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Internships & Professional Development

Pre-Law students have TWO jobs at Hunter. The first is to be great in the classroom. The second is to be great outside of the classroom. You want to build your world view. You want to build your skills. You want to cultivate insight into the substantive areas you care about, and develop insight into the legal profession that will help you make informed choices as you approach law school. This approach will not only make you a better law school applicant, it will make you a more successful law student.

Focus on the experience and exposure outside the classroom that will best serve your particular needs and relate to your  interests. Look for the type of experience that "fits" your level of experience, and build from there.


Types of Exposure

There are a number of ways to start gaining exposure and building your experiences. You are not "building your resume." You are building you. Consider:

  • Student clubs: There are any variety of student clubs at the link. For skill building, you might want to especially consider organizations that emphasize public speaking such as Moot Court, Mock Trial, and Model U.N. (There is also a formal Moot Court 1 credit class that runs in January.) Student government and journalism also build skills.
  • Volunteer work: Volunteer work can be a good starting point for students who lack professional experience. It is also a good option for students who have many demands on their time and are seeking a limited commitment through which they can build their skills and knowledge.
  • Paid work
    • If you already work, and need to work to pay for school, is there an alternative context that might give you more exposure to the issues and areas you care about? If you are a receptionist at a doctor's office, have you thought about being a receptionist for a non-profit, govenrment agency, or law firm where the organization focuses on matters that are of interest to you? Law firm jobs are commonly posted on Indeed, for roles like legal assistant, paralegal, and business development.
    • New York has a one year intensive skill training program that is full time employment M-F. The program, Year Up New York, targets low-income adults ages 18-24. This opportunity is a good alternative for students who are carrying a full time  job and also attending school.
    • New York City Government has a category of PAID part time worker called "College Aide" in virtually every agency; aides are full time matriculatred students, work no more than 20 hours per week, and live in the 5 boroughs. Search the website for "College Aide" postings. In particular, you might want to look for "College Aide" positions and other PAID positions in:
      • Citywide Administrative Services (Procurement and contracts)
      • Health & Mental Hygiene (Environmental investigations)
      • New York City Law Department
      • New York State Attorney General Student Mediator (Consumer fraud - Not "College Aide" since NYS, but PAID)
      • Office of Administrative Trials & Hearings (OATH)
      • Public Administrator (In any of the 5 boroughs, administers estates of deceased persons)
      • America Needs You Fellow (Freshmen; not paid but $2000 over two years and mentor)
  • Internship opportunties
  • Project involvement in conferences and research: Have you spoken to professors? Have you attended conferences or talks where you might have the chance to create an opening to get involved? The National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions is associated with Hunter College and hosts a conference every year. They are eager to involve Hunter students as volunteers, interns, and research assistants.
  • Informational interviews: Brief conversations with recent alumni about their work and current path can be informative. Be sure to discuss with the Pre-Law Office who might be helpful to you. Also be sure to attend campus programming (which are networking opportunities in addition to informational opportuntiies).
  • After graduation: Big law firms recruit seniors for formal paralegal programs in the late fall, for start after graduation. These are very competitive programs. Check individual firm websites and speak with the Pre-Law Office. Smaller firms routinely hire as their needs develop, and those positions are posted on general recruiting sites like Indeed.

Be deliberate

The most important thing to consider, when you are thinking about how you spend your time when you are not studying or in the classroom, is, what you want to learn about. It might be about skills. It might be about a substantive interest. It might be about a profession. Think about what you want to know, and smart questions about the type of opportunities that will help you begin to construct answers. Do not "default" into positions - look for and make choices.

How do I start?

Students will often recognize that they are not sure what they are interested in. That's ok. You do not need to identify one thing that you will pursue forever and ever. Opportunities lead to natural forks in the road. What matters is for you to be active, and be thoughtful about what you have experienced. Come to the Pre-Law Office to discuss your ideas if you are not sure; sometimes a sounding board can be helpful.

As far as your goal to attend law school, in general, a wide variety of opportunties that relate to advocacy, policy, governance, or law are fine. But the way that your experiences hang together and their scope will be driven by you. Also, expertise in a particular substantive field, such as technology, math, sciences, accounting, public health, education or policy areas are also great for law school. The law schools are looking for you to have a great education both inside and outside the classroom. Usually the two will ultimately feed each other.

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