Monday, August 02, 2004

For what it's worth...10 questions I should have asked.

I said I would do it this weekend, but I was BUSY, so without further ado, and frankly, probably without the level of thought that should have gone into's the Top 10 Questions I SHOULD have asked while interviewing, but before accepting, a summer position.

1. Who will my supervisor be?

2. Will I have a set job that I do every day or will I be working in different divisions (see #1), who will I report to if I move around?

3. How long have you had a summer program? Is it a formalized program? Do the interns have a place to sit, computers, necessary books and reference materials?

4. What activities are available to the interns to help them learn more about the area of law they are interested in (ie: mentoring opportunities, visits to other agencies, networking lunches and dinners, attendance at events outside the agency...etc).

5. How many interns will you be hiring? How many total people are in the division/office/section that the interns will work in?

6. How much of my job can I expect to be involved with substantive legal work and how much will I be doing smaller, possibly non-legal projects for either attorneys or other supervisors/managers within the division?

7. How much feedback can I expect on my writing assignments? Will I be able to craft a memo or other research assignment that I can use as a writing sample?

8. What process to do you use to handle intern assignments? Do the interns pick their own assignments from a centralized book or are they handed out by a supervisor of some sort that keeps track of what everyone is doing? Do all the attorneys in the office have "free-reign" to just hand out assignments at will, or must they go through one of the two processes described above?

9. What do most of the attorneys in XX division do every day? What kind of law do they practice primarily?

10. What are the agency's goals and vision for the internship program? What would you (the interviewer) like to see me (as an intern) accomplish? If they then say "We would like to train you for this, or certify you for that," find out HOW they will accomplish that goal. Is there a training program? What if you get there at a different time than everyone else, will it be repeated and/or held until you can attend?

Now, take this all with a grain of salt. I work in one division of a HUGE government agency, and so this is what I would have asked during my interview (or at least some of what I would have asked) if I had known then what I know now about THIS agency (and I would hazard a guess that many government agencies/departments are at least similar). The biggest issues I have had this summer are related to the fact that I am involved in a relatively new internship program, so there's not a lot of formalized or standardized procedures, and there are A LOT of it can be a little disorganized at times.

Anyway, take it for what it's's my first shot at trying to give any sort of helpful hints. I never try to do 1L advice as I'm not sure that "drink heavily, watch a lot of Law and Order, blog during class" is really a great system for most folks. But, you do what works for you!
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