ILCM is an extremely welcoming work environment. The team seems to be genuinely interested in everyone's well-being and, while you will have plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself, they will never ask you to go beyond your capabilities. It is also a holistic learning experience, so though you will certainly learn a lot about immigration law and policy, you will also learn about nonprofit work, work-life balance, law school and so much more.
What I wish was different
I wish I had gotten more opportunities to interact with my colleagues and supervisors in person. I recommend attending as many in-person events as possible or working from the office if that is within your abilities.
Be proactive! Reach out to ILCM staff within and beyond your team if you have any questions about your tasks, want to let them know you are free to help if needed, or simply want to ask about their work, academic and professional history, or anything else. They are all willing and excited to help you in any way they can, and they are all amazing and inspiring people you can learn a ton from!
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May - July 2020 • Saint Paul, MN
What I liked
I learned so much at this internship. As a detention intern I answered calls from detained immigrants and their family members for four hours a week, and for the rest of the time I helped the four Detention Project attorneys with their cases. I greatly benefitted from the commitment to teaching at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM). Every attorney who. I helped was excited to engage with me and help me understand the process better. My weekly check-ins with my supervisor were a great place to fill in new gaps that I'd discovered in my knowledge, and I felt incredibly supported every week. I especially appreciate the ILCM's commitment to emotional support as you experience second-hand trauma from clients and learn about so many ways that people are struggling. The ILCM created a supportive environment in which I could contribute to their work, learn about the US immigration system, and formulate new ideas and beliefs.
What I wish was different
This summer my internship was purely virtual. This was a necessity in order to protect staff and clients from COVID-19, but I know that future interns will greatly benefit from working in-person.
ASK QUESTIONS! When I started I knew zero about the immigration process in the United States. In reality I have only scratched the surface (there is SO MUCH to learn), but I gained a ton knowledge this summer by asking simple questions. Your coworkers at the ILCM are experts. Use them.
FIND YOUR STRENGTHS! Before I started my internship this summer I worried that I would not be very useful as an undergraduate student. This was not the case. I certainly knew less than the law students and many of the college graduates, but I was still able to be very helpful. While the law students worked on legal briefs I did translations, conducted research, and contacted clients. The attorneys worked with me to give me projects that I would be good at, and understood that I was often learning as I went.
CONNECT WITH COWORKERS! This is something that I wish I had done better. There were several opportunities each week to attend virtual lunches and coffees with coworkers and I would recommend that you take full advantage (though hopefully you will have them in person). The people here are great, and even though they are full adult lawyers do not be intimidated. They are all very kind and excited to meet you.