SHECP INTERNSHIP PART 7: WORK A.K.A HELL
I have been hesitating to write about my workplace but I guess it’s the right time now. There has been many ups and downs so it was hard to write about my internship objectively. Anyway, this internship definitely has changed my life in many ways.
My first day was very overwhelming, emotionally. Me and my roommate arrived 30 minutes late because of a train traffic. The 2 train was ridiculous. We met with the volunteer coordinator in the 18th floor conference room and she showed us where our stations are. There were other four interns there and I never saw three of them again after the meeting (they were not fired, it’s just a large company).
My first day was all about meeting different people and other interns. They were very nice and most of them are in law school. The only thing that upset me the most was that they dressed very nice and professionally. These kids know how to mix and match. And more importantly, they are all from T14 (Top 14 law schools: Columbia, Harvard, NYU, UPenn, Yale…)
I was the only kid who didn’t take any politics classes there, there were three undergrad interns: me, my roommate and another girl from UPenn. My roommate was put in VLFD team (Volunteer Lawyer for a Day) and I was put in FPP (Foreclosure Prevention Project). Unlike me working at the office most of the times, my roommate was in court 4 days week assisting volunteer lawyers in consumer protection matters.
My first Tuesday was all about reading materials. Apparently, the foreclosure process in New York is very complicated and also, I never know what it’s like to pay mortgage or take out a loan so everything was totally new to me. On my first Tuesday there, the office was empty. I couldn’t find anyone in my unit and later I found out that on Tuesday, all FPP lawyers go to different clinics to assist clients for free.
After the first week, I was asked to go to the Bronx clinic to help two of our lawyers. It took me nearly two hours to get to the Bronx clinic from Flatbush. My first day in court was terrible. It was a nightmare. I sat in a settlement conference with one of our lawyers and I couldn’t understand anything they said. Back to the clinic, it’s the same. I felt like I wasted my Tuesday there learning nothing. After a week reading a lot of materials, I realized the theory and reality are so much different. Clients keep coming in and they have different types of foreclosure. One just received a notice of pendency, the other just has a sale, someone was just recently served with a summons and complaints. It was hard for me to tell which phase of foreclosure they were in.
On Wednesday, I convinced myself that I hate Tuesday the most. The two-hour train to Bronx, the long hours in the clinic understand nothing and the two-hour train back to Brooklyn in rush hour. Everything was horrible, merely horrible. I told myself: “it’s only one day/a week!”
In the office, I was given some minor jobs like photocopying, scanning, sending letters. I usually kept asking if there’s anything else for me to do but since I was an undergrad intern, I couldn’t do much like other law school interns.
However, at the moment, I must say that everything they made me do was meant for something and I actually appreciate what they let me do. The errands appear to be totally worthless, but scanning documents and putting them into the drive taught me how to organize the legal documents and the system of my workplace. Also, photocopying and drafting cover page for a motion also gave me a better understanding of how the documents work in court. Every single details taught me something that I didn’t even realize after a month.
Why did I say a month? Because in my fourth week, I sat in with one of the paralegals and we did an intake with a potential client over the phone. His mother died several years ago but someone forged her signature on a mortgage so his son was in a debt that he never knew about. He called us for help and to see if we could do anything. We told him to come to the Bronx clinic on Tuesday. I only met him briefly at the clinic but somehow, everything he said suddenly made sense to me. I could tell which phase he’s in right now and how we may help him. One of our lawyers were assigned to help him and I was happy to assist this case.
That was the first case that I actually understand what’s going on. And after that, I was more confident in talking with clients. They put me on the intake schedule. One day of each week, I must go through voicemail inbox and call back clients to see what’s going on. Of course, each client has a different accent so it was hard to me to understand their situations.
Besides going to court, I was given some research tasks and actually I enjoyed it. Maybe because I have a good stalking skills. My station is usually filled with papers which look like Homeland.
I never thought that I can like being in court on Tuesday. The last three Tuesdays, I genuinely enjoyed being there and doing intake with clients because now I finally understand this foreclosure thing. The two-hour train was not that bad anymore since I discovered Netflix download option and found some good books.
Of course my internship still has other pressures. The law school interns are insanely smart and they know what to do and how to do it. It was hard for me to keep up with everything in the first few weeks but finally I managed it. I really wish this internship could be longer so I can learn more.