GTWT Participant Gains Work Experience and Inspiration

Elsie Varela, Senior, Bravo Medical Magnet, shares her story of her first professional work experience.

This summer I not only received a paycheck, but I had the opportunity to work in a professional setting for the first time.  GTWT connected me with the Constitutional Rights Foundation Expanding Horizons program, and I had the privilege of working as an intern at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld law firm.  I did a wide variety of tasks while I was at Akin Gump, from making copies and scanning important documents to running errands and making conference reservations. I learned a lot about how a law firm works but most importantly I learned a lot about myself.

Akin Gump is located in Century City so I knew simply getting there gave me new experiences.  Every day I had a one hour commute to work and back home.  I would spend over half my day away from home and it was that fact that made me realize how hard my own parents have worked and how difficult it is to have a full-time job.

Nonetheless, the small sacrifices were worth it.   Every day I came into a friendly atmosphere. I was able to work closely with attorneys, paralegals and managers of the different departments within a law firm.  It was overwhelming and intimidating at first since I had never been around so many professional people.  Everything was so polished and new; it seemed to be the type of building that only comes out in movies and magazines. I got to use a special ID card in order to get access to the all office rooms. I got to feel important; no one had given me that amount of trust before. Working at Akin Gump made me grow not only as a student, but also as a person.

Elsie is currently applying to college and dreams of attending Scripps College, or going out of state to Northwestern University in the Fall.