Disability doesn’t get in the way of a career: Reflections on a Stepping Into internship

Sun 22 February 2015

Jean-Paul Baumgartner participated in AND’s Stepping Into internship program as a young law student, undertaking a placement at leading legal firm Freehills Herbert Smith. Jean-Paul now works at a major government department, and he reflects on his Stepping Into internship experience.

“I took the internship as a way of developing my professional skills, improving my resume, and experiencing the corporate law environment and culture. The application process allowed me to pull together a resume under the guidance of the Australian Network on Disability (AND) team, and gave me valuable interview experience before applying for corporate law clerkship and Commonwealth government graduate programs. 

“During the program I was offered a range of professional opportunities. The most exciting of these involved providing my supervising partner with initial research and advice on a piece of litigation worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The research was required to be of the standard of a graduate solicitor, and had a real and direct impact on the conduct of the case.

Jean Paul Baumgartner

“Looking back on the internship, the most important thing I learnt is that my disability was not something that stood in the way of my developing a professional career, but was a component of my life which required integration and management within my career. This was an important realisation which gave me the confidence to undertake paralegal and professional internships during university, and to gain full time work after university. It also provided me with legal experience within the corporate law context, and the opportunity to hone my legal skills, and gain confidence in using them.

“Longer term, the internship significantly improved my resume, providing both a valuable addition to my work history, and experiences to draw on during subsequent clerkship and graduate interview and recruitment processes.  I now have the good fortune to work within a prestigious Australian Government Department, where I actively use my legal skills and knowledge to assist in creating  justice related policy and law reform.

“As an AND Alumni, I am now giving back to the program, assisting to mentor interns placed within the Australian Government. This is an opportunity which I feel to be of value to the interns themselves, and which assists me to develop my professional skills by supporting other young professionals to achieve their goal."    

For more information on Stepping Into, please contact Program Manager Stephanie Littlewood at stephanie.littlewood@and.org.au or 02 8270 9200.

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