For the Love of Law

By: Panchami Bhat & Tamara Orozco 

With a first professional job or internship comes skill-building, confidence, and according to Emma Nakayoshi, the opportunity to apply what you’ve learned in school to the real world.

Emma joined United Way Bay Area’s youth employment program, MatchBridge because she says she was in a “rut.” Through MatchBridge, youth gain exposure to careers and a vision for a positive future. Through the program, Emma found an internship with the law firm, Reed Smith, LLP.

“Working with Reed Smith has been a dream because I want to be a lawyer,” she said. “Being around attorneys all day, talking to them and getting to know them is great. Attorneys telling me that they will be able to help me in the future has been the most practical benefit. And I’m getting an inside view of what they do.”

Emma previously had no exposure to the legal field and through her internship she has been able to gain clarity on her professional path. “I personally want to work in human rights law, and working at an international business law firm has really opened up this world to me. I lucked out in getting the perfect match for my internship.”

The most valuable thing Emma said she gained through MatchBridge are the connections, the camaraderie with other interns, and the professional skills, like communication and learning how to follow-up with people–skills that can be applied to any job. She said that she’s also grown on a personal level.

“It’s been amazing because I was in this period where I was very unhappy because I really wanted to put everything I was learning in school to the test. I just didn’t know what opportunities were out there, and to finally get to a place where I can put those skills to use, that sense of accomplishment has meant so much to me personally. I just feel so much happier.”

And her happiness shows.

Emma’s performance throughout the program was exemplary. UWBA’s Business Pathways Program Specialist, Brianna McDonough said, “When I first met Emma I was so impressed with her poise, maturity, and professionalism. She was so appreciative of the opportunity to intern at Reed Smith but she really earned that opportunity herself and made the very most of it. In our weekly professional development seminars, I could always rely on Emma to be attentive, respectful and engaged; she was a role model to her peers.”

Emma’s internship with Reed Smith was such a great fit that they offered her a job. She is also currently a third-year student at City College of San Francisco, and plans on transferring to a four-year university next year.

Last year, MatchBridge placed 7,000+ youth like Emma in jobs and internships through San Francisco Youth Jobs+, a partnership with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office.

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