Intern Turned Prosecutor: How My Internship at the DA’s Office Led to a Career

Intern Turned Prosecutor: How My Internship at the DA’s Office Led to a CareerThis week we welcome guest writer and Law School Toolbox tutor, Sara Beller, to discuss how she turned an internship in the DA’s office into a career.

By the end of my internship at the DA’s office, I felt like a full-blown prosecutor. As an intern, I conducted numerous preliminary hearings, drafted and argued countless motions in court, and even completed a real jury trial from start to finish (by myself!). Everything was going according to plan, and I was about to receive a snazzy job offer…or so I thought.

I’ll never forget the day a supervising attorney told me that the office wasn’t able to make any job offers because the county was in a hiring freeze. To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. My Type-A brain went into immediate panic mode. Did all of my hard work go to waste? Should I have invested my time at a private firm instead? Was it a mistake to put all of my eggs into the DA office’s basket? The short answer is absolutely not. Here’s how my internship led to a career as a prosecutor:

I Worked Hard

No matter what Elle Woods tries to tell you, law school is very, very hard. Now add in a near-fulltime internship at the DA’s office during my 3L year. Crazy right? I agree. But this internship was my chance to land my dream job offer, and I wasn’t about to waste it.

I showed up early, dressed to impress, with a smile on my face. Every day. I went door-to-door asking the attorneys I worked with if they had any assignments for me. When an attorney assigned me a task, I asked questions to make sure I understood what was expected. If the assignment was due in five days, I submitted it in four. After I completed an assignment, I always asked the attorney if they had time for feedback. I used their feedback to make sure every assignment was better than the last.

Before long, supervising attorneys were singing my praises. When the attorneys had an assignment, they asked for me by name. I was getting the best experience and loving every minute of it. I felt like a prosecutor.

There was just one problem, I was still in law school. A fulltime 3L to be exact. While I was grinding ay my internship, my class assignments and readings were stacking up. So, how was I able to balance my last year of law school and a demanding internship?

I Managed my Time

If you’re in law school right now, you’ve probably figured out that time management is key.

I, for one, didn’t realize just how important time management was until my internship at the DA’s office. Between keeping up with the reading for my classes, outlining and practice essays, assignments for my internship, and trying to find time to eat and sleep, I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I couldn’t keep all of my plates spinning. But I also knew I wanted to be a prosecutor. I knew I wanted to work in this specific office. And, most importantly, I knew I needed to pass my classes to make that happen.

So, I went back to the basics. I bought a weekly calendar and started blocking off my time. Missing my classes was not an option, so I started there. I looked at the upcoming week and blocked off the times I had class every day. Once my classes were on the calendar, I blocked off the times I needed to be at my internship. I still needed to find time to do the readings for my classes. I looked at my calendar and noticed the weekend days were still blank – a match made in heaven!

As time went on, I started calendaring more blocks of time. When I saw an opening of time to work on my outlines – boom, it went on the calendar. Office hours I needed to attend? It went on the calendar. I stuck to my schedule every week. I started realizing that the more “must-do’s” I had on my calendar, the less overwhelmed I felt. I was finishing the readings for every class before the week even started. I was updating my outlines every week. I was finishing assignments for my internship well before they were due. I wasn’t just surviving, I was thriving.

But, despite how hard I worked and how well I managed my time, I still wasn’t offered a job at the of my internship. How did I ultimately get that life-changing phone call?

I made Connections

I treated every day at my internship like a networking event. I talked to the attorneys in my office every chance I had. At first, I asked pretty surface-level questions. What led them to the DA’s office? Did they have any advice for a law student hoping to be a prosecutor? Asking these questions eventually led to meaningful conversations about life, the law, and everything in between.

Before I knew it, I was “one of the gang.” The attorneys I worked with considered me part of their team. Part of their community. When I told the attorneys that the office wasn’t making any job offers, they were just as devastated as I was. “Eventually,” they said. Eventually the DA’s office will have a job opening with my name on it. But in the meantime, they told me to keep my head held high, keep working hard, and go pass the bar exam. So, I did.

Soon after I passed the bar, my phone rang. It was one of the attorneys that mentored me at the DA’s office. “We’re hiring,” she said. “Go apply now.” My heart jumped. This was it! I raced to my computer and submitted my application as fast as I could.

Just a few days later, I got a call asking when I could come in for an interview. I sailed through my interviews with ease. Why? The interviewers were the supervisors I worked with as an intern. They didn’t ask me about my qualifications because they watched me earn every single one. They didn’t ask about my work ethic because they knew it was unmatched.

And the rest is history! I’m now a career prosecutor at the same office where I did my internship all those years ago. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was laying the foundation for that job offer every day as an intern.

I always knew I wanted to be a prosecutor. My internship at the DA’s office taught me how to be one. And landed me my dream job in the process.


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About Sara Beller

Sara earned her J.D. from Western State University College of Law in 2016. During her time in law school, she served as a member of the Law Review and was consistently at the top of her class. She also worked as a Dean’s Fellow, which allowed her to tutor and mentor other law students.
Sara passed the California Bar Exam in 2017 on her first attempt. Immediately after passing the bar, she started working as a Deputy District Attorney and has loved every minute. She has also taught Intro to Legal Methods as an adjunct professor.
In her spare time, Sara enjoys spending time with her family and live music.

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