A successful externship has given Jennifer Bauer a support system to explore a future full of possibilities.
For 10 weeks last summer, the WVU Law 3L was among a cadre of elite externs at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, DC. She worked alongside law, business and cyber security students from schools such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown, Northwestern, the University of Florida and Vanderbilt.
Bauer was the only law student working for the General Counsel in the SEC’s Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations (OCIE), but she shared office space with 13 other externs.
This group soon became close knit and brought varying educational and professional backgrounds, stories and advice to the workplace, according to Bauer.
“We were great sounding boards for each other, especially among the other law students,” she said.
Together, the externs organized an independent mentorship program among themselves to learn from each other as they completed their daily work. They formed their own mini workshops focused on things like cover letter and resume writing. They even reached out to SEC staff to arrange informal lectures for small groups interested in a particular subject outside of their scheduled programming.
Bauer met three interns at the SEC who previously worked for financial firms on Wall Street. This was very similar to her own experience of working with risk and compliance at JP Morgan for four years before law school.
“We were able to trade stories and really connect over what we had experienced on the private side as professionals before coming to school, and what we hope to do differently in the future,” she said. “It’s helped inspire me to keep forging my own path and be persistent in pursuing what I’m passionate about.”
The SEC staff also met candidly with Bauer and the other externs to discuss their career aspirations and help them develop a game plan moving forward. They did not focus on setting a distinct career path, but instead on looking at what for students can pursue after graduation.
Getting an opportunity to hear from more experienced attorneys was especially helpful, Bauer said.
“What they found important and which order they would do it again if they could was so valuable. Whether they would do an LL.M. or get a private certification or do a clerkship or just go straight into working for a firm and then move into the public sector or vice versa. There are so many variables, that it can be helpful to hear from someone who has experienced a number of them to figure out what might be best for you.”
Bauer finished her externship with a renewed desire to explore the options in her future and pursue a variety of opportunities that may come her way.
As she began her final year of law school, Bauer kept that energy and focus to pursue unknown opportunities by applying for fellowships and to firms, LL.M. programs and Ph.D. programs that will fulfill her passion of practicing law in data privacy and regulation and financial regulation.
“I’m not exactly sure where I’m going to end up yet, but I’m happy about having something that I can go after,” Bauer explained.
“One of the most valuable things I took away from this summer is that there are a lot of people out there who want to see you be successful and want to see externs be successful, and whether they’re your peers or attorneys you meet along the way, it’s fabulous to have that support system."
Taking in a Nationals game is one of the perks of being an extern in Washington, D.C.