First Day on the Job
Starting a new job can be scary for even the most experienced professionals in the workforce. Whether you are preparing for your first internship ever or your first professional job post-graduation, we all feel nervous. But, hopefully there is a great amount of excitement for your first day. This past summer I was nervous for my first day working at the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. I was not sure what to expect as a Level II Student Intern. I wondered: Would I gain valuable experience? Would they even trust me with work? Who do I eat lunch with? What does an intern even do? What do I wear?
Finding appropriate attire really depends on the environment of your work. I knew that an office full of attorneys would entail more professional attire so I wore black slacks, a pink blouse and black heels on my first day. I grew more aware of what my co-workers wore to work and eventually was able to embrace “Jean Friday” as a sacred day of the week. As I drove to work for my first day (hands sweaty and all), I tried to remind myself of something that a dear mentor of mine told me. She said that being nervous shows that you care. So I walked into the west wing of the building and reminded myself that it was okay to feel nervous because I cared a lot about this job. I walked in and met my boss for the first time. She found me a desk to sit at and she introduced me to the employees around me. After meeting so many people at once, I knew that learning names would take time but leaving a first impression mattered. I tried to give off a friendly and ambitious attitude towards all who I encountered. Later, these people would become colleagues who I would go to for questions and some even became friends who would go to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market with me for lunch.
I soon learned that the D.A.’s office has no shortage of work awaiting interns. The best advice that I could give another intern is to say, YES. Say yes to any opportunity for work that comes your way. I was able to work with the Discovery, Domestic Violence and Restitution Units within the Misdemeanor floor. This was my second internship ever and I had no prior experience in the field of law. But working with so many different clerks taught me about the process behind criminal law. Even though I initially felt timid to be trained in new tasks, I always learned from them. Any experience is positive because it teaches you something about yourself and about the content in which you are working with.
Lastly, know that as an intern you do have a form of autonomy as an employee. Ask a lead on your floor about their work. Ask someone you just met to have lunch and learn about their educational and work experiences. Introduce yourself to people who you admire and do not be afraid to even ask for their contact information. I learned that attorneys are not as intimidating as I initially depicted them to be. All of them were in my shoes at one point in their careers. My proudest moment was when I introduced myself to a leading prosecutor of a famous case in the Bay Area. Yes, I was nervous. But I did it and I made a meaningful connection because of it. And I want you to know that you can too! I believe that you can put yourself out there and overcome that fear. Always remind yourself of your value because your potential in this world is truly endless.
Written by: Emily Barneond