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An Interview with a CEA CAPA Student on Their Internship Abroad in London's Legal Sector

July 05, 2023
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
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Grace in Chinatown

Interviewing a CEA CAPA Student on Their Internship Abroad in London's Legal Sector

CEA CAPA interviewed Grace Wurzer, CEA CAPA London alum and Ursinus College student, on her internship experience abroad with Nucleus Legal Advice Centre.

Q: Please tell us about yourself. 

Grace Wurzer: My name is Grace Wurzer, and I’m an English and History double major at Ursinus College with a minor in Science and the Common Good! I’m currently a junior and plan on applying to law schools in the fall, which is super exciting. I’m from Ocean City, New Jersey (which reigns supreme over Ocean City, Maryland), and when I’m not in class or working I love to work out, take photos, bake, and spend time with my friends and family. 

Q: Why did you choose to study abroad, and why did you choose London specifically? 

Wurzer: I’ve known since high school that I wanted to study abroad, and it was one of the things I looked for when applying to colleges. Firstly, I love exploring new places, and I knew that there'd be no better way to really explore a new city than to move there for a semester! I also knew I wanted a different living experience from anything I've had before—I grew up in a small town, and attend college in a suburb of Philadelphia, so I've never lived anywhere like London before. I chose a CEA CAPA study abroad program in London because it was a big city with so much history (and literature!) which really connected me to my studies. My mom was also born in England, and I have family there, so I found it to be a really cool and unique way to connect with my roots.

 

Modern buildings in London skyline

Q: Tell us a bit about your academics in London. Which classes are you taking? How have you been able to connect your academics with your experience of the city itself? 

Wurzer: I'm currently enrolled in three classes: Islam, Politics and Britain: A Case Study of London’s East End; Shakespeare in London, and Britain in the Twentieth Century. All three allow me to explore London through a different lens, so whether it be political, literary, or historical, I’m constantly learning about new layers of the city that connect directly with my majors. I love how CEA CAPA has organized the field studies and excursions so that I'm not only learning about the city through these three lenses but exploring and engaging with it actively both in and out of class.

students on stairs at museum

Q: Why did you decide to do an internship while abroad? 

Wurzer: I found the opportunity to intern abroad to be really unique, and something that I definitely wanted to explore. I’ve had a few internships at home regarding law, but in terms of law abroad, I had absolutely no experience. Considering that the law in the U.S. is largely based on the law in England, as we were once their colony, I felt that it might be useful to study English law and compare it to my experiences working in American legal offices. Furthermore, I wanted to try something different and hopefully gain useful working experience! 

Q: Tell us a bit about your internship placement, and what your day-to-day role looks like. 

Wurzer: My internship abroad is at Nucleus Legal Advice Centre, a housing, debt, and employment pro bono legal advice clinic located in the London neighborhood of Ealing. Many people in London are currently struggling with the housing and employment crisis, leaving many of them out of work and even homeless. Nucleus works to provide them with free legal guidance so that they can secure temporary or permanent accommodation, properly advocate for themselves to employers, and secure benefits.  

 

Every morning I’d arrive at 9 a.m. and was often the first employee to arrive—this gave me time to switch out the sign-in sheets for employees, clients, and contractors. I then made sure that the workstations were as they should be and set up the waiting area. I greeted every employee and made sure I knew who was in for the day, and then I responded to all the emails we received the previous night. Then I’d check the appointment book, as well as all our communication channels, and write it down in my diary to have an idea of what to expect that day.  

Around 9:30 a.m. clients would start to arrive, and from there the day would vary as to what I would do. Between directing clients and managing drop-ins, I also answered the phone and attempted to provide advice that didn’t need solicitors. For drop-in clients, I directed them on how to either make an appointment or let them know of other services that could help their situation. 

students smiling at beach

Q: In January, you were named “Volunteer of the Month” at your internship. Congratulations! What was this experience like? 

Wurzer: Thank you! My experience interning abroad taught me patience and perseverance. Oftentimes, clients are frustrated due to the extraordinary situations they find themselves in—I cannot imagine how scary it must be to face unemployment or eviction. However, this means that they were often stressed and took it out on me, as I was the first person they interacted with. They would often yell at me or insult me, but I realized that this was due to frustrations with their situation, not with me as a person. It was disheartening when we couldn’t help them, or their issues were outside our scope of law, however it made the days when I could help a client extremely rewarding. Throughout my time at Nucleus, I’d say that I definitely found myself more willing to ask for respect and learned how to sustain a difficult and frustrating day. The good days at Nucleus—which come much more often than the challenging ones—were extremely rewarding. 

Friends smiling in front of buildings

 

Q: Do you have any advice for future interns? 

Wurzer: I’d say to definitely ask for help! When I first started and was preparing for an internship abroad, I worried that asking questions would bother my coworkers, who had more important work to complete. They themselves were often stressed and overburdened, and I felt bad asking for advice. However, this created two problems. Firstly, my mistakes meant that they only became more stressed and overburdened! I also realized that a lot of the stresses of the job became easily fixable once I asked someone who had been there longer how to complete a task or do something new. It’s completely okay to not know how to do something at your internship—they expect it! Ask questions and make it clear when you are unsure how to complete a task or do something that is expected of you, as it will make your life, and your coworkers’, a lot easier. I also found that once I started to ask for help, I appeared a lot more engaged in my internship, even though my level of interest remained consistent. I started to receive a lot more tasks and interesting, deeper assignments, as I demonstrated an interest in the role! 

 

Q: What are your future plans? 

Wurzer: This summer, I plan to study for the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and begin an internship at my local government’s office. Then, I’ll apply to law schools in October! Outside of academics and work, I’ll hopefully get to travel—study abroad has awoken a real sense of adventure in me that I hope to foster for the rest of my life. I’ve made some great friends here and hope to visit them over the summer, and I cannot wait to share all my stories from abroad with my friends and family back home! 

student posing in front of Chinatown crowd


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