This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2021 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Matteo Akbarpour, COL ’24
This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at a prominent intellectual property and immigration law firm based in Los Angeles, California. After finishing my freshman year at Penn, I started to look towards becoming a lawyer as a possible career path. I was not sure which type of law I wanted to practice, so I began researching the ways in which I could choose a career path that was most fulfilling and aligned with my personal values. Through a plethora of cold emails to what seemed as an innumerable amount of law firms in Los Angeles, I became acquainted with a lawyer who specializes in representing Latin American immigrants in their process to obtain visas or citizenship rights, as well as representing certain Hollywood actors and musicians. I spent my time learning from the lawyers at this firm, watching the way they interacted with clients, processed files, and even got the chance to personally meet with the clients they represented.
The University was extremely compassionate and understanding when I discussed the fiscal challenges involved with starting this internship. With my reward, I was able to cover the transportation, clothing, supply, and technological costs associated with the internship. Coming from California, it was extremely important to be able to travel all across the state in order to meet with clients and take notes on important meetings taken by the lawyers at my firm.
Moreover, I used my reward to purchase the supplies necessary to work for such an overworked firm.
The most rewarding component of this internship, however, was the amount of compassion I witnessed by my superiors in their conversations with the immigrants and clients they represented. I learned how crucial communication skills are for maintaining a calm, collected demeanor in meetings that can become emotionally challenging for any individual. Listening skills are arguably the most important for an attorney who wishes to become involved with the political crises that seem to dominate national conversations. As someone who is fluent in both Portuguese and English, I used my bilingual skills to bridge the communication gaps left by any language barriers that existed between my superiors and their clients. I left this internship with a sense of admiration for those who represent individuals coming from disadvantaged backgrounds such as myself. Practicing law represents an emotional investment, fueled by a desire for challenging the status quo.
I am completely grateful that Penn would allow me the opportunity to engage in such an intellectually rewarding and fulfilling experience. I am now more certain of pursuing a career in Law, as I am more aware of the day to day experiences of a practicing attorney. I established personal and professional bonds with my coworkers that I will fondly remember. Experiencing this internship has motivated me to continue to work towards completing the professional goals that I set for myself.