Originally published by Melody McDonald Lanier.
Breaking into the workforce straight from college is almost impossible, which is why internships are so valuable. Fortunately, I was able to land an internship this summer at the Fort Worth law firm of Varghese Summersett. Granted, my dad is an attorney there, but hopefully being the top of my high school senior class qualified me to handle the mostly clerical and research-related tasks I was given daily. Either way, I learned a lot this summer during my internship, which I hope to apply to future endeavors. Here’s some of my takeaways from working at a fast-paced law firm this summer.
1. Be Organized
This is key to getting stuff done in a timely manner. If you are not organized, and cannot find relevant documents or information, how can you expect your supervisors to use it?
2. Dress the Part
I interned at a law firm where you must dress professionally. In high school, no one really cares what you wear except for the teachers, who want it to be modest. In the workforce, it is always better to dress for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have.
3. Don’t Rush
Take your time so you will do it correctly the first time. No matter who your supervisor is, I promise they would rather you do it right and take longer, than do it fast and have it wrong.
4. Figure it Out.
Whatever you do, do not go running to someone else to fix your mistakes before you try and fix them yourself. If you broke it, fix it. If you try to fix it and can’t, that’s when you ask for help. This summer, I broke a shredder. I had to ask for help on that one. Good times.
5. Be Yourself.
Do not try to impress people by fitting into the mold of your other workers. Internships are meant to show the employer your skills, work ethic and individuality. That way, they can determine if you’re a good fit with the company.
6. Make Friends.
Even if you’re much younger, or you do not have as much work experience or you feel like your coworkers are smarter than you, try not to be intimidated. Knock down your walls and be open because it is more fun to go to work knowing you have friends, than to sit there and do your work and leave.
7. No matter the task, it is important.
Whether you are shredding, filing, or getting coffee, your work is appreciated. Even if you do not see the significance of what you are doing, other people do.
8. Be Humble.
Some of the Associates I worked with started off as interns themselves. Working hard and remaining humble is a sure way to impress your bosses. Seeking the spotlight, on the other hand, can be counterproductive.
9. Treat Everyone with Respect.
It does not matter who you are talking to, you should always respect everyone. People will remember how you treat them – from the bailiffs, to court clerks, court reporters, and clients – and you are always representing the firm.
10. Be Punctual
If you are asked to be somewhere at a specific time, you should not only be there on time but a bit early.
11. Stay on Top of Things
Stay on top of due dates because waiting until the last minute not only puts stress on you, but it also stresses out your coworkers.
12. Learn from Your Mistakes
This is one of the most cliché statements in the world to me, but my summer internship has made me understand how true this lesson is. Mistakes – we all make them. If you do not learn from your mistakes, then you are doomed to keep repeating them. It’s probably a good idea to learn from mistakes other people make too.
Lauren Jumes is a senior at Boswell High School in Saginaw, Texas. She is planning on attending A&M University next fall and is toying with the idea of becoming a lawyer one day. Judging by the work she’s done for us, we have no doubt she is going to be a success at anything she puts her mind to.
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