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CQ: An internship and the importance of reflection – A final year law student perspective

Within the Pace unit LAWS5051, I got to intern at St Francis Social Services, an organisation that provides case work, counselling and employment services and early intervention to help disadvantaged young people working through family breakdown and/or mental health issues. One of my main goals was to try to develop policy in way that is practical and allows clients and staff to understand their rights and responsibilities. While achieving this goal, I developed a range of skills.

My critical writing skills were developed as I was able address the audience, which encapsulated clients that were from different socio-economic backgrounds. In doing so, I was able to develop an ability to reduce my legal jargon when writing to the audiences as they come from other backgrounds and are not necessarily familiar with the law. I was getting advice from my supervisor regarding the Time in Lieu payments. She gave me an example of how the Time in Lieu payments would work and I realised that what she was saying was very relevant and allowed me to gain a whole new perspective. The example was, "If staff have to transport a client that is a refugee from the airport to their place of residency it would count as work. However, if the transportation includes transporting that same person to the hospital because they were injured then it would count as Time in Lieu". I thought, why would anyone would leave someone who is injured just because it does not count as work? Through further reflection, I found that the reason behind my perspective was to do with the fact that I come from a middle-class family and most of my life I have never had to worry about money. The religion and culture I grew up with, and particularly one of the Hindu principles, non-ahimsa (non-violence), would play a pivotal role in my point of view. This meant that I believed in a duty of care to that person and leaving the person there would constitute an act of violence (ahimsa). I also realised that my supervisor held a similar value, according to her Persian background, because her response was similar. Although I know that it could be deeper than this, I realise it is important for me to introspect before I draw conclusions.

While achieving this goal, I was able to improve my innovative thinking. I did this by proposing the idea of turning the written policy into a video format to help both staff and clients understand their rights and obligations. I brought up the recommendation and my supervisor was very impressed, suggesting I should propose the idea in a staff meeting. However, initially, I felt like my idea was not polished enough and I was scared of being rejected before I brought it up. I think a lot of it has to do with my experiences of not feeling like I can achieve a goal due to childhood memories of an inability to feel confident. Growing up in the Nepalese community, I was surrounded by a lot of different ethnic groups that I did not belong to and I faced discrimination very often because of my dark skin. Even though over the years I have done many things that have required me to overcome this insecurity, like speaking in front of a crowd and representing university societies in their executive teams, I still experience this lack of confidence. I have come to realise that many times I do not speak about my ideas or opinions, or I give up working on a goal because of my insecurities.

Understanding people’s backgrounds, that I do not necessarily fit into, does not just help with addressing different client’s concerns but also contributes to an understanding of how my biases can form my views on certain situations and certain people. Furthermore, I have identified a few causes for my lack of confidence in certain situations but there are likely to be many others that I may discover in the future. Therefore, I have come to conclude that I must work on introspecting more often and understanding how I can tackle these insecurities to become more confident.

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