STORY BY NIK WASIK
One of the most important things I learned this summer during my internship wasn’t any sort of life-changing thing or any profound philosophical nonsense, it was actually that lawyers really, really like papers, and they really, really like keeping them around to gather dust.
All kidding aside, though, out of all the internships I’ve had (a whopping total of one), I enjoyed it. Of all the experiences I had during the internship that helped me learn about myself, there are three things that stood out to me.
First, be self-sufficient and dependable. Especially with a law firm that has a creed that includes the words, “be quick and efficient” and, “no surprises”. Being self-sufficient and dependable helps in achieving both of these things.
Instead of depending on someone to tell me what to do when I had a problem, finding a solution to the problem instead of going to a supervisor shows, at least to myself, that I’m able to solve problems on my own.
Second, be a quick learner. Quick learning might not be everyone’s strong suit, but learning quickly was one of the things that propelled me through my internship. I was shown how to use a good amount of technology while I worked, and I was expected to learn how to use it. At the same time, being intuitive and relating some of the machines to other pieces of technology I used helped me when I ran into a jam. Referring back to my first point.
Third, there’s no reason to say “no.” You’re an intern. You’re extra help. Just because you’ve been assigned to a certain project doesn’t mean helping someone else on another project is against the rules. If your project was a monster, like mine was, then be smart about how you spend your time. Helping others not only makes you build reputation throughout your internship, but socialization helps form relationships that help build your network. Networking isn’t just shaking hands and handing out business cards.
Internships are good experience. Outside of the halls of Drake’s business school, internships help you learn how an actual work-place operates. There may be an internship where you spend the entire time networking by learning everyone’s favorite Starbucks drink, and there may be others where there is an active engagement in process of the company. The most important aspect, however, is the networking that comes from it.
Everything that happens during an internship helps with networking. Talking to people, creating relationships, the occasional joke here and there.
It all builds your reputation and credibility. If that’s not one thing to take away from an internship, I don’t know what is.