Best of both worlds

Cue Hannah Montana

(From left) Alex Atchison, Valeria Carbajal, Ryan Gordon, Professor Suzanne Valdez, Kaylea Knappenberger, Cody Seboldt and Andrew Stephens visit the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Valeria Carbajal.

“Do you know what you’re doing this summer?” is one of the most dreadful questions in law school. Looking for a summer job/internship is not only stressful, but can also be disheartening. Applying for on-campus interviews (OCIs) and not getting any callbacks also sucks, for lack of a better word. If we’re completely honest, though, there are many other options that many don’t consider because they’re not your typical “job.” Last summer, I spent the first half of the summer doing an internship and the second half of the summer studying abroad.

Valeria Carbajal visits the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. Photo courtesy of Valeria Carbajal.

After exhausting all of my summer options (or so I thought), I decided to attend the Judicial Field Placement Program meeting. I got the opportunity to intern with a judge who presided over juvenile and mental health cases in Johnson County. He had never taken on a summer intern because he thought they were more of a pain than helpful. To my surprise, after sitting with him in a meeting with a panel, he said he was glad he took me on because I was able to give him insight on an entirely different geographical region and culture as well as a different perspective on important matters. I was able to gain the judge’s trust, and he allowed to help him work on a proposal for the county. During my time in Johnson County, I was able to sit in on all kinds of cases from juvenile to criminal to civil, and my personal favorite: family law mediations.

My time at the courthouse was great; however, nothing can compare to the time I spent studying abroad in Ireland. Although I went to Ireland only really knowing one person from the group, by the end of the trip, I had made AMAZING friendships. It’s hard not to become great friends when you spent every minute of every day together for three weeks. There is no better way to get to know someone than having to spend the night at a hostel where the only thing separating you from the others is either a wall, a bed or a curtain. It was fun getting to explore Ireland with the group and trying new food, drinks and hopping on a bus for a day trip to another city. Experiencing the culture was my favorite part of it all, and if there is anything I’ll remember about law school in the future, it will be this trip!

(From left) Kaylea Knappenberger, Valeria Carbajal, Andrew Stephens, Ryan Gordon, Cody Seboldt and Alex Atchison visit the Guinness brewery in Dublin, Ireland. Photo courtesy of Valeria Carbajal.

Professor Raymond Friel taught two of the Ireland courses and was brilliant! It’s easy to listen to someone when they have a calming Irish accent. Professor Suzanne Valdez taught the comparative family law class, which only furthered my interest in family law. If you ever need recommendations for the best places in Ireland, she is your go-to. One of the most exciting parts of Ireland was visiting the Irish Criminal Courts. Picture the Ministry of Magic in real life! There were Barristers (attorneys) running between courtrooms wearing wigs and gowns. It was the most insane thing I had ever witnessed.

With all of that being said, don’t feel terrible if you can’t find a job for your first summer. Many other great opportunities will provide you with experience and great memories. You might be able to sit in a courtroom for part of the summer and stroll around Ireland for the second half: Best of both worlds!

— By Valeria Carbajal, a 2L from El Paso, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador.