SRVH College Intern Tales: The Power of Taking Initiative
Authored by Sherrard Roe Voigt & Harbison summer college intern Rachel Chen.
It took me a year and a half of college to realize that I wanted to go to law school, so needless to say, I was a little behind my peers. As someone who always had a plan for the future, the nascent uncertainty of how to navigate the path to becoming an attorney was daunting. There was internal pressure but also pressure from others to succeed at this newfound idea, and I was determined to prove myself.
Eventually, I realized I needed to take more initiative by calling firms instead of emailing them. I called SRVH and was initially declined because there just wasn’t a need. However, a few days passed, and I got an email from Donna, SRVH’s office administrator, explaining that she had a conversation with an attorney who needed help with a large scanning project. I was elated to finally have an offer, and a month or two later, I was sitting at my desk on the first day of my internship.
Honestly, I was unsure what to expect when I first came to SRVH, but I am sure it has exceeded any and all of my expectations. SRVH is a welcoming and nurturing environment that truly encourages and appreciates mentorship and growth. At the beginning of my journey, when I first shared that I was contemplating law school, I received an abundance of pessimistic feedback. I have always been an introvert, and though that doesn’t mean I don’t like interacting and getting to know others, it does mean I require time to myself to rejoice in solitude. A legal career is often depicted as fast-paced and highly social, so though I was not particularly pleased, I understood why others reacted the way they did. Interning at SRVH has been a relief and a nod of assurance as I have been appreciated and encouraged despite my introversion.
There is one occasion, in particular, I will never forget. In the week following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I was battling lots of emotions. I wanted so badly to tell someone about these feelings and for them to offer their opinion from both a legal and personal perspective, but I was also afraid of their reaction to me bringing up such a sensitive topic. Despite my fears, while at lunch with Alice, an associate at the firm, I asked about her thoughts on the issue. Alice has always been such a kind and supporting individual–offering me small projects and bringing me along to court. I felt comfortable enough to ask her about Roe v. Wade, a topic I rarely even brought up with my parents. She offered me her thoughts, and we chatted more about the legal implications behind the decision. That conversation demonstrated that the people at SRVH care about the critical issues in the world and how those issues affect others.
On a professional note, I’m grateful I was continually trusted to work on projects and tasks that required attention to detail. It is so easy for professionals to see interns as careless and fatuous, but that wasn’t the case at SRVH. Associates and partners alike trusted me to handle their original files, proofread court documents, and edit contracts. Of course, I didn’t always complete the project perfectly, and more often than not, I had to ask clarifying questions and send in multiple rough drafts. Doubtless, the attorneys could have asked someone more experienced than me who would have completed the task more efficiently. However, they knew the project would be an opportunity for me to learn, so they gave it to me anyway. This trust and willingness to be patient are qualities I believe are rare.
Of course, as a rising undergraduate junior, I still have a bit of a way to go until I am working in a law firm either as a summer associate or associate, but this summer at SRVH has helped me realize the kind of environment I want to spend the rest of my career in.