My process was a little different from other 1Ls because I wanted to work internationally, specifically in Southeast Asia. I also wanted a lot of client contact and preferred to spend my first summer working for a local organization instead of a large international group like UNICEF. As a result, there aren’t a lot of formal applications or programs for me to apply to. Consequently, finding an internship was a much different processes than applying to be a summer associate at a Chicago firm.
So where to start? I began by reaching out to Professor Geraghty, my professor for Juvenile Justice and Director of the ChildLaw Center, who does a lot of children’s rights work internationally. I asked to meet with her and shared my desire to be back in Southeast Asia, working with girls or moms. Professor Geraghty was able to connect me with ChildLaw Fellow alumi who have worked internationally and also with some contacts she has from working internationally.
I reached out to several, well many of our alumni and every single one of them answered. Most had worked in countries throughout Africa and didn’t have anyone for me to contact who is currently working in Asia. However, they all shared really valuable advice on how they went about finding their international internships.
I really connected with one ChildLaw Fellow alum named Brenda McKinney. When I first reached out to her, she was working at the Whitehouse and now she is doing research with her Fulbright in New Zealand and working on her Masters. In her own words, her research explores, “Restorative Practices within the youth justice system and their impact on racial disparities in the system.” Brenda gave me some great advice, sent me samples of her cover letters to international organizations, and read over my resume to give me feedback.
Next, I emailed everyone Professor Geraghty put me in contact with. Fortunately, as ChildLaw fellow, I receive a summer stipend to remove financial obstacles to serving children. Because of Loyola’s support I wasn’t limited financially in my explorations. So I emailed everyone I could, essentially saying I am passionate about children’s rights, I want to learn about children and the law, and I am free. Eventually, I connected with Heather Goldsmith, a US based attorney working and living in Bangladesh. After sending her a resume and brief statement of interest and a Skype interview, she offered me a position to help her with her research this summer.
My work with Professor Goldsmith will be centered on domestic workers’ rights, who are primarily children. When Bangladesh passed its domestic violence laws, the legislature intentionally omitted violence against workers in the home. As a result, children are often working long hours, living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions, completing grueling labor and being abused. Our research will examine how other countries in Southeast Asia have addressed this issue as a way to open up research and dialogue for solutions in Bangladesh.
Professor Goldsmith was also able to connect me with the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and they hired me on as one of their legal interns. BLAST is a leading non-governmental legal services organization in Bangladesh. It focuses on providing legal support to women, men and children who are living in poverty. It is a great opportunity because the organization provides legal aid, advice and representation in many topics of laws: civil, criminal, family, labor and land law.
Through my time spent at BLAST I will conduct research on existing and proposed legal safeguards and remedies for domestic workers and support advocacy work on protections for Bangladeshi domestic workers at home and abroad, particularly women and children. To help me understand the complexities of these issues, I will also get to attend lectures, workshops and field visits.
My role this summer will be split between two projects and I love it. It is the perfect combination of academic work and social action. In my capacity through BLAST I will be able to have client contact and a social activism component. I will be able to meet and hear the stories of people who are marginalized and are seeking justice. By supporting the Bangladeshi attorneys, I will be able to take actions to make their lives better. In my role as a research assistant, I will be able to learn about legal solutions to domestic violence as it applies to children who work within homes. I will be able to syntheses and analyze what I am witnessing in my role at BLAST. It will give me a space to work on the systematic injustice that is creating discrimination. The duel role is a perfect way for me to approach injustice more holistically.
While a little unconventional and a little longer of a process, I found an internship in my field of interest in the region of the world I love and my flight departs May 15th!