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INTERNSHIP DIARY: The surprisingly interesting side to poring over legal documents

...I have mostly had no sleep. (Photo credit: incurable_hippie)

...I have mostly had no sleep. (Photo credit: incurable_hippie)

To pick up some (minor) brownie points, I tried to get in on Monday morning before my manager. Anticipating some pre-Olympic congestion, I set off an hour earlier. Unfortunately, London’s clunky public transport system – a delayed journey and a broken escalator at Euston – put paid to that even without any extra crowds, and I arrived later than usual.

It wasn’t a great start, and my new task for the week made sure it continued in that vein. I was trying to secure a refund for the bank from a company that it had overpaid in the past. If you think that trying to get a multi-national firm to pay an overdue amount is a hassle, try getting to pay you BACK.

I had to pore over a legal agreement between the two companies, and find the sections that contained the formula the bank was using to calculate the refundable amount. It sounds tedious, but it was actually a good learning experience as I got to see how much detail legal documents need to contain just to bind a deal together.

As with all legal stuff, there comes the need to provide supporting evidence. So once again I was on the phone to another part of the world – India this time – to get the loan and utilization percentage amounts of the company from the funding that was provided to them. After 3 or so calls to the team in India, they knew my name and exactly what I wanted.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t looking forward to my phone calls at the end of the third day of chasing them, particularly after I had them manually scan documents that eventually had to be couriered anyway.

This task earned me a lot of praise from the rest of the team because the deal was quite complicated and they were surprised at how I managed to pick up the gist of the it and get the task done. It was definitely a confidence boost and made me think that the long hours were paying off.

For the rest of the week my manager made me prepare a legal memo for a new deal, which was really long, because of the volume of reading required and getting to grips with the complex law terminology.

The point of the task was to learn not just how to negotiate a deal, but how to structure it according to the legal boundaries and rules that need to be followed.  In hindsight, the long hours preparing the legal document helped me learn a lot about some of the things I’d be doing in this department later on.

The weeks are flying past much quicker than I thought and next week the Olympics actually kick off. Better leave the house two hours early.

WEEK ONE:

My first day was somewhat more relaxed than I expected it to be, starting off at 9am with the usual pre-employment checks of I.D. and contracts. The rest of the interns seemed pretty excited to get going. With less than 20 of us in total it made sense for us to get to know each other immediately.

After the initial meet and greet we were whisked away by HR into a room with their training and learning team. None of us actually had any training prior to the internship.

We then carried on to our respective desks and as expected I received a bunch of presentations and graphs that described what the department did and what sort of work to do. At first it all seemed Greek, with acronyms flying all over the place but after reading it over and over (and over) again, it kind of made sense.

My manager then took me for a lunch at an expensive restaurant. This was for the purpose of explaining to me that I’ll be expected to spend a lot of hours in the office and should be ready to learn quickly because various people will be giving me work throughout the ten weeks regardless of what I’m working on at that point in time. Most notably, he kept reiterating how important it is to network and always be at your best behaviour over the whole period. Unexpectedly, I left the office at 7.30pm that night.

Over the next couple of days there were a few networking events with senior staff. The most interesting involved interns, future graduates – i.e. those starting in September – and various heads of departments.

Have I received any work? Well, I was asked to learn how to draft a business credit approval and to read various types of data and graphics and to learn how to interpret them. I ended up staying in the office far later than the sales and trading interns. Notably, however, there were some analysts leaving far, far later than me (2am or 3am on some days.)

On Friday evening I was handed more work after office hours while all the other interns met for drinks but I completed my work and my manager said I could take the rest home over the weekend to complete if I wanted. I happily obliged.

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