You are interning away, doing the best job you can and hope that your efforts, the economic trends and the Universe will produce the coveted offer to return to the firm as a permanent employee. Let’s say you receive that offer. Now what? You will feel the pressure to accept it proportional to the amount of debt you have accumulated and the good intentions of friends, family and career services. Does it mean you should take the plunge? Even if you have one of “The Ultimate Summer Internships” described by Tara Weiss for Forbes.com, don’t let the “outrageous summer internship perks” cloud your judgment. What makes you happy during your summer gig may not be the key to your long-term happiness. Here are a few things to pay attention to as you continue your internship and questions to ponder when you decide on an offer:
What benefits do you get from working for that particular firm? Consider expertise, types of cases or deals, networking opportunities, training, mentorship, career advancement, future employability, resume enhancements, paycheck.
What are the costs or downsides? How much control will you have over your lifestyle? Will this work allow you to express all your talents and offer the best you have to the world?
Will working for this firm bring you closer to where you want to be in your life 5, 10 or 15 years from now? Consider the long-term implications of your decision. Will this workplace help you become the person you want to be?
How do you like the work itself? Does it fuel your passions? Can you see yourself doing this work day in and day out?
Are you comfortable in the culture of this place? Do you fit in? Can you be who you are when you interact with your co-workers? Will you have to compromise on your own values and attitudes if you take this job?
How do you like the partners or “bosses” you are going to work for? Will they care about your professional growth? How much will you be able to learn from them? Do you respect the way they practice law and deal with clients?
Have you noticed any red flags? The support staff gets no respect. The clients’ phone calls don’t get answered promptly. Yelling is an acceptable form of communication. You can’t get straight answers to your own questions. People who work there seem to harbor a sense of bitterness and resentment about the place. Different groups engage in hush-hush conversations. There is a big turnover. Take notice of such behaviors because they may signal trouble.
Last but not least, once you have made a decision to accept an offer, sleep on it. Wear it for a couple of days before you communicate it to the firm. It’s a big decision to make, so take your time. See how it feels.