Every Interns Tale: No Contacts, What to Do? Editor’s Reply: Make the F*cking Contacts

By Deesha Dalmia

We don’t have any slots available for this year”, she said. This was my eighth phone call since morning to a Law Firm in the National Capital to seek an internship for the summer break. I study in one of the reputed Law universities in the country with an above average grade yet, I find getting an internship tougher than learning those 150+ cases for any of the law subjects every semester.

This isn’t the first time, sure I’ve faced rejections earlier but then I simply settled for whatever I got in the end to not waste time sitting at home during the holidays. There exists an easy solution to this problem; one that is adopted by the majority. This solution is “jugaad” or “source” or “jack”.

What this simply means is you know someone who works in that firm or that you know someone who knows someone who works in the particular firm. The chain could go on and on. But this is the route that students take mostly.

Able students, with good marks have also resorted to such solutions to avoid haggling with the HR of a firm or simply avoid begging for an internship and simply call up “daddy” who will arrange an internship “with a friend/colleague” who happens to be a lawyer.

This gives me the thought that there should be “quota/reservation” for internships as well then for the people who don’t have any sort of “source” to use.

Why not? Reservation has anyway become a solution to every education-related problem in my country today.

Another question pops up as to whether an internship is really necessary which some parents absolutely fail to understand. Yes, dear parent, it is necessary. This is because everyone wants even the new-comers to have some sort of an experience.

Now in the early times, that of Soli Sorabjee/Fali S Nariman and many noted others, the tradition was one shall first finish studying then work as a junior under a lawyer in any court and then fly out independently.

But in today’s time when students want to earn in five-digits right after college, internships are the only “experience” we have on our resume. Hence, sitting at home and whiling away our time during vacations is not something we can afford unless of course I have a “source” and hence my future is secure.

Coming back to the point, there is no clear route through which one ma get an internship because nepotism runs in the smallest to the largest firm/lawyer’s chamber. Now comes the challenging part, my story. Fortunately or unfortunately I belong to those students who actually have a “jugaad” or “source” I can easily exploit but there is one tiny problem, my conscience.

salesman

Call me an idealist but I don’t want to take this route. And boy I have faced criticism. Day in and day in I face criticism and comments like “Why do worry? Your father will easily get you a good internship with the best of firms”. This is what I don’t want. This may sound idealistic and unrealistic but this is how it is.

My friends take it for granted that I needn’t worry, but I worry. I worry a lot. Not only because I have to go through criticism such as this but also at home where my father is unhappy that I don’t seek his help. His intentions are right but I don’t feel right in doing so. I have studied in good schools and currently I’m in a good college, this is where I should start getting to my feet instead of relying on him again for internships.

My friends say I need to give up this thought-process as one day I will have to ask my father for help but I’m trying really hard, everyday to fight against it.

I have tried everything, applying six months in advance and continuous follow-ups and yet.

While I see others, people around me, who really don’t deserve it, intern at my dream firms just because of family’s “jaan-pehchaan”.

Out of the eight firms I called up today, four asked me to call up in a month or so, two did not receive, one said they have stopped taking interns at all and of course, the last one said they are “full for the entire year”. How do you get past that? I wonder how long will I survive without seeking help from my father.

They ask me what’s the big deal? Everyone does it. I’ll answer. I know how it feels to get something on your own, without help. This may be a small incident but it sure gave me a resolve for life.

I had to change schools after my class tenth exams as I wanted a stream which was not offered by my current school. For admission in the new school, I had to sit for a written exam, qualifying that for an interview.

And the moment I saw my name in the “list of selected candidates” on the school’s website, I screamed just one thing “I got this on my own”.

That is the first time I felt that I had got something in life because of my own efforts and not that of my parents or anyone else for that matter.

And that I grew a conscience about doing things/getting things on my own as far as it’s possible. It’s not like I’m paying my own fees, the point is that I want to achieve feats on my own ability. Sure, I’ll need support of my friends and family, but the struggle shall remain to keep the conscience alive as long as possible.

Editor’s note: It’s ok to feel what you are feeling: that you need to do things on your own.

However, in life, you do very little on your own. A lot of life happens in relationships.

You didn’t get anything on your own. Not this life. Not this body. Not this mind.

