advantage of their offer to learn about them and the firm. For example, ask your interviewer for advice and their experiences. You will learn more about the people there, and you could gain valuable knowledge that you can use yourself. Ask about the day-to-day activities and the challenges that new hires experience. When you ask these questions, you can create a better image of what the future at the firm holds and this will help you decide if the position aligns with your strengths.
Getting an internship is not easy, but the rewards you receive, such as new friends, experience, and training, will prepare you for a successful career. By interning, you show future employers that you are ready for a challenge and ready to learn more. If you don’t get your first internship, don’t feel discouraged and try again. The best part about looking is the fact that you get to stretch your skills even before you walk through the door. You practice your communication, research, and even negotiation skills. The more you do interviews and prepare, the better you will be at it in the future. If you make a mistake during the process, take the chance to learn from it so that next time you won’t do it again.