Good advice

Chipo C. Nyambuya helps students navigate their many options to gain live-client experience 

At Loyola University Chicago School of Law, students complete six credit hours of experiential learning, three of which must be live-client experience, and those can be obtained through externships, practica, and/or clinics. As the School of Law’s director of experiential programming and professional development, Chipo C. Nyambuya scouts externship opportunities and advises students on how to navigate their many options. Here, she offers three tips to help students make the most of these professional opportunities.

Take time to explore

“Loyola’s program, unlike many other schools, is really robust,” Nyambuya says. “We provide opportunities across a wide range of practice areas, and students have a plethora of choices to explore. Students can become paralyzed by choice, and they’re anxious.

“Instead of being paralyzed by choice, I say, ‘Recognize that you have a buffet of experiential learning options and that your experiential learning requirements afford you the opportunity to really explore and assess,’ particularly if you’re a 2L. Much of my advice is in helping students navigate their uncertainty, their anxieties, their fears, around choosing opportunities.”

“Much of my advice is in helping students navigate their uncertainty, their anxieties, their fears, around choosing opportunities." 

Be true to yourself 

Nyambuya says that some students struggle with pursuing a specific career direction. For example, a student who’d gained significant experience in judicial roles expressed an interest in becoming a prosecutor but wasn’t sure if she should change direction. Nyambuya