April is coming to a close and May is approaching, which means law students are preparing for exams and excited for the summer. One of the most common questions I receive during this time comes from law students and legal employers working with summer interns or summer associates:
How do we make the most out of the summer?
Employers want to make sure that the law student is receiving adequate support and training. They want to make sure that they are giving appropriate assignments so that they could properly evaluate the candidacy of the law student. Law students simply want to learn how their summer position can help them land their dream job.
Here are a few tips to help both parties maximize their time together over the summer:
Think about fit.
Although determining whether there is a perfect fit in a certain department or practice group might not be possible—yet—the summer is a great time to think about where a candidate’s skills fit. What strengths should be developed? Which practice area is set to grow, and can use additional contributions? What sub-specialties are possible that are not necessarily obvious?
On the opposite side of this coin—are there any clear eliminations? Although it is important to keep an open mind and test out different assignments in various specialties, it is also important to know when something or someone definitely is not a fit.
Ask good questions.
The law student and legal employer are both learning from the experience. The summer is an opportunity for both parties to learn, grow, and observe. For law students, it is important to ask the right questions so that you know what is expected of you to make the best of use of your down time to get to know other members of the team. For employers, it is important for you to evaluate how you delegate work and support your team members—particularly now that you have someone for the summer with an outside perspective. Were there any weaknesses or inefficiencies with your processes, resources, or procedures?
Resist the temptation to stick to your circles and introduce yourselves to each other. Students should introduce themselves to members of the team; the employer should encourage its team members (and lead by example) to meet their summers.
Remember not to get too wild with the drinks—you want to impress each other.
Picture your futures together.
For law students, can you see yourself as one of the associates or attorneys and being happy? Does your personality gel well with the group? Does it fit with your lifestyle? Are people happy?
For employers, can you see yourself relying on the student in five years? If you had to pick up a work related phone call or stay in the office late, would you appreciate the student’s contributions?