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Four Ways Externships Help Paralegals Succeed

Posted by Gail Armatys

Jun 7, 2013 11:34:00 AM

Paralegal ExternDo you know which area of law you want to work in after you graduate from your paralegal program? Do you know if you want to work for a small or large firm? Do you know how you are going to enter the paralegal profession with no office skills? If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you should consider participating in an externship.

What if your paralegal program does not require you to do an externship? You should consider one anyway, especially if you have never worked in an office environment.  Enroll for the externship at the program where you attend.  Or, if they don't offer an externship,  create your own opportunity and offer to work for experience for a specified period of time.

Center for Advanced Legal Studies' (CALS) AAS Paralegal Degree Program includes an externship as a course requirement.  Students who attend our Paralegal Certificate Program are not required to complete an externship.  However, Paralegal Certificate students are encouraged to complete an externship and add the experience to their resume. 

Our Director of Career Services manages these externships and works with students to enhance their experience. Why? it's to your advantage.  Historically, those who take part in the externship likely land their first paralegal job upon completion of their experience. Find out how to prepare for a great experience in CALS' career services by going to  http://www.paralegal.edu/career-services/.

With rapid changes in the economy, the nature of legal work is evolving drastically. No doubt about it, an externship can help you stay on top of change and lead to a more satisfying and beneficial work experience.

Here are four significant ways an externship can enhance your future paralegal career.


Offers Experience & Knowledge

Application of learned skills, theories, and lectures delivered in classrooms are important but differ from the day-to-day legal work environment. Students get a first-hand experience and  learn to apply these theories and skills in real-life challenges throughout the externship.

Additionally, firm exposure allows students to enhance their knowledge and contribute to  their specialized area. For example, doing an externship in a commercial litigation firm exposes the students to the various processes and procedures that are equally important to those taught in school. During your externship, it's important to be open to working on as many different kinds of projects as you can. You'll gain exposure, understanding, skill and experience. 


Develops Skills

A variety of skills and tasks are necessary to accomplish a job effectively and efficiently. Although learned in the classroom, these skills are revisted during a student's tenure as an extern. It exposes him/her to the important practice and implementation of skills such as oral and written communication, presentation, and time & project management. No matter how simple or difficult the task, student externs should be eager to take up the challenge and polish their skills and prove themselves to their supervisors.


Transition into a Job

Employers see externs as prospective employees. Several of our students finish their externship and continue working with the firm full-time. Externships are the primary way for employers to find new talent. Think of it as a really long interview, after which you’ve proved that you are a capable and hardworking employee. Take on as many duties as possible. Don’t consider any task beneath you, even answering phones. If you really want the job and want to prove you’re the right candidate, then demonstrate how invaluable you can be.


Networking Opportunities

Externships are a great way to meet people in your field. Even if you have experience, networking never hurts. An externship allows you to meet people who might help you land a job later and establish contacts. Plus, references from people in the industry will really add weight to your application.

Don’t take the first job offered only to find out you don’t like it! With externships that range from 6 weeks to several months, you’ll discover more about yourself, your interests, and your capability than you may have dreamed. 

Paralegal Program Externship Director

Tina Ghanavati

Director of Career Services

Center for Advanced Legal Studies

  Tina works with students and graduates one-on-one to coordinate externships, prepare them for interviews, and assist with job placement.  She is experienced and successful in her work and looks forward to speaking with students about their paralegal career ambitions. 

Read more about our externship program and graduates that moved into new jobs at http://www.paralegal.edu/externships/

If you have an interest in the law and desire a professional career in the paralegal profession call us at 800-446-6931   Center for Advanced Legal Studies is experienced in paralegal training and committed to helping graduates begin their legal careers.

Topics: paralegal certificate, paralegal degree, career, paralegal externship

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