Internship at Budapest law firm gives business student international perspective

Quinnipiac University senior Kendall Hodgkins has always been interested in doing a semester abroad, but couldn’t find time in her academic schedule. So when her adviser told her about a summer internship at a Chinese law firm based in Budapest, Hungary, she jumped at the chance.

“It’s the best experience I’ve ever had. Everyone is really great,” said Hodgkins, an economics major.

Hodgkins is spending her summer as an intern for the Yingke Varnai Law Firm, which was established in September 2010 through the partnership between the Beijing-based Yingke Law Firm and the Hungarian Varnai & Partners Law Firm. The Budapest office serves as the European headquarters. Hodgkins is the firm’s first international intern.

Christopher Ball, the István Széchenyi Chair in International Economics in the Quinnipiac University School of Business, arranged the internship at the firm, where Quinnipiac alumna Stefanie Sauska is head of international development. Sauska is leading the firm’s expansion by searching for and working with potential partners in the surrounding countries and help with the development of the network at large. The firm is planning to open numerous branches across Europe in the coming years. Sauska is Hodgkins’ supervisor and mentor at the firm.

For Hodgkins, it’s a chance to experience living a foreign city, meet students from around the world and learn new skills. One of her main projects at the firm is to proofread and edit contracts written by Hungarian attorneys in English. She’s excited to be working on serious projects and enjoys collaborating with attorneys at the firm. “I’m really involved – it’s great,” she says.

It’s a unique opportunity for an undergraduate student. “Travelling abroad to work in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language is extremely challenging for anyone. The personal development one gets from doing this as an undergraduate pays hugely over time in terms of self-confidence and independence. It really opens their eyes to how wide open the world is to them,” said Ball.

“I deeply respect Kendall for taking on this challenge and I have no doubt that it’ll benefit her greatly, both personally and professionally,” Ball added.

Outside of work, Hodgkins has been able to travel to Vienna and to the countryside outside Budapest. Living in a college dorm that converts to a youth hostel in the summer months, she’s met students from around the globe.

Of course, living abroad also has its challenges. When she first arrived, navigating the public transportation system presented a major obstacle. On her first day of work, she took the wrong train, a mistake which turned a 45-minute commute into three hours. “Getting lost helps you understand where you are better,” Hodgkins explains. “Now it’s second nature to me.”

Hodgkins says working at the firm has increased her interest in pursuing law school after she graduates from Quinnipiac in May.

Categories: School of Business and Engineering

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