I started my sophomore year of college as a directionless college athlete who didn’t think about her future. My peers always supported this, saying, “You’re so young,” and, “You have so much time to figure your life out.” I let these thoughts dictate my actions, and soon enough, athletics was my only distinguishing characteristic trait. I was driven, of course. Every student athlete is driven to excel. But I wondered, how can you be driven without a direction?
The short answer is— you can’t. But of course, it’s extremely hard to find the right path. As much as I wish this blog was going to be a transformative, heartfelt tale of self-discovery and success, I don’t want you to get your hopes up. This is a real story: an ongoing occurrence in my life. There’s no major tragedy or triumph, but instead, a simple story.
Due to COVID-19, my tennis season was cut short, and we didn’t get to compete in the conference tournament. This season was my whole life. Every waking moment that I wasn’t studying or in class, I was out on the courts. I sacrificed spending time with my friends, a normal sleep schedule, and any free time. When our season was cancelled, it felt like I had nothing left. Tennis courts shut down, classes moved online, and I was uninspired and defeated.
It took me a whole month to get back to normalcy—a month to be able to get out of bed and start to feel whole again. I got up one day and decided I needed restoration and balance. It was a sudden feeling, a drive to do something more than let life pass me by. I put tennis to the side and focused on something long overdue—my future. One month later, I began my internship at Ckezepis Law, PLLC. Over the course of eight weeks, I worked around 200 hours, and learned the power of immersion.
To me, the idea of immersion is about engagement and involvement. It is built on the premise of trying something before making any judgements. To be immersed is to work your hardest and do your best on every given task. This was my mindset while at the firm. Trust me, some days were a struggle, but most days made the menial work worth it. Within the firm, there are three main divisions: the attorney side, the paralegal side, and the business side. While all three groups effortlessly communicate with one another and heavily rely on their interconnectedness, they all have specific roles.
The attorney side is a lot of contractual work and in-person interactions with clients for closings. Every day, our firm either had refinances or sellers/buyers coming in to sign final documents. I had the opportunity to shadow during these appointments. Beyond an increase in my knowledge in real estate law, I learned that I enjoyed these interactions with people. This was a recurring feeling for me, showing me that I want a job where I can help people. Real estate law tends to be non-adversarial because of the direct nature of contracts, but of course there are exceptions. Regardless, I liked meeting new people and seeing an array of different backgrounds and hearing their stories.
The paralegal side acts as the support system to the attorney. They prepare documents and help clients answer questions. They tirelessly work to make sure the office runs smoothly. At this firm, there was a lot of over-the-phone interaction. While I didn’t enjoy this form of communication as much, I respect the thorough communication and anticipatory skills of every paralegal. Their ability to problem-solve and work with the attorneys is unparalleled.
Lastly is typically the most forgotten: the business part of it. A firm cannot flourish and reach its maximum potential without a business strategy. During my time at the firm, I sat in on meetings, watched testimonials be filmed, helped with marketing, and of course, wrote this blog series, The Intern Voice. The meetings recapped the financial growth of the firm. The testimonials and marketing drew in more business and spread the Ckezepis name through the greater Charlotte area. The blog series catered to the growth of online social media in an attempt to reach a more widespread audience.
Since today is my final day, I’m using the opportunity to reflect on my experience. While I may not know exactly what I want to do with my future, this internship gave me insight into what I want for my career. I need a job where I can help people and creatively think of solutions to their problems. I strive to maintain my positive attitude and balanced lifestyle even after returning to my university. So even if I don’t have my future planned perfectly, I still found my direction—overcoming adversity and positively impacting the world one job at a time.