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Make the Most of Your Summer Internships – for your Future Career and the Rest of Law School

3L at Temple Law

When I started law school I felt confident that I knew what type of law I wanted to practice after graduation and the type of environment in which I wanted to practice it. The summer after my first year was a test run to see if my strongly held beliefs about my future legal career were correct. What I did not expect, was that at the end of that summer I not only felt more certain than ever about what I wanted to do, but completely reinvigorated to return to school and complete the two years that stood between me and a JD.

Since everyone emphasizes how important summer internships and other practical experience are to building your resume, developing skills and making connections, I went into the summer focusing on these goals. Between college and graduate school I had already had a half-dozen internships and assumed that I knew how to make the most out of a professional summer work experience. However, the draining challenges of law school were new to me. After nine straight months of nonstop studying, capped off with four finals and ten days of the journal write-on competition, I felt absolutely exhausted at the end of my 1L year.

While learning how to interview clients, honing my memo writing and connecting with lawyers whose careers I admired, the symptoms of my 1L burnout began to fade away. I started to realize that I was gaining much more than just career training and skill development, I was getting what I needed to successfully complete two more years of law school, while focusing on and working towards my career goals. The attorneys at the public interest legal service organization I worked at were more than happy to provide insight on where to apply for jobs for the following summer, what classes to take and perspective on the relative importance of grades. At the end of the summer I felt that I knew not only what I wanted to do professionally, but also the steps to take to make that goal a reality.

When looking for and selecting a summer internship for the summer after your first year consider not only what will help you get a job after graduation, but what type of work will help you make the most out of your remaining years in law school. If law school is a marathon (an analogy I can now confirm), summer internships are the water break stations filled with supporters cheering you on. They are not only necessary to successfully completing the marathon uninjured and being able to take on your next challenge, but they are also what help get you through the long and often difficult road on your way to the finish line – your JD.

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