HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO A GREAT CAREER by Emmanuella Doreen Kwofie

If you are the social media type, you would probably have come across videos and memes of how interns are made to do silly jobs  for their bosses such as fetching water, buying waakye , sweeping, et cetera. Many a time, students look at internships in two different ways: an opportunity to make money or an opportunity to while away the long vacation. It is based on these thoughts that many students do not find interest in interning. The purpose of this article is to help you understand what your true purpose for interning should be, the reasons why you should intern and what to do or not do as an intern.

Basically, an internship is a period where a student works with an organization or institution in order to understudy it for a specified period. An internship is usually for a short-term: it may be for a few weeks or a few months.

It may seem difficult to find a place to  intern but trust me when I say it is very easy. Everyone is looking at interning with renowned organizations.  Internships go beyond the money. If you happen  to intern with a renowned organization and get paid, count it as a bonus.In situations where  you are confused as to where to intern, it is advisable to start with a small organization or a project. It may be a church, school , family or random internet search. Finding a place to intern is simple if you are open minded about it and do not focus on the money aspect. some may require long procedures of application including  interviews.  These applications, CV writing and interviews are lifetime  experiences on their own. I have attended about two interviews with law firms for an internship position. I did not get called but the experience acquired during these interview sessions helped me in subsequent ones. I have no doubts that there are law students in their final year who have probably not attended an interview before , not even by a student board. The corporate world is full of CVS and writing of application letters. If you cannot do this then you become like an athlete who trains for months for a competition, only  to start before the gun is fired and gets disqualified even before the race begins .  It all becomes wasted efforts .

 

Reasons why you should have an internship

One main reason why you should intern is that internships build you a work experience and expertise. What is learnt in school is not equivalent to the skills you use on the job. As law students, you at think you have a 4.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) and as such you know everything in the legal field. This is not the case when you intern with law firm. The law faculty does not teach you how to draft a writ or a bill. Neither does it teach you how to draft presidential pardons for condemned criminals and a lot more. The legal profession  is not always about knowing the law, rather it goes beyond that. The only way to have the skills which is not taught in law school is by way of interning. I learnt how to operate a printer, make recommendations to a Minister,send fax, draft letters to Ghanaian Embassies and High Commissions and sit in a Supreme Court hearings through interning. Experience cannot be bought or taken away from you. Internships help you to be confident on the job because of your experiences. There is a saying that experience is the best teacher. Allow internship to give you that extra training you need to become an outstanding legal practitioner.

Another reason why you ought to intern is that internships build you a new and quality set of network. Network refers to a circle of people who have skills and experiences you want to tap from. It also includes people who have attained greater heights you want to reach as well. The quality of your network determines how you achieve your dreams. Iron sharpens iron. Thus, the people you connect with during internships, including your co-interns, are meant to be kept. They go a long way to make your corporate journey smooth. Many interns forget to stay in touch with these people. I have interned with three organisations so far and I still chat with my bosses and co-interns. The friendship, the bond and connection should be kept alive.As future lawyers, our job depends on clients and client recommendations. Internships go a long way to help in your future career.

Also, internships help you discover what your strengths and weakness are in a corporate setting.It is during internships that you get to learn about what your real strengths and weaknesses are. Some people, before interviews, search on the internet to find what to say when asked of their weaknesses. The website doesn’t know you as much as you know yourself.Internships reveal to you what your true strengths and weaknesses are. You may find out that you are not time conscious, you cannot take so much pressure or probably you do not know how to dress or speak politely to clients. This revelation enables you to work on your weaknesses and improve your strengths for your future career.

Lastly, internships enable you  to contribute your diligence to society. You get  to give back to society because you  invest either your money, time or resources. Working as an intern is not always about being on the receiving end and always learning from your superiors on the job. You are given an opportunity to also contribute to the success of whatever you are made to work on. The research work, typing, following lawyers to court, briefing cases and the utilization of experiences obtained from other places also count. Performing these duties without being promised a payment, to me, counts as giving back to society. I felt useful to society when I helped a team to draft a presidential pardon for some convicts and also when I helped in drafting letters to a Ghanaian Embassy for finding a stranded Ghanaian in Iraq. To me this was a great opportunity and I couldn’t have had this opportunity without being an intern.

 

The Dos and Don’ts as an  intern

There are Dos and Don’ts in everything we do. Below are a list of what I personally think an intern should do and not do.

1.Be mindful of  your appearance . Do not have an improper  haircut or hairstyle  which portrays you as an unserious person.  Remember that you  are creating an impression out there and positioning yourselves for great future opportunities.

2.Learn to respect everyone including cleaners and caterers and fellow interns or volunteers.

3.Always be ready to learn. Ask questions about the job if you have no experience.

4.Build a friendly relationship with as many people as you can. That way they will freely teach you what you do not know or need to know about the job.

5.Do not lazy about or go off track even when it seems like everyone else is doing it. Meet deadliness and exhibit the values or skills you stated on your CV.

6.Be ready to accept corrections and rebukes in a calm way.

In conclusion, internships go a long way to shape your future and position you at an advantage point in your career. Your gateway to having the diverse experiences you need for your career is by way of interning. As law students it is important that you incline Yourself to law related matters. However, being a good lawyer goes beyond studying law. It includes having experiences in other fields of study.We are called learned because we are deemed to have knowledge in diverse areas of life as well as fields of study. This accolade should not  be a facade or feeding on past glories. The  Bible says “feed on the word to show thyself approved”. Look at other areas as well. This may begin with your hobbies and what interests you. It may be sports, ushering, creative arts, cooking, et cetera. Do not focus your internship search on law firms alone. You can look at banks, restaurants, shops, schools, construction companies and many others.  When given an opportunity to intern, take charge of it. End your internship feeling fulfilled and accomplished.

“Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success.” -Swami Sivananda