Breaking The Silent Shell

Nervous.

I was nervous once I walked in.

The cubicles were in the middle, the phones were off the hook and the whole scene was just too overwhelming. It was very intimidating at first glance, but at the same time, I was nervous.

Little did I know that I would get used to environment in as little as two weeks.

My heart would pound whenever I hear the phone ring, and I wonder, as I pick up the calls, if the other side can hear my heart beat. Before I came to the internship on my first day, my ears were hot and red and my cheeks were flushed with a dangerous scarlet color. As Mr. Jim Kiley gave me a tour of the law firm, each step made me aware of my surroundings. “This is where a lawyer works in… do I have to sit in those chairs every second, minute, hour and day?” The seats looked awfully uncomfortable.

However, during the first day of the internship, I was already experiencing my first bank closing. As Mr. Thomas Jaffa guided me through each itty-bitty step of a bank closing, I was thrilled to see the interesting process.

Even though it might seem like a long, winded and boring process to everyone, I was personally very surprised at how many steps were taken just to ensure that the person meant to sign the papers was actually the person signing it in real time. I was really taken aback by the detailed and very well thought-out processes that were taken. It must have been the ways in which my mind likes to crack down every tiny little hole that can let something go wrong. Whenever I plan an event or system for Exit 33, the school literary magazine, as the editor, or for Global Angels, a charitable club in school, as the events coordinator, I was always told to “calm down” and relax because the members think nothing will go wrong.

However, my mind doesn’t work like that; I’m not a person who would worry about every single aspect of life, but I just like to be thorough in everything I do since I can’t stand seeing many bright doors, metaphorically in my mind, open for a great opportunity that is about to fly out of our reach. Many successful ventures lead to greater opportunities. I am a woman who takes a grab out of opportunities. I not only run towards them, but I soar through the skies like a pigeon that finds New York City as a boring place for him, so he explores the stars.

The tedious process a lawyer needs to take with proper care of the client really appealed to me. It was just a great way for my mind to release the stress of being held back, and allow me to control the outcome. It does not take the “let’s see how it goes” kind of mindset, but I believe that if you have all of the information from your research and ask all of the right people for favors, you can achieve anything in the world. This belief is shown throughout all of my newspaper articles for The Southerner. The editors-in-chief always commend me for great job fact-finding and researching, so I thought that I could use this skill and mindset of mine that requires a well thought-out plan build on from extensive research and contributions.

Although there were many ways you can go with that desire, there were very few that go with my areas of interest. I would go for areas of history, linguistics and business, so I proposed a job that required skills needed for all those industries. A lawyer.

Movies portray a lawyer as someone who freely sues people just for the money and not for the clients’ considerations, but after interning at a law firm, I saw that it was not as it seems. Even though it might just be the firm I am interning at where three brothers work together as lawyers, it provided a warm and comfortable atmosphere after I tossed away my nervousness. Everyone was talking to each other about children’s college admissions, or romantic relationships, or a child’s basketball game, or even a discussion on India since the receptionist wanted to go study abroad.

This small law firm made this happen. It was what made me see how relationships between colleagues are very independent, even in jobs when you do not have any colleagues. The only thing I regretted during this internship was to talk more to the people who worked there. Yes, it is critical to gather work experience, but the interaction between colleagues is also very crucial since it brings the life into the dreary atmosphere created by the shelves of books and cubicles.

Even though I fancied the idea of entrepreneurship before interning at the law firm, I began to like both sides as equals. Being a lawyer values clients and goes to far extents to get the client to win the case since the money is necessary to repay for the client’s loss. Despite the fact that lawyers take a percentage (usually 20 to 40%) of the money, they actually care for the clients. This was the environment I wanted to work in. I can totally see my future as a lawyer as clear as a view from the top of Empire State building, disregarding the clouds of course.

Nevertheless, during my time at the internship, there was always one thing that haunted me.

The phones.

On my first day when I saw the receptionist’s desk that day, I was dumbstruck by all of the buttons on the phone that directed calls. “What does the ‘feature’ button do?” Of course, I was too scared to use it, but my curiosity ran wild when setting my eyes upon this enigma.

I never touched the phone after the second week of my internship. I just could not handle the pressure of having someone from the other side repeat himself or herself because I would get the feeling that I have failed and I am incompetent. Face-to-face works well for me, but when I cannot analyze one’s facial features, I am unable to read the other person’s thoughts. I usually control what I say or the manner I bring up my concerns judging by a person’s facial expression, but through the phone is very hard to converse through.

However, one day last year, Exit 33 that meets on Tuesdays was deciding what to do for the school assembly in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Since I leave early for my internship at 3:15 PM every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I was left out in the decision of who would want to participate in the recitation of two famous poems.

During journalism class the day after, my friend, also a member of Exit 33, told me that the members volunteered me.

I took on the challenge, knowing that I will have to deal with it for every interview for colleges and jobs and for the presentation, I have to make for the judge at DECA states competition in my Entrepreneurship Written Event.

I took a stab at it.

The day came, and the two other girls were there, who were participating with me (a girl was in the previous act, so only three were together backstage when she was performing). I was extremely nervous. It was my first time to be in front of over a thousand students with spotlights right on us. I could not see the audience’s faces due to the light, but I confidently enunciated every word clearly and loudly due to one of the girls’ help: Sara Gottlieb. She is into theatre, so she taught me how she projects her voice out to the audience and gets over her nervousness. She became a totally different person when she’s on stage.

And, on January 17, I picked up the phone, willingly, to answer the call.

I passed with flying colors.

My fears ended, but it was sad how I only had two days left… and those two days, the receptionist was there. Every Wednesday and Thursday I was at my internship, the receptionist was in. Tuesdays were the only days without one.

I really treasured this experience and this might even be the rough draft of my college essay.* Who knows?

I would really like to thank all of the people I met at my internship. They made the experience so much better and I could not thank them even more. With my wish-washy decision to become a lawyer, this internship helped me become more confident and stand up.

I can see my future unravel like a panorama.

Background information: I had an internship every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school 3:30 to 5:30. It later became 3:30 to 6:50, but the day I wrote this was the last day of my internship… My internship was at a law firm (Kiley, Kiley& Kiley, PLLC). Ms. Kinsey, the internship coordinator of our school, gives interns assignments every week as homework, but this last reflection is done at the end of the internship. (I made it into a memoir instead.)

*It did not. Please refer to The Identity in My Pen

(10.19.12)