Virtual internship experience
It was unfortunate that the internship could not take place in the usual format this year, but the firm managed to provide an insightful, challenging, and fun experience in spite of this. I still had the opportunity to network with both my peers and various people from within the firm. I was able to get a good feel for the firm through the excellent talks arranged throughout the week. I enjoyed the activities, particularly the group pitch presentation.
Where we had calls with all of the interns present (99), it was understandably difficult for members of the firm to communicate directly with everyone. However, we all had the opportunity to introduce ourselves and to ask the speakers questions. Separate calls were arranged for the individual offices we had applied to. The smaller numbers of participants on these calls allowed for a better opportunity to engage directly with partners. I felt particularly valued during my participation in the activities, where those assessing us discussed the activity with us and provided positive and helpful feedback.
Graduate recruitment was in contact daily by email as well as on Zoom to help guide us through the process. They were very supportive and motivating and made us feel at ease, especially given the unusual circumstances. We also had plenty of opportunities to approach trainees for discussion and advice. I feel that I really benefitted from being assigned a trainee buddy, who was in contact with me on a regular basis before, during and after the internship. She answered all the questions I had and told me lots about her experience at the firm so far.
During the week, we did a group exercise, which involved reading through documents and discussing legal and commercial issues. This was followed by a presentation to a fictional client. We were also required to work in a team to prepare and deliver a pitch presentation to partners in the firm. By participating in these activities, I feel that I have developed better presentation skills, better communication and teamwork skills, and have improved my ability to pick out the key points from a large amount of information. I also feel that my commercial awareness has improved. Through the talks given by various members of the firm, I got to know a lot more not just about the firm itself but also about the industry it operates in. I believe that the skills and knowledge I gained from the experience will help me going forward in my career.
On the whole, it was well organized and structured. Each Zoom session was given an allocated time and we knew what to expect every day. We generally had calls in the morning, and the afternoon was spent working on the pitch presentation for the end of the week. While we were not on calls all day, I felt sometimes that they could have been more spaced out. On occasion, we had several lengthy calls back to back, which could be quite tiring and straining on the eyes. However, overall it was well organized, and considering the amount that they were able to pack into the week, things ran very smoothly.
Again, this was difficult due to the experience being virtual. Graduate recruitment did their very best to make it as interactive as possible and to help us to get to know one another. All the people delivering talks were inspiring, informative and friendly. The calls were mainly focused on the talks and group activities, but I still managed to get a good impression from those representing the firm and the few I interacted directly with. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I bonded with my presentation team despite our not meeting in person.
The talks we had were very informative and I felt that my understanding of the role and the industry has improved significantly. This was also aided by the tasks we participated in; as I mentioned previously, I felt that I came away with enhanced skills and knowledge. However, due to not having had the opportunity to work in the office and have more of a hands-on experience, I probably have not received as much personal training and development as I would have done had the internship gone ahead in its usual format. Nonetheless, I believe that the firm tried to provide the opportunity for this as much as was possible in the circumstances.
Despite not being in the office, where my experience would have been much closer to that of a trainee's, I felt that I was able to learn a lot about the firm and the work it does from the talks we heard and the discussions we had with office partners. We had various talks about the firm's structure, vision, future plans, work, culture, D&I initiatives, pro bono activities and much more. We also had sessions with trainees, who answered our questions honestly about what it is like to work at the firm.
Although being in the office would have given me a greater understanding of the firm's culture and a better feel for the atmosphere, the sessions we had throughout the week demonstrated how the firm lives its values. All of the speakers and those I engaged with directly were welcoming, down to earth and friendly, and I experienced through them how the firm's values of being supportive and collaborative are very much a part of the firm's culture.
Even though I was not able to carry out actual trainee tasks and sit in different practice groups, the talks and activities that were organized still gave me a flavour of what it is like to work in a global commercial law firm, as they were based on the type of work that the firm does for clients. The internship was a very positive experience and confirmed for me that this is the path I wish to pursue.
We were awarded one week's pay, which I think was fair, especially given that we did not actually do any in-office work. I did not have any expenses that needed to be reimbursed, but I know that the firm did offer to reimburse expenses should anyone have had any prior to the internship going virtual. The firm also provided JustEat vouchers of generous amounts, in recognition of the fact that had the internship gone ahead as normal, we would have been given a food allowance.
As mentioned previously, we had the opportunity to ask the speakers questions. In our office-specific sessions, we interacted with partners, legal directors and associates. On the first evening, some of the trainees did a quiz with all of the interns. The trainees from my office also arranged a separate call with us. Aside from that, we talked more with partners during our group pitch presentation, albeit about the presentation. We also had a final interview with a partner from the office we had applied to.
All of the speakers had lots of time for us and tried to answer as many questions as possible. In one of the office-specific sessions, the firm members introduced themselves and told us more about the office. We were also given the opportunity to introduce ourselves in this session. The trainee quiz was well put together and fun. It was thoughtful of the trainees from our office to set up a separate call, recognizing that we would have had much more interaction had we been in the office. It was nice to have a final interview with a partner so that we could have the opportunity to get to know each other a bit more on a one-to-one basis.
I learned through the talks and through asking questions about various exciting opportunities employees can get involved with. We had a talk on the various pro bono activities the firm participates in, which motivated and inspired me to get involved. It was also explained how we can get involved in various employee networks and their events. I found out that the firm hosts a lot of events, and that the offices have various social clubs to get involved with such as choirs and sports teams.
Of course it would have been nice to have participated in the usual 3- week in-office experience, but should the firm need to hold the internship in the same format next year, I would definitely recommend it to a friend. As I have said, the whole week was very well organized, informative, challenging, and fun. It is a great opportunity to learn more about the firm, the industry and the work they do, and I have come away with greater skills and knowledge.
4th July 2020
Less than £ 10,000