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Clearing the internship minefield

A short internship or a long one?
"A good internship period would be at least a month as the intern takes time to settle and to gel with his colleagues," says ALMT Legal co-founder and recruitment partner Sameer Tapia.

Trilegal Mumbai recruitment partner Nishant Parikh agrees: "We prefer long internships. It becomes easier to assess and to know the interns."

However, the benefits of doing several shorter internships of two or three weeks each are that they provide an opportunity to explore various areas of law, meet different people and work in diverse organisational settings.

Aditya Verma graduated from National Law School of India University Bangalore last year and is now an associate at Fidus Law Chambers, which is smaller firm in Noida. He says that doing two short internships does make sense since the scope for learning in a five to eight-week internship can be limited after a point.

But if you are sure of the area of law you want to get into, a long internship at a specialised organisation is invariably a good certificate showing your dedication to an area or firm.

Big name or small name?
Interning with one of the big law firms will invariably garner you CV points. But there are alternatives and the experience gained at large law firms will not necessarily always be the best or most appropriate for the career path you wish to follow and you could get stuck with photocopying and carrying files for eight weeks.

"A big firm offers the intern an opportunity to work on various types of matters and under various partners having different legal skills which is not possible in a small law firm," argues Tapia.

However, benefits also exist at smaller firms. Verma of Fidus who has done a fair number of internships during his student days at NLS Bangalore remarks: "Smaller firms are unlikely to invite interns above their need or capacity and thus provide greater opportunity for deeper involvement in projects."

Another benefit of interning at a small organisation is that entrepreneurship-oriented individuals might actually learn the nitty-gritty involved in running and managing an organisation rather than just being one cog in a smoothly oiled, self-running machine.

Should one ask for stipends?
"The intern is well within his rights when asking for a stipend", is Tapia's clear-cut answer to the question.

Parikh says that Trilegal pays a fixed stipend of Rs. 15,000 to interns who work for four weeks or more.

Stipends can actually help you choose if you are vacillating between two otherwise similar internship offers because the fact that an organisation provides for stipends can be a clear indicator that it takes its internship program seriously.

Verma agrees: "Stipends provide the employer with an incentive to utilise the intern's resources to the maximum and also make the intern realise that his work is of some consequence."

The best application?
Tapia says that the biggest mistake potential interns make is that they provide "too much information" in their CVs along with "long explanations and odd referral of people, which is not needed".

He adds: "The CV is a good reflection of the candidate – of course the degrees and experience statement reflects the interest and qualifications but sometimes it reflects more than just the achievements. Grades do form a part of selection but I think the school, college and year along with general experience and interest would also play a crucial part in selecting."

Keeping it simple is a good adage in this instance.

Do you have any internship, recruitment, CV or other job or workplace-related questions? Email us in the strictest confidence at or by clicking here.

We will ask a panel of experts to answer your question and give you advice.

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