Meet Stella from Australia, who is interning on Intern Abroad HQ’s Online Law Internship out of Tanzania. Here, she takes us behind the scenes of her online internship with a local law firm…
This internship role is providing me with insight into the legal profession, which is something that has interested me for quite some time and I am even considering pursuing as a career.
Researching and learning from my supervisor about the different stages of legal cases and the documents involved, as well as applying them to the laws and cases in both Tanzania and my own country has been highly constructive for me.
Whether I choose to pursue a career in law in the long-term or not, I believe that an understanding of the law is critical for any profession and is highly relevant to my studies in political science and international relations.
What I’m learning on my remote law internship
In this placement, I’m learning about the Common Law system broadly, but also more specifically about the legal system in Tanzania, which is providing me with important understandings of cultural similarities and differences in the field of law in an international setting.
As a Legal intern, I am getting involved in conducting independent research and answering questions set by my supervisor, in a timely fashion, to assist with the information that I am given during our online meetings. I’ve also been tasked with identifying issues in civil cases and creating hypothetical judgements on these cases.
These skills are very useful as they provide me with a broad knowledge of the law and the ways that it operates in communities and across cultures, as well as helping me develop strong communication skills. Such tasks are beneficial to organizations as they represent my capacity to build and improve upon interpersonal and cultural competencies.
Internship expectations vs. reality
Going into this placement, I was worried that I did not have the relevant background knowledge or experience to understand the operations of the law firm, but since then, my expectations have changed. This is thanks to the assistance that I received from my placement supervisor, who led me through each step of the legal process from his point of view as an advocate, despite my initial lack of knowledge in this area.
I was also not expecting to be able to learn directly about relevant concepts of international and local law from my placement supervisor - but I’ve had the opportunity to understand the ways the theoretical ideas that I have studied elsewhere can be applied to a professional setting.
What it’s like to do an internship remotely
Despite this being an online internship, my supervisor explained the process as if I were present in Tanzania, giving context to each piece of information. Therefore, the advice that I would give is to not be so worried about what you do or don’t know in advance!
Communicating with my supervisor remotely, despite a few initial challenges with time zones and technology, has also been much easier than I was anticipating. I also really appreciate the supervisor’s efforts to adjust our discussions to my areas of interest and background knowledge.
I think that by communicating with my supervisor I have been able to overcome any difficulties, and therefore, I think that what were initially barriers have ultimately proven to be highly constructive opportunities for developing cultural competence through this placement.
Highlights of my internship so far
The most memorable part of the internship at the beginning was making connections between the principles that my supervisor has explained and the ideas that I’ve read about or learned about at university.
During the internship, I was able to complete a task and work out some scheduling difficulties with my supervisor and I appreciated the useful skills that I was able to get from both of these activities.
Gaining cross-cultural experience
I previously had very little knowledge of African countries and cultures, including Tanzania. However, I have been interested in learning more about them, and this online internship has enabled me to learn not just useful professional skills, but also interesting information about a country that I initially had very little knowledge of.
The cultural information that I was given by the in-country coordinator prior to beginning the online internship was very useful to me in understanding the cultural differences between Tanzania and my home country of Australia. Nonetheless, culture is very complex and there are certain challenges that one cannot always be prepared for.
I have been very grateful for the help and support that I have received during my internship placement and in the lead-up to it. It is helping me develop skills in communicating across cultures as well as pushing me to be more resilient and to reach out and communicate when I am feeling challenged.
I will always try hard to adapt to different situations, to take responsibility for understanding those that I interact with, and to respond to cultural differences in a sensitive and respectful way, and I hope that my cultural competence will only continue to grow and develop over time.
Learn more about Intern Abroad HQ’s remote internships here.
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