Finding My Niche, Making Dreams a Reality with OU Law: My Experiences Interning in Nigeria!

September 17, 2013 | By Chinyere Kim Ikegbunam, JD Candidate 2015

I was initially attracted to OU Law because of its strong relations and expertise in the oil and gas and energy fields. Since I was a kid, I have always wanted to be involved in the industry, particularly back in my native country of Nigeria.

In the midst of all of the stress and confusion of my 1L year, getting my foot in the door of any firm or company in Nigeria was no easy task. Fortunately for me, the deans, my faculty advisors, and of course the Office of Career Services were there to offer guidance and support every step of the way.  By the end of the semester, I actually had given up on working in Nigeria and had my summer plans completely solidified when I finally received an offer in the middle of May—eight months after I initially applied. I was able to restructure my plans and bought my ticket for Nigeria as soon as I heard the news.

This summer was the first step in making my dreams a reality. I spent the second half of my summer interning in the legal division of the National Investment Petroleum Management Division (NAPIMS) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

All mineral resources in Nigeria are owned by the Nigerian Government, which means any company that wants to drill in Nigeria must go through the NNPC, which monitors and regulates production of International and Indigenous Oil Companies.

As a legal intern with the NNPC, I worked under a Senior Legal Analyst who also served as my lecturer and mentor during the time I was there. One thing I really valued about my experience was that I was able to learn as I worked. I knew little to nothing about the industry going into it, and left with a thorough understanding of all that I was exposed to, but more importantly a very strong desire to learn more.

The experience was also great because the attorneys treated me like family and made every effort to make sure I was involved in the various projects and negotiations taking place. I spent most of the summer researching, revising agreements, and sitting in on meetings with International Oil Companies.

Working at the NNPC was a huge “coming of age” moment for me. Although my family is Nigerian and visits frequently, this past summer was the first time I had ever lived in Nigeria, or any foreign country on my own. After all that I experienced in Lagos, it felt great to come back to America knowing I could make it in Nigeria on my own.

As I am sure most law students can attest, the first year of law school can be very challenging. However, after getting a few classes under my belt and working this summer, things seem to finally be coming together. Fortunately for me, I get to further my interest in energy law here at OU. It may have been a long time coming, but I think I finally found my law school niche, and I cannot wait to use what I have learned here in practice! 

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