• Role: Easter Patent Internship
  • Location: Southampton
  • University: Southampton
  • Degree: MSc Physics
  • Organisation: D Young & Co

Jessica Steven-Fountain

Why did you choose to do an internship?

The role of a patent attorney is not one that is particularly well known, so when I was considering a career in the profession I didn’t know much about what the job entailed, and I had no idea whether it was something that would suit me. The three day internship offered by D Young & Co gave me the perfect opportunity to find out about the job and interact with both trainees and qualified attorneys to find out whether the job was for me.

How did it fit with your overall career plans?

Like many undergraduate students approaching the end of their studies, I was struggling to choose a career path to follow once I graduated. During my third year at university, I heard about the career of a patent attorney through a careers fair at my university and was intrigued by the role – it seemed a perfect opportunity to apply the skills I’d learned throughout my degree without staying in academia. The internship gave me the perfect opportunity to find out if the career was for me, and to find out a little more about how to get into the profession.

What was the application process like?

The application process for the internship was quite a straightforward one – I sent in a CV along with a cover letter, and shortly afterwards was invited to participate in a brief telephone interview. The interview itself was really a two-way process – a trainee who had previously participated in the internship was involved in the conversation, which gave me the opportunity to ask any questions I had about the profession.

A few days after the phone interview, I was informed that I had been offered a place on the programme, and the rest is history!

The best advice I can give is to do your research – we know you probably don’t know very much about the firm or the profession, but we do want to be able to see that you’re keen! Other than that, I highly recommend you take advantage of the trainee or trainees involved in the telephone interview – regardless of whether or not you are offered a place, there is a lot to be gained from talking to someone who is actually doing the job.

What were your main duties?

The internship offered by D Young & Co is only three days long, but answered a lot of my questions about the profession. The aim of the internship is to give you an idea of the skills required to become a good patent attorney, and to give you the chance to interact with attorneys at all levels – from partners to trainees – to find out from them what the job involves (and what they really think about it!).

Throughout the three days, the interns participated in a number of activities, from mock hearings to written activities such as drafting claims for a patent application. We also received a number of informative talks about the career, and were invited to a number of social events after work to give us the opportunity to mingle with attorneys and trainees.

What were the most important things you learned from the internship?

By far the most important thing I learned from the internship was that the people with whom I would be working if I got a job as a trainee were the kind of people I would enjoy spending time with. That might seem silly, but ultimately how you interact with your colleagues makes a huge impact on whether or not you enjoy your career, so it really is important! And that isn’t specific to any one firm either – patent attorneys are very social creatures (despite our tendency to be introverts), so if you do follow this career, you will see the people you meet on the internship at many a social event in the future!

But beyond that, I learned that the job is varied and challenging – I returned home exhausted every evening from the mental effort required to accomplish some of the tasks, but it was a fantastic feeling. I knew that I’d never get bored in this job!

Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?

My main advice would be to make the most of the application process. Through interviews, you’ll likely get the opportunity to interact with attorneys and trainees, so be sure to ask them about the career while you have the chance!

Look around. The D Young & Co internship was advertised on the firm’s website and on the IP Careers website, so I was able to find it with a limited amount of Googling.

Also, don’t give up! We get a lot of applications and have to turn away plenty of good candidates, but that doesn’t stop the keenest candidates reapplying the next year and sometimes being offered a place!

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