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Monday, May 20, 2013

Tips for a Successful Summer

A summer internship is not only an excellent opportunity to learn more about a particular legal field while developing your legal skills but it is also a critical time to build lasting connections that may lead to future post-graduate employment. Here are a few  tips for making the most of your internship and having a successful summer.

Be prepared.
Avoid starting your internship on the wrong foot by arriving ill-prepared. Have you confirmed your start date and time? Is your first day at the office or are you meeting somewhere else for an orientation? Give yourself plenty of time for your commute on the first day. It is always better to arrive a little early than late. What is the dress code? If you are unsure, call ahead and ask. Ask for clarification if the dress code is business casual or casual as the terms can mean different things depending on the organization. Even if the office dress code is informal, there may be occasions that still call for business attire including court appearances and client meetings. When in doubt, always wear a suit. Also, be sure to take plenty of notes during your tour of the office and training.

Be proactive.
Do not be afraid to ask questions! Questions are expected and welcomed as they usually mean your are engaged and conscientious about doing the work correctly. Also be open and communicative by meeting with your supervisor about how best to keep in contact with them over the summer and consistently keep them appraised of the progress of your projects. Use your down time to offer assistance and ask for new assignments; do not wait for the work to be assigned to you.

Be professional.
While some offices may appear casual and laid-back, it is important to remain professional and take your work seriously. The usual common sense rules apply: be kind and respectful to everyone in the office including the support staff and other interns; do not check your personal email account or make personal calls during work hours; do not drink excessively with other attorneys or staff members at after work functions. Also, remember that some things considered acceptable behavior for full-time, permanent members of the organization are not always considered acceptable behavior for summer interns. Be on time even if every attorney in the office arrives late; do not use bad language even if everyone else in the office curses; and refrain from getting caught up in office gossip.

Lastly, be sure you end your internship on a good note. Identify any loose ends prior to your last week of work, provide case summaries of everything you have worked on and update your supervisor on the status of any unfinished projects. Your summer employer may act as a future reference, networking contact, or be a potential post-graduate employer and it is important to leave a lasting, positive impression.

For further reading:
First Week of Work: Make or Break Your Summer (via Pass the Baton)

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