Monday, 14 June 2021

“Be a sponge.” How I plan to make the most of my summer student experience

Starting a new job as a summer student was a bit intimidating for me. In unfamiliar situations, it is easier for me to stick with what I already know. However, if I want to make the most of my summer student experience, I know I have to step outside of my comfort zone and be open to new experiences.

During orientation week, one phrase the Director of Student Programs said that stuck was “be a sponge”. 

"As summer students, we will be hit with a lot of information
every day and it is our job to soak it up."

My goal is to absorb and learn as much as possible during this summer. The following is my plan on how to do this.

See every assignment as a new opportunity

My very first assignment involved drafting a defence for a Small Claims Court file that involved construction work. At first the task seemed very daunting because the documents I had to review were filled with construction lingo I had never heard before. However, I approached the assignment with an open mind and started working away. I probably had to Google every other word in the documents, but at the end of the day I not only learned how to draft a defence, but I also now know what an “overdig” is and what it’s for.

Ask if I can be part of the next step on a file

When I complete an assignment for a file or attend a field trip, I am going to ask the lawyer if I can be part of the next step on the file. For example, after attending an examination for discovery, I will ask if I can make an undertakings chart or do the discovery report. This will be a great way to stay involved in a file and build connections with different lawyers at the firm.

Ask for assignments in unfamiliar practice areas

I have never taken a class in employment law, so I asked to be kept in mind if anyone had an employment law file that they needed help with. I will continue to do this throughout the summer and sample all the different practice areas. This is a great way for me to learn which practice areas I may want to potentially specialize in later on in my career.

Reach out to all lawyers regardless of what location they are in

Although the firm has offices in Toronto, London, Barrie, Kitchener, and Ottawa, because all of our work is virtual, it is easier than ever to get assignments from lawyers at every office. Because of this, I could attend an examination for discovery in London, a mediation in Ottawa, and a pre-trial in Toronto all in one week! I am definitely using this to my advantage (COVID-19 silver lining!)

This is my time to be intellectually curious, ask questions and take advantage of every opportunity. I’ll report back in my next blog how this worked for me!