How to Land Your Dream Law Internship - Part 2: How to Deal With Disappointment

Derek Bayley

This week, we look at how to deal with the darker side of dream job hunting – dealing with disappointment and learning to build yourself back up. Beyond Law was fortunate enough to interview Derek Bayley – the 2015 Nygh Intern at the Hague Conference on Private International Law. This is the second part in a two-part interview with Derek Bayley – the 2015 Nygh Intern at the Hague Conference on Private International Law.

You can read the first part here.

How do you deal with disappointment in hunting for a job opportunity?

DB:  Disappointment is an emotion that can, and should, be converted into motivation. We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a rejection in hunting for job opportunities.  But what allows you to succeed next time is what you do next.  After dealing with the initial hurt, review what happened.  Be self-critical (but not too harsh!). Ask for feedback.  Work out where you went wrong. Then use that learning, in applying for something else, or reapplying for the same opportunity, then let go of negativity.  It’s being able to accommodate for mistakes and acknowledge the mistakes where they happen, but not fixate on them. That is the key.

How do you make the transition from law school into a career?

DB:  Law school is a ‘slow burn’. This is an expression that I use to explain the hard work students put in for minimal short-term reward while actually at Uni. In the early years, even if you try extremely hard and do very well, there is no immediate pay off (in a professional sense) for your achievements. There might be some sense of small gratification with tokens to collect (such as a good grades, undertaking and exchange program, or perhaps securing minor internships) and those are good things to collect, but equally those things may not be enough to sustain your energy for what is, for many people, a 5+ year process. 

With the minimal returns from the slow burn in those early years it is very easy to become disheartened. Students are always temped to take their foot off the pedal at this point, due to the lack of tangible reward.  This is absolutely the wrong thing if they want professional success; as you start reaching the end of your degree, this is exactly the time that you need to fire on all cylinders. My take home message is this: persevere with the slow burn of law school, push through the malaise of the middle to penultimate years, because that is prime territory for you to seek out or create, for yourself, an interesting side project or internship which will act as the precursor to something bigger professionally later!

What would you say to graduating law students who have pushed through the ‘slow burn’ and are now looking for opportunities in the workforce?

DB: Times are rough.  But, in order to get where you want, if you haven’t been lucky with the way opportunities have come to you, you need to go out there and create them yourself. And that sounds really easy for somebody in my position to say, but I have taken my own medicine - as a precursor to my current opportunity at The Hague Conference, I went out and simply petitioned and pestered an organisation which I really wanted to work for which had no formal internship programme, until they relented!  Tatiana Stotz’s recent article on creating your own opportunities is very much on point here, and I entirely agree with her advice. 

How do you “cold-apply” to a place and sell yourself?

DB:  It is the same as any standard application, but with a double-shot of enthusiasm and pester-power. There is a lot to be said about optimism and enthusiasm.  Remember that interns and those starting don’t have much to offer a part from being free and engaged labour, but if you can offer that … keep trying … keep pestering... keep being visible, demonstrate that you could be valuable, and that you understand the organisation and where you would fit in (i.e at the bottom!). 

If you could go back and speak with first year Derek what would you tell him?

DB: Persevere. It’s a bloody long road in Law school. It’s hard to see the fruits of your labour form very early on in the piece and it’s hard to know where you will end up.

Also, I’d tell myself that it’s not wrong to look up to people. It’s not wrong to look at the things people have done in front of you and make yourself hungry for those things as well. If you want to compare yourself to anyone, compare yourself to somebody better.  Now that will possibly make you feel pretty crap! But it will also motivate the hell out of you. … Focus on the people doing the great things.

Max Burke and Derek Bayley

Pictured: Max Burke (Beyond Law Development Director) with 2015 Nygh Intern, Derek Bayley

Any final comments?

DB: Beyond Law is an incredible resource. It provides job seekers with one less thing to worry about in the application process, by removing the knowledge barrier about what opportunities exist. Applying for jobs is only half the challenge, knowing they exist is the other.  Max Burke and Anthony Lieu, the creative minds behind Beyond Law are providing an amazing service to everywhere. 

Thanks to Derek Bayley for his time and support. Want to get in touch for some advice? Drop Derek a line via LinkedIn

Feeling inspired? Opportunities await! Back to our Job Hub here. Do you have tips you want to share with law students and graduates, or have a blog article you want to contribute? Just get in touch with us.