Email: I love the new challenge of learning a new field but am getting nervous. I’ve reached out to several labor and employment law firms in town, thinking they would jump at the chance to have some free help, but I’ve not heard back from anyone. 

Do you have any suggestions to help push this process along or any alternative ideas so that I can stay in the labor and employment law or workers’ compensation specialty areas?  My program requires an internship so that I can get my certificate at the end of this term. I’m really scared I won’t locate an internship in time. I’m also really nervous about reaching out to people. ~ Florida Paralegal Student 

Practical Paralegalism’s response:

You may have already considered any suggestions I might have, but I’ll jump right in anyway. In regard to your internship, I would try not to limit myself to very narrow areas of specialization right now. Personal injury and medical malpractice utilize many of the same skills used in workers’ compensation cases, and civil litigation is useful anywhere that lawsuits are filed, including in employment and labor law cases. At this point, just getting inside a law firm or legal department is a step in the right direction, because there is so much to learn from an entry-level perspective – and you need that internship to complete your program.

Are any of your instructors connected to area employers? They might be able to give you some leads. Does your program have a list of employers, private and government, who offer internships to students? (This is a great project for a paralegal club to work on.) If you’ve connected with members of area paralegal and legal support staff associations, I’d reach out to them as well. You might also check with your local legal aid society.

I’d definitely broaden the scope of employers you’re contacting. If you haven’t already done so, you should ask for some feedback on your resume and cover letter, just to make sure they’re perfect – and stand out in a big pile of applications. I don’t know what the job market is like in your area of the country, but there are a lot of people looking for work. We get unsolicited resumes all the time, as well as requests from local paralegal programs to provide internships. A strong recommendation from an instructor is very helpful to employers who are open to taking on interns.

I hope you’ll stay in touch, and I wish you the best of success in your internship and your search for that first legal job.

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