Whether your hard-earned internship remains online or bravely commits to in-person plans, here is my advice on how to get the most from it.
You’ve heard it all before, right? Be polite to everyone – from partners to reception staff – and show respect and a willingness to learn. But I’ll be honest, I think that is the bare minimum, whether you are on an internship or not. Most – but hopefully all – vac schemers will demonstrate these qualities. After all, you have done a lot to get this far! To stand out, you will have to do something more. Show not just a willingness to learn, but an active interest in the work you have been given, and in the work of those who you are speaking to. If a trainee is nice enough to include you in their weekly round-up of news relating to their team, read it and ask questions. It is in going above and beyond that you will be remembered. While this can be harder if the internship is virtual or if you are more nervous, it is still possible. For example, if you have had a talk by an associate or taken part in a quiz organised by trainees, drop them an email or LinkedIn message afterwards to say thank you. This is a natural and easy way to start a conversation that will render you more memorable.
As part of the internship, you are likely to be given some long-running tasks to keep you busy alongside any day-to-day jobs or planned events. The key here is time management because you don’t want to be forgetting about this work until the day before it is due! My biggest advice is to set mini-deadlines for yourself along the way, but also to get the bulk of the work done sooner rather than later. This is to allow adequate time for you to ask any questions about the work and receive the answers back before it is too late. Allowing this time is especially important if you are in a busy team. Also, you don’t know what is going to happen later in the internship – you may be given more work by your team, asked to attend social events and more. You want to be able to say yes to these things as much as possible without the pressure of any deadlines looming.
As a lawyer (I am told) you cannot predict what each day’s work will bring you. Casework can often throw up unexpected issues and clients can be unpredictable. In my experience, vacation schemes definitely reflect this. So as much as you may like order and structure, you must balance this with a willingness to ‘go with the flow’ and reorganise your day at short notice. Likewise, know your limits, and don’t be afraid to say no or ask to re-arrange if you truly do have too much on that day. As long as you are polite and try to prioritise the right engagements, this is fine and to be expected of you. In fact, this is a skill necessary for lawyers, and a key take-home lesson from any internships.