October 17 2016

The Importance of Summer Internships

Confused and clueless about what career path I wanted to pursue, I completed two internships this summer. I spent 8 weeks at Baringa Partners, a Consultancy firm and three weeks on a Law Work Experience Scheme at Slaughter and May. I applied for both because Consultancy and Law are not worlds apart in their demand for certain characteristics and skills and I wanted to understand the difference in the type of work entailed and what I did and did not enjoy.

Both professions demand individuals who like to be faced with difficult scenarios and subsequently, enjoy creating strategies. Similarly, both a lawyer and a consultant work for a client, and are driven to understand their client’s needs, research relevant information and then provide expertise and advice.

With Consultancy in particular, I was excited by the prospect of being staffed on client cases and becoming directly involved within a project, observing how each role contributes to the final outcome. I was drawn to the fluid nature of Consultancy too and the considerable variety of work on a day-to-day basis. Every client differs, every project is uniquely run and a consultant’s role within each project varies as it depends on what specific action needs to be done to achieve the client’s aim.

I was drawn to Law because of the similarities between Law and my degree, History. Both disciplines emphasize the importance of a strong argument, intellectual strength and the ability to articulate information in a concise manner. Both History students and lawyers are required to think abstractly, practically problem-solve and challenge assumptions. Having spoken to lawyers and having completed work experience weeks at local solicitor firms, Law stood out in its requirement of a huge scope of expert knowledge and skills.

Ultimately, I have chosen to train as a solicitor at Slaughter and May as I seek a business focused academic career. As a History student, I enjoy the research and detail and know that I would prefer a more micro-orientated, expert-driven profession. However, I know I could not have been wholly certain of this decision had I not experienced and understood what a career in Consultancy would entail and why it is not perfectly suited to me.

My one piece of advice would be to apply for insight days and internships because they’re a great way to find out more about the nature of the work – they are not binding and by no means are you wedded to that career if you hate it! Even if you attend insight days for example, for law, consultancy, investment banking and hate them all, you’ll have prepped your CV, critiqued the skill of writing cover letters and considered why or why not particular careers suit you and that’s incredibly useful in itself! It is equally as important to find out what you don’t want to do as it to find out what you do.


Clemency Barrett

Vice President 2016/17

Durham University Women in Business