Planning Ahead: Summer Internships

Now that the semester is on its way (and hopefully running smoothly), it’s time to think about different ways to bolster your forthcoming law school applications. Internships are a great way to gain experience and exposure to the legal world outside the classroom. Getting experience is important for a number of reasons: demonstrating work and interest to law schools, building connections with mentors (hint: letters of recommendation), and confirming your interest in pursuing a legal career, to name a few. Towards the end of this semester, Pre-Law Advising will provide more information and opportunities regarding summer internships, so keep an eye out!

Timeline

  • Stay Organized. Hiring for summer internships typically happens in the spring; however, the key to landing a summer internship is to do your research, find opportunities, and stay organized when applying and reaching out. Plan early by compiling a list of places you could potentially apply to and get some organizations on your radar!
  • Winter Break. After taking a much needed break after finals, winter break is the perfect time to start researching various internships and potentially even reaching out to some organizations to learn more about a summer opportunity.
  • Deadlines. ALWAYS keep an eye out for deadlines. Though we advise you to apply no earlier than the spring semester, some organizations might be looking to fill out their spots as early as right now. Some organizations may even have a rolling deadline, meaning the positions stay open until they are filled. Stay organized, be cognizant of any deadlines, and work according to the specific organization’s timeline.

Legal Opportunities

  • Be strategic. When approaching different organizations for an internship, you’ll want to consider which types of organizations will welcome undergraduate interns. Unfortunately, many legal employers look to law students as interns who have obtained a basic understanding of legal researching and legal writing. However, that does not mean there are not organizations who readily welcome undergraduate interns.
    • Target organizations that would need the help. Reach out to public interest organizations, legal aid clinics, non-profit organizations, or smaller firms. Although the internships are typically unpaid, you will be receiving first-hand knowledge and early exposure to a legal setting. The skills and connections interns get are priceless!

Legal-Adjacent Opportunities

  • Think creatively. If you can’t find something “legal,” try finding an internship that will still provide you with the transferable skills law schools look for in successful applicants! When considering different opportunities ask yourself: will this internship allow me to develop my critical thinking skills? Researching skills? Writing skills? Analytical skills? Collaborating?
  • Interested in politics? Consider an internship on the Hill! Or a position in your congressperson or Senator’s office. There are opportunities in your hometown, surrounding area, and even Washington, D.C. if that is of interest. There are campaigns popping up all over that might be of interest as well!
  • Government. You may find various opportunities in local, state, or the federal government! Think Department of Justice, State Attorney Generals Offices, and more. Though some of these may be restricted to law students, or might not provide an opportunity in a legal role, they are still of interest and provide plenty of transferable and relatable skills.
  • Credit-Earning. What does your academic program offer in terms of internships? Can you earn academic credit? These internships are a great opportunity to further explore your undergraduate major and career opportunities—while also potentially identifying ways to merge your interest in law and your undergraduate field.

Tips

  • Think virtual. Unfortunately, we are in “unprecedented times,” however, that shouldn’t discourage you from internships. Many internships across the country have moved virtual! Internships that would be difficult because of relocation are now accessible from a home office. Use this time to expand your horizon, apply for positions in locations that seemed unfeasible, and think bigger than before!
  • Pick up the phone. If you don’t find any internship opportunities on an organization’s website—call them! You would be surprised how far a simple phone call can take you. Calling to inquire about an internship can provide very helpful information on an opportunity that might not be broadcasted on their website, or even allow you to connect with an organization who wasn’t thinking about an intern but is intrigued to help. You could be surprised…
  • Email. Nevertheless, always reach out to various organizations or individuals to inquire about potential internships for undergraduate, pre-law students if you can’t find any information. Any information you can get is helpful.
  • Think Creatively & Network. Cast a wide net with your network to see if anybody can help or has any ideas on potential internships. Look at legal organizations to see if they offer internship opportunities for undergraduate students—for instance, the ABA Practice groups regularly offer opportunities for undergraduate students!
  • Resume. Continue updating, editing, and finalizing your resume during the Fall semester so that you are ready to apply when the time comes. Get it done sooner rather than later!

Stay tuned! Keep an eye out later this semester for more information about internships and potential opportunities. In the meantime, happy searching!


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