“Learn how to be happy with what you have while you pursue all that you want.” – Jim Rohn
The Global Pandemic of 2020 can be termed as the epitome of a bizarre turn of events that no one ever predicted. Numerous tragedies took place at different levels and people went through unforeseen changes. One of those changes is the transition from offline to online mode of schools and universities, work, internships, business, and everything that could be possibly be switched. This produced varied responses and opinions. But mostly, people realized that the virtual world is not exactly how they expected it to be. A lot of unique and unconventional challenges popped up, leaving behind confusion and frustrations. And these sentiments are true for most people, including law students. This article is targeted towards the hardships law students face in virtual internships and will attempt to provide a few clarifications to aid them in the process.
- The recurrent ones
But before going straight to interns, there are a few challenges that are common to everyone. The first and foremost being internet connectivity issues. Something that is very prevalent but at the same time not given enough importance. Then comes the issue of getting everyone into the same platform at the same time. Most people have started showing laziness and unprofessionalism, which both in a team and on an individual level hampers the work and spirit. An excess amount of screen-timing also adds to stress and anxiety. This shows how the online transition was not and should not be expected to be smooth.
- Intern difficulties
Now, coming to law interns, feelings of seclusion have increased due to the connection gap between these interns and mentors. As one cannot just go into the other office to clear out their doubts, the hesitancy to contact the mentors have proved to be burdensome. As a result, they are not getting their work reviewed properly, and consequently questioning the learning aspect of the internship.
Also, the whole process seems mystified to a great extent, and are unable to observe the whole procedure step-by-step. It becomes hard to decipher the nature and personality of the mentor. Due to the lack of proper teamwork, interns miss out on gaining essential skills of communication and leadership. And due to this lack of direct interaction, Interns care not to be able to network. Most are not even aware of who they are working alongside. Therefore, not being able to build on valuable connections is a major downside of this setting.
- Recruiter difficulties
At this point, if we consider the other side of the spectrum, the recruiters and mentors can be seen struggling with their own set of worries and complications. Because of not being able to train the interns properly, they are getting overburdened with work. It is getting impossible for them to make enough time to cater to the interns individually and correct them on their mistakes. Therefore, the interns are left feeling puzzled whereas the mentors are not receiving good works of standard quality. This situation is churning out the bitterness in both the groups.
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- Communication is the key
After looking at all the issues that are arising in this virtual scenario, the root of all evils is found to be a lack of crucial communication among the members working with and for each other. One of the most basic, affordable, but the paramount thing to do right now is to schedule timely meets. If proper doubt-clearing and interactive sessions are arranged, then half of the problems can get solved. In these meets, everyone should take initiative and reach out to others. Making that extra effort to be helpful, cooperative, and respectful can prove to be the small flakes of compassion with the potential to make difference.
- The remedy called patience
Interns should learn to be patient with others and themselves. We need to realize that all of us, are new to this current scheme of arrangements, and are coping with it to try and deliver our best. We are all learning, failing, and again starting out from the beginning. So, at this stage, expecting perfection from others will not be the wisest way of going about the tasks. Instead, being a little empathetic and understanding with each other can help in the long run.
- Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable
Another crucial notion we all need to carry with us is that whether we are in our home, cozily laying down on the sofa, or in our office, sitting on one of those uncomfortable steel seats, the work we are doing is the same. So, it will be better to start treating work as work and not get too comfortable with it. While staying at home, the urge to get into the bed and curl up into that exceptionally soft blanket feels irresistible. This results in laziness, unprofessionalism, lack of focus and attention, and ultimately poor performance in our much-valued internship.
There are a couple of tasks we can take on in order to resist this temptation. We can start by creating the ideal ambience in that part of our house where we have decided to work. Before starting with the day, we should make sure that we have eaten, showered, and gotten dressed to be perfectly ready and prepared for the day ahead. Also, make sure to have a proper desk, some snacks maybe, and a little bit of greenery nearby. At the end of the day, the place should trigger our professional side rather than the inactive and slothful side.
- Taking the initiative
We should not hesitate to reach out with our problems, if we face any, rather than expecting our mentors to come and check upon us. We need to remember that not everyone will be considerate and make time for us, so it will be a preferable and time-efficient choice to do it ourselves. Taking feedback is also key for keeping track of our personal development, so we should request one if not voluntarily offered. Also, it is crucial to confirm that the work we are doing is not unnecessary and unrelated to our field. There are instances when impressionable interns get exploited and are given irrelevant tasks. We should quit immediately if that is the case. (Read: Qualities of a Good Researcher)
- The unmatchable combo of self-awareness and discipline
Scheduling our whole day and putting reminders for meetings is unquestionable at this point. Our routines have become so complicated and scattered, it can easily be the ultimate formula for keeping the anxiety levels higher round the clock and touching the ceiling. It can be helpful to take up and finish one task at a time, keep a note of the deadlines, separate work-time and family-time as much as possible, and evaluate ourselves at the end to understand our own limits. Taking up too much work and then drowning in the midst of it all is not something pleasant and should be avoided at all costs.
- Freeing our innovative self
Even while facing all these issues, we should not suppress the creative and curious side of ourselves. Whenever an opportunity is thrown our way, we must try our best to grab it. Questioning, learning, and presenting new ideas are essential parts of the process. We should realize and accept our mistakes or slip-ups and learn from them. We have to be aware of the whole point of an internship in the first place, and make sure that the objective is being fulfilled. So be optimistic, participate with zeal, and add to your amazing self steadily.
About the Author: Madhuja Chatterjee, a 1st year Student from the School of Law, CHRIST (Deemed to be University), Bangalore. She has always been young at heart, curious and eager to explore the fascinating subject of Content Writing.