By Stevie Matheny ‘22
My Jobs Up Until This Point
Steam the milk.
Cue the shots.
Pump the syrup.
Catch the shots.
Pour the milk.
Serve the coffee.
This has been my work experience for the past three years, and, honestly, I’ve LOVED it. It’s clear-cut, it’s relational, and it’s a service to others. But at the end of the day, my desire isn’t to be a Starbucks barista for the rest of my life.
I want to run full throttle towards justice.
I want to live on mission.
I want to help others—and I want to do this within the legal sphere.
However, internships are a necessary piece of the puzzle in making this happen, but, up until now, I hadn’t had one.
I didn’t feel qualified, and I wasn’t hearing the most alluring descriptors from other interns who I know. “Overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated” were the words I heard to describe their experiences. Not knowing what to do with that, I held off on applying.
Then, in February of this past semester, I heard about a girl named Emily who was interning for a law firm in the Village (Claremont’s downtown area), and, to the best of my understanding, she really enjoyed it. She’s a friend of a friend, so, although I didn’t know much about her job beyond those two initial facts, that was enough to make me curious.
After about a month of back and forth scheduling, I sat with Emily and asked her anything and everything about her job. All it cost me was a cup of coffee. That turned out to be the best cup of coffee I’ve ever purchased. After hearing her speak so highly of her employer and the work that she got to be a part of, I applied to intern at the same firm for the coming fall semester. (Emily was graduating in the spring, so it seemed to me like they would need a new intern. I was not wrong).
Accepted to intern in the upcoming fall semester, I was even more excited to be offered a position over this summer.
A Month into the Internship
After about a month of working for the firm, I want to share what it’s been like, in an attempt to offer some hope and perspective for anyone debating an internship (and it won’t even cost you the coffee).
I work for the Law Offices of Scott Glovsky, primarily dealing with bad faith cases against insurance companies. The firm is located two streets away from campus, right by Pepo Melo, (a health foods spot in the Village). I work remotely, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Noon is my favorite time of the day, because this is when we have our all-staff meeting.
Essentially, we hop on a Zoom call and share what we intend to get done throughout the rest of the day. We also recap the previous day and just joke around with one another. These daily meetings were a pivotal piece of my workday when I first started at the firm, where I really got to know the people I am working alongside. As I hear about their spouses, their kids, and their weekend plans, my colleagues become much more normalized to me. I feel comfortable asking them questions when I need guidance because I’m in daily dialogue with them.
They are just normal people, living normal lives, who had to learn how to be good at their jobs. No one just wakes up good at their job. There is a learning curve, and the peak is crossed much faster when there is a team building you up.
This is what I’ve experienced at the firm: a unanimous desire to build one another up.
My expectations were not horribly low for what my internship would be like. However, over the course of this past month, my expectations have been so far exceeded. I knew what Emily did for the firm, so I had a vague understanding of what I might get to do. But I had no idea that I would get to do it right off the bat. From day one, my boss gave me assignments that were an active part of our cases.
My first task was to build a chronology for a case the firm was working on. After receiving all of the documents related to the case (i.e. emails, phone transcripts, grievance letters, appeals, etc.), I put the documents in chronological order and emphasized what was important about them. Then, I pinpointed the violations represented within each interaction. (Insurance companies are supposed to abide by certain “rules of the road” to ensure they are acting in good faith, and when they fail to do so, this is a violation). The chronologies that I put together are what the attorneys then use to build their depositions.
My next task was to research a defendant in one of our cases, and it was the coolest process. When people say that it’s important to be aware what you’re posting on social media, let me emphasize: it is true, trust me. I felt like a detective, and Instagram had become my new best friend.
Not only do I feel like my work is meaningful to the firm, but I feel trusted and validated. As of late, I’ve been making calls for an assignment that we’re working on. It takes a lot of trust to let your intern make calls on your behalf. I could’ve butchered these phone interviews, but my boss trusted me enough to make them—which then helped me to trust myself.
Honestly, interning for the firm has been an all-around validating experience.
It’s validated my desire to go into law.
It’s validated my sense of self and has helped me to really understand my capabilities.
It’s validated the importance of relationships.
It’s validated the importance of listening to people tell their stories. There have been so many phone interviews where I’m not capable of correcting the wrong that someone’s experienced. But I can listen to these people. I can make them feel acknowledged.
Interning this summer has validated my understanding of what a boss should be like—especially at a law firm. Whenever I tell someone that I want to go into law, the next sentence is almost always about how much money I’m going to make. But my goal is not about the money. It’s about how many people I can help, how many people I can care for. This concern for others is exactly what I’ve seen from my boss. He repeatedly emphasizes the value of people over profit. There is so much heart that goes into each of the cases that he accepts for the firm. There is so much heart that goes into deciding who gets to be a part of the firm. One of our attorneys is leaving at the end of the summer, and it has been one of the best experiences to watch how diligently my boss has sought out a replacement. There is so much heart that goes into maintaining the team’s morale. There have been numerous occasions where I’ve gotten to have one-on-one calls with my boss where he is just checking in. And I don’t mean checking in on how much work I’ve gotten done. He’s checking in to see if I’m enjoying the assignments that he’s giving to me. He’s checking in to see if I feel comfortable with my workload. He’s checking in to see if I feel like I have all of the materials that I need in order to be successful. Every Monday, he checks in to see what our weekends looked like and celebrates the best parts with us.
I was always nervous to begin an internship because I didn’t want to get lost in the background and spend the whole time clueless. This has not been my experience in the least bit. I feel like I’ve gotten to be at the forefront of everything going on. This has allowed me to learn and to grow exponentially faster than I had ever anticipated.
My Advice to You
If I could give you any advice, I would say: do it. Reach out to the random girl and ask her about her job. Reach out to the firm you want to work for and email them until you’ve made yourself unforgettable. Reach out when you’re building your chronology and have no idea what an intake is. Reach out when you have questions.
But more importantly, allow yourself to be reached. Engage in your workplace beyond your workload. Share in life with the people in front of you. Invest in them. Open yourself up to allow them to invest in you. Let this experience grow you in more than just knowledge.
Working for this firm was not what I originally planned for myself this summer, but I think it is one of the very best decisions I could’ve made. If you would’ve asked me a month ago to do what I’m doing right now, I would’ve felt unqualified. All it took was me saying yes to doing it, to realize that I could.
Not every internship is going to play out the way this one did, but this internship taught me how to show up. It reinforced what my role should look like in the professional world—beyond my job description. It validated what I can do and why I should be doing it. These two truths remain, regardless of context. Whether my boss, my colleagues or the tone of work had been different, these two facts would stay the same.
This is what I’ve learned so far from my first internship (and it’s only month one of six)! This is what I want you to be able to take into your first internship, or your fiftieth internship. No matter where you’re at, I think these are some good thoughts to hold onto.