Work experience is an optional activity offered in year 10 and above to allow students to experience being in a work environment. You can work anywhere you want, provided the business is happy to accomodate you, and I decided to work at an environmental and planning law firm. If you haven’t looked at my ‘About Me‘ section recently you probably aren’t aware that instead of being an actor when I grow up, I want to be an environmental lawyer so I thought an environmental and planning law firm would be the perfect place for me to attend work experience.
Once the firm had allowed me to attend work experience with them, I needed to buy a smart business attire outfit for the week. I ended up buying a white blouse, black pants / blazer /shoes . I accompanied this with a black binder and a black handbag I already owned (from Equip).
Monday was my first day and they told me it was customary to arrive later on your first day so I arrived at 10:30am. I left my house at 8:40am to get to the train station at 9:10am for the 9:16am train to the city. I got to the city by about 10am which left me half an hour to find the place, as even though the train station was on the same street as the firm, I needed to figure out which way to go up the street.
Once I found the building, I got a keycard and swiped in, before going in the lift and walking to their suite where I was instantly greeted by the assistant manager who I had been contacting via email prior to attending work experience. He showed me the desk that had been set up for me, where I put my belongings on, and introduced me to all the employees at the firm that were in today. I then attended an induction so I knew where everything was and what to do in an emergency which really helped me get a feel for the place.
Throughout the day I was given a variety of administrative tasks to complete such as filing, sending/receiving mail and creating tables on Word. Unfortunately there were no court hearings or conferences to attend but I was assured that there would be some later in the week. Even though these tasks are usually seen as boring, I found them quite interesting as it allowed me to truly feel what being part of a business was about.
On Tuesday, unfortunately I was sick with the flu so I wasn’t able to attend work experience, as it was better to take the day off and get fully better rather than feeling somewhat sick for the rest of the week, as well as not spreading it to all the employees.
Wednesday was nothing special, just more administrative tasks and helping out around the office but it was all a good learning experience.
On Thursday, I went with one of the partners to a Section 34 conciliation conference in Blacktown which is basically a less argumentative version of a court hearing as the parties want to calmly sort out the problem, if possible. In this case, a new shopping centre was to be built and the firm was representing the council to make sure that the building had all the necessary requirements to function and didn’t have any problems for the surrounding areas. There was a site inspection, where we walked around the proposed building land and any objectors stated their problems with the shopping centre if it was built, and then a meeting at the council to solve all the problems the council and objectors had with it. In the end, the parties came to an agreement, meaning that the case didn’t have to go to court. Overall it was very interesting to see the role of a lawyer in a case and I learned a lot.
On Friday, I attended a Notice of Motion at the Land and Environment Court, which is where a lawyer asks a registrar for a specific action, in this case for more time to spend on a case. I watched a few more after the lawyer from the firm had finished his Notice of Motion, which were about organising specific dates for court hearings and other legal events which was useful to know considering I want to be an environmental lawyer. For the rest of the day I completed more administrative tasks and before I knew it, it was time to leave. I said goodbye and thank you to everyone and they kindly gave me some chocolates and a branded umbrella.
Overall I had an amazing time at work experience and learnt so much about law firms and the workplace in general. I definitely would recommend attending work experience if you have the opportunity to as it is a great experience and really worth your time.