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  • Name: Tom Bell Bell
  • Job Title: Intern
  • University: Southampton
  • Degree: MEng Electronic Engineering

Why did you choose to do an internship?

For quite a bit of my final year at university I was still unsure as to what profession I should move into and where I should begin my career. I wanted to be working in technology, but wasn’t completely sold on the idea of becoming an engineer.

The main reason I chose to do an internship at D Young & Co. was to help me understand how a career in Intellectual Property Law would pan out and whether or not it was for me. At that stage, I knew the basics of what a patent was, but had little idea as to what a career as a patent attorney would look like. The short Easter Internship that they offer seemed like the ideal opportunity to dip my toe in the water before committing myself to a career as a patent attorney.

How did it tie in with your overall career plans?

For me in particular, this internship was pivotal in helping me decide how to set out after university. There were a range of career directions I was considering and I had no idea how to choose between them. As I look back a couple of years later, I consider the Easter Internship to be the decisive point at which I became confident that I was well-suited to a career in IP, so I am really pleased I had that opportunity.

What was the application process like?

The application process was very straightforward. After hearing about it through my university, I submitted a detailed CV as well as a cover letter in which I set out why I was applying. I was then asked to attend a brief phone interview with the recruitment team and received an invitation to come to the internship a few days later.
The Easter Internship is advertised on the D Young & Co. and IP Careers websites from September, so I would suggest making note of that in your calendar. It’s worth spending a fair amount of time perfecting your CV and making sure your application is submitted in advance. You’ll also want to spend at least 15 minutes researching a bit about the firm so you don’t embarrass yourself during the phone interview!

Since this internship runs during the Easter university holidays, it’s really easy to attend and shouldn’t interfere with revision or your summer plans. It may even lead on to the paid summer internship that same year.

What attracted you to your role?

What I find most exciting and interesting about training as a patent attorney is that you consistently work at the focal point of the overlap between technology, critical thinking, language, business and law. As such, it’s a hugely varied role in its demands on the individual and the opportunities to develop as a highly-qualified and well-rounded professional are considerable.

Even before applying to the internship these factors were attractive to me, however through speaking to several of the existing Trainee Patent Attorneys I had a clear sense that I would mould to the role well.

What were your main duties?

The internship – at only three days long – is intentionally very short, so it isn’t designed to give the intern a first-person experience of life as a Trainee Patent Attorney. Instead, the schedule was jam packed with a range of interesting talks, interactive seminars and challenges, as well as social events.

What skills did you acquire or improve during your internship?

I was amazed at how many skills I was able to develop in such a short space of time. Probably the most valuable was my ability to clearly articulate and reason a point of view in public. Throughout the preparation and participation in one activity in particular, I became a much more confident communicator and developed my ability to argue a complex technical point persuasively. I was also able to begin to acquire the skills of claim drafting and amendment, as well as how to get a patent application granted.

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

The most valuable thing I gained was the confidence to take my journey into the profession forward and I think that was through experiencing the skills and expertise that it would involve. I also learned the basics of what a patent is, the process of acquiring one and how to maximise the amount of protection it confers to the owner. We were also given an overview of the process to full qualification as a Chartered UK Patent Attorney and European Patent Attorney which helped to cement in my mind the roadmap ahead.

Do you have any advice for someone seeking an internship?

If you have a technical or a scientific background and enjoy critical thinking and using language too, a career as a patent attorney is without a doubt a path you should consider and actively look into. Your time at university and the early years of your career are almost always the most formative in terms of your future, so it really is worth taking your gaze away from your studies now and again to think carefully about work and how to make the right choices early on.

That will almost always mean seeking out internship opportunities where you can find them, and since the Easter Internship at D Young & Co. is so accessible, it’s definitely one to bear in mind. If nothing else, you’ll have the peace of mind that working in Patent Law is not what you’re looking for. Equally however, don’t be surprised if you find yourself becoming confident that it’s the perfect career choice for you!

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