I don’t know why ‘making contacts’ seems like a bad word for so many students. It’s a perfectly ethical way to get internships and jobs.

Life, personal and professional, is less about your skills and hard work but more about the relationships. (This does NOT mean that skills and hard work are not important. They too are super important).

BIGGER NOTE:

It’s surprising that ‘building contacts’ is a detestable, slimy phrase for so many law students.

Actually, here’s what it means:

1. Being vulnerable enough to be the first to say Hi.

2. Listening. Really listening.

3. Being compassionate. Putting yourself in the other’s shoes.

4. Making a contribution to the other because of the possibility you see in that other.

As a result, you make the pie bigger.

Building contacts=building relationships.

Thinking that success comes through the insane hours of a lone genius is a very limited view of life and success. Success comes when you deal with people. And dealing with people means building relationships.

PS: A lot of what I’ve written can be attributed to the Landmark Forum (I’ll highly recommend the Landmark Education to everyone).

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Comments Till Now

  1. ting ting tding says:

    But then my question is what is the right time for internship ?

  2. Dear All,
    well, it is quiet an interesting interaction to read. interaction between administrator and “really dude?”. it is prefect not to celebrate nepotism over talent, athough, administrative is perfectly correct to say that relationship and interaction with people need to be celebrated. professionalism to talk the people for mentor ship and ask for help is required to be encourage in the profession of advocacy.administrator and “really dude?” are on the same page because one is encouraging professionalism and individuality respectively. networking and hard work need to go simultaneously
    balance need to maintained.

    these are personal thoughts feel free to disagree and ignore my imperfect thoughts.

  3. This doesn’t make sense. You cannot encourage people to rely on contacts. Once you’re out in the real world with a job your contacts can only take you so far. A big lawyer’s son working in a great chamber might suck at appearing before a Judge. What is useful then? Only your hard work and determination to do better.
    I am practicing in the Delhi High Court where every second person is someone’s son/daughter/niece/nephew and while some of them are as good as their well-established family member, there are A LOT of them who cannot mention a matter to take an adjournment.
    Yes, once you start working it’s a good thing to be at least cordial with a lot of people who know the sort of work you’re into especially if you’re looking to start your own practice.

    • administrator says:

      Please read the note carefully.

      We never encouraged people to rely ‘solely’ on building contacts. On the contrary, it’s clearly stated, that hardwork, knowledge and the like are spremely important.

      All that we are telling law students here is to stop viewing ‘building contacts’ as a slimy, salesman-y thing and instead see for what it really is: developing human relationships.

  4. Really dude? says:

    The Editor’s note is absolutely disgraceful. You might want to use the pretext of a relationship (based on volition and NOT an automated process that you have no control over) to get ahead in life-add that extra bullet point to your CV. But please, drop the pretense of morally justifying it. Nepotism is immoral/unethical, no matter which way you slice it . That our society encourages it (in both private and public sectors), does not make it right. This is like the argument fans of cyclists use: If all doped during a Tour de France, it is okay to dope. Huh? No it is NOT. Using “contacts” isn’t a whole lot different to using a PED in athletics. You want to do it, do it, since it typically goes unchecked and ignored. Don’t justify it. It is unfortunate to read this on a law students’ blog.

    • administrator says:

      Dear youngster,

      You got birth because of a relationship. You got a school because of relationships. You grew because of relationships. You studied in college because of relationships.

      Relationships means humans communicating with humans and becoming more in the process. It’s about listening, compassion, building trust, helping each other, making the pie bigger and making a difference.

      If you find that disgraceful, find grace on some other planet.

      India’s independence was not due to Gandhi. It was because of the relationship he had with himself, with other freedom fighters, with the Britishers and with the people of India.

      If you think success comes through the insane hours of a lone genius, that’s a very limited view of life and success. Success comes when you deal with people. And dealing with people means building relationships.

      PS- I used the word ‘relationship’ in my note. You equated it with Nepotism? Really? That’s what relationships mean to you?

      PPS- You could have used a more intelligent example than ‘doping’.

      • Really dude? says:

        First, do not attempt to condescend me by alluding to how old or otherwise I might be. That’s too old and tired a trick and I’ll gladly play along.

