Internship Experience @ The Banyan Adaikalam, Chennai: An NGO which provides rehabilitation for mentally challenged, destitute women

My first internship as a law student this winter! Sounds fancy, right? Well, at first I thought so too.

But beyond all the showing off to friends and relatives (mind you, only to the ones who had no clue about the legal field!), interning for the first time, especially as a first year law student whose legal knowledge is somewhat, uhm *limited* to say the least, had quite a few surprises in store for me.

I was well aware that internships weren’t going to be as fancy as shown on television soaps or Hollywood movies, but even for my washed down standards/expectations, the internship involved doing a lot of mind numbing tasks on repeat mode.

Now, for the facts of my first internship experience: I interned in an NGO which provides rehabilitation for mentally challenged, destitute women.

Everyone in my house, my domestic help included, were worried about how I would cope with handling and interacting with mentally challenged women, considering that I’ve had no prior experience.

But, putting my modesty on the back burner, I can actually say that I wasn’t so bad. At least, not half as bad as I had imagined myself to be. (This involved me screaming and running to the hills).

To be honest, there have been times when I was not-so-occupied, to put it lightly, but in equal measure, there have been times when I was completely jolted out of my comfort zone, which actually, not to sound clichéd, taught me a lot of life lessons.

Interning for the first time , especially in a home for mentally challenged destitute women was a huge deal and all my experiences were an amalgamation of novelty, excitement and eager anticipation in equal portions.

There were days when I’ve felt completely frustrated, frustrated that while my friends were out there, having fun, here I was, haggling with an auto driver to clinch a deal that would make me feel that I’d got the fair end of the bargain (And oh, on a totally unrelated note, the meter system in autos, at least as far as Chennai is concerned , is the stuff of fairy tales!)

And this is to the entire populace : first time student interns don’t get paid; At least 99.99% of the times we don’t get paid; in fact I’d paid the organisation a sort of fee to intern with them. So please don’t ask me how I plan on spending my stipend.

Let’s get this cleared up okay? I AM NOT COMPLAINING.

As hard as that is to believe, in my defence, I’m just an 18 year old trying to figure out the dynamics or rather, the complexities of the overly-hyped up adult life.

And a significant portion of this ‘adult-life’ of mine during the holidays, involved me interning for the first time.

Although I had interned for all but 15 odd days, these are some of the things that I’ve learnt during my internship period coupled with what my friends have learnt as well:

· Don’t go in expecting to be treated like you’re the ruler of the Andals and the seven kingdoms.

As difficult as this is to swallow, you are literally at the bottom of the hierarchy, so much so that the Marian Trench will seem shallow to you. Just focus on giving your best.

· There will be awkward moments, where people will question the extent of your legal skills since you’re nothing but a first year law student, who has in fact just completed one semester.

There’s nothing to do, except to suck it up and let your work speak for itself.

· Brace yourself, you’re going to be made to run around a lot. If it’s any consolation, consider this to be your daily workout routine.

· At least 50% of the work will include carrying files or doing something that probably doesn’t do justice to your profile or interests.

· Cut out the ego; Yes, maybe you can do so much better but doing all that helps build a strong foundation….or so I’ve been told. Basically it’s prudent to take everything to be a learning experience.

· There is no harm in having queries or asking doubts to improve your knowledge- they are supposed to answer them, even if they judge you for that.

· Lastly, but most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you screw up; Hey, to err is human, after all!

So you might question the integrity behind all my claims. I mean, I did after all intern only this once, right? But these observations are things that my friends and I have collectively faced and experienced.

This entry has been submitted for the LexisNexis-Lawctopus Internship Experience Writing Competition 2015-2016. iPleaders is the learning partner for this competition.

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