The2Llife: Reflecting on 1L Summer

GUEST BLOG by Dani Gies,
Attorney Advisor at Los Angeles Immigration Court
(written as a Rising 2L entering the start of the fall semester, exclusively for BARBRI)

It’s time to take stock of what happened during the summer.

I worked for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (a component of the Department of Justice) in Immigration Court. The Court was attached to a detention facility, so all of the respondents in court were detained. I served as sort of the clerk to the clerk, since there was only one law clerk for the four Immigration Judges. Since there were only two of us, I got tremendous legal research and writing experience, and also learned substantive criminal immigration law along the way. I also made really meaningful personal connections. All in all, I had the best 1L summer job experience I could have hoped for.

Did you have a great summer, too? Tips to keep floating on Cloud Nine:

  • Thank your supervisor and those who made your experience possible. An email is nice for a coworker with whom you worked a couple of times, but I recommend a handwritten card for your supervisor. After all, taking on an intern is a lot of extra work for an organization and for the person supervising you. Furthermore, let them know that you really enjoyed yourself.
  • Keep in touch and follow up. If someone in the office offered their help to you in the form of a letter of recommendation, reference or just making a connection, be sure to follow up. While you are back in school living the good life, they’re still on the work grind and may already have another intern. Send an email to confirm their willingness to be a reference or remind them of the connection you were hoping to make.
  • Be introspective. Did you expect to like your work? If so, was it the content of the work or the type of work? Did you enjoy an aspect of the work you didn’t expect? How does this inform the types of work opportunities you will look for in the future?

Was your summer not as great as you had hoped? Consider this:

  • Thank your supervisor and those who made your experience possible. An email is nice for a coworker with whom you worked a couple of times, but I recommend a handwritten card for your supervisor. Even if it was not the best experience for you, taking on an intern is a lot of extra work for an organization and for the person supervising you. Furthermore, just because you left with a bad taste in your mouth does not mean you should leave the organization with one in theirs.
  • Keep in touch and follow up. If someone in the office offered their help to you in the form of a letter of recommendation, reference or just making a connection, be sure to follow up. Although the organization you worked for may not be the best fit, if you are candid with someone there, they may be able to refer you for a job better suited to you. Send an email to remind them of the connection you were hoping to make.
  • Be introspective. Did you expect to like your work? If so, what made you dislike your experience? Was it the content of the work, the type of work, the environment, the people? Did you enjoy any aspects of the work? How does this inform the types of work opportunities you will look for in the future?

If you didn’t cheat and read both sections, you’ll notice I gave the same advice, although worded slightly differently. This is because I firmly believe that it is just as important to learn what you don’t like as to learn what you do like.

You’re not married to your 1L summer job or your 2L summer job or the first job you get after graduating. Thus, every experience gives you more information about what work makes you happy and what gets you down in the dumps, leading you ever closer to the job that is right for you. I hope you’re able to view your summer experience in this light.