        Second, yes, I did call it nepotism because in the context of the blog and your note, that was the appropriate connotation of the term. Don’t throw dictionary meanings at me and insult my intelligence by building strawmen.

        Third, sure if you’re referring to building symbiotic, organic relationships while working, or generally dealing with, or talking to people, I am with you but that is wholly different to USING the relationship (a.k.a asking a relative to put in a word) to seep through loopholes of a flawed recruitment process that oversteps several deserving candidates for the less deserving ones. Again, if you cannot make the distinction between the two, it’s up to you. Don’t give moral justifications for it. And Gandhi, well, let’s just say I am not sold on your example for a plethora of reasons but that is a can of worms I do not want to open now because it’s besides the point. In any case, no parallel between building a movement and building a CV.

        Fourth, you want to call doping an ‘unintelligent’ example you should be willing to tell me why.

        • administrator says:

          First, I think you can’t take niceties. Dear Youngster was a greeting, not an attempt at condescending you.

          Second, not it’s not an appropriate connotation. It’s what ‘you’ think of the term.

          Third. The recruitment process is not flawed. Dealing with the world demands dealing with people.

          Fourth. Here’s a can of worms you might want to digest: Actually, building a CV is pretty similar to building a movement. Do read the addendum I am putting in the post.

          Fifth. Unintelligent, because doping is banned/criminal. It’s just now allowed. Building contacts is SURELY NOT THAT!

          • Really dude? says:

            First, no, calling someone a youngster without knowing them is absurd and ‘not nice.’

            Second, again, no substantiation. Why am I not surprised.

            Third, tell me more :p. I never made the argument that one must operate in clinical isolation from the rest of the world. But I did chuckle at the strawman.

            Fourth, I have absolutely no idea how the addendum relates in anyway to an alleged similarity between a CV and a movement (typically born out of a genuine cause/belief system in response to systemic abuses). These are generalities and I have never argued against them at all. I didn’t say, ‘don’t be friendly.’ I replied specifically in the context of the post and your note to it.

            Fifth, sure but how many top athletes are even examined regularly? The larger point I am trying to make remains. You don’t dope, or cheat, take fake medical time-outs, etc. not just because it’s banned (incidently, there’s always a moral premise behind banning something) but because no right-thinking individual (you know, those who don’t borrow others’ brains to do their thinking) will want to give himself an unfair advantage over his competitors. Otherwise it’s pretty easy to take WADA for a ride (Lance Armstrong, who got caught, Andre Agassi, who didn’t and still holds his majors).

    • administrator says:
  5. I find this to be a really interesting post. I think the core problem you raise is purely a philosophical one concerning the means-end principle, ‘coz professionally speaking you do seem to understand fully well what it takes to climb the corporate ladders….yet you refuse to be cowed by the rat race.

    A rationalization for a line of action that we Must follow in order to move Up in this obviously flawed system fails to grapple with the depth of your concern.

    I can only tell you from my experience it never gets better…

  6. What's In A Name says:

    The article is well written, and it’s good to know that you have a conscience. After coming to this field, I have realized one point for sure. People in this field does not have any conscience. What people do care about are internships. And the base for that, as the editor have already pointed out is RELATIONSHIP which can be of any type! Starting from getting drunk with ‘resourceful’ persons to all other stuffs! What these smart jugaadis fail to understand that not everyone is as shameless as them. There are many other people who can’t make those ‘RELATIONSHIPS’! From my personal experience I have seen people knowing shit, I repeat, shit about law or anything associated with it land up in Khaitan, Mulla & Mulla & Craige Blunt & Caroe, blah blah blah with the help of their FATHER, MOTHER, GRANDFATHER, GODFATHER and people who have joined these stream are left to dig their own graves. Before I started studying law, I did not know why all the lawyer are not successful? I often used to think that there are so many cases hapeening, so many pending, still why only a handful of the lawyers are successful. I got my answer when I joined this profession. I got to know that most of them doesn’t even get the proper training that will make them successful one day.

    AND A SINCERE ADVICE AS A WELL-WISHER TO ANYONE ENTERING THE LEGAL PROFESSION: DON’T EVEN THINK OF STUDYING LAW, UNLESS YOU HAVE ROCK-SOLID CONNECTION IN THE LEGAL ARENA!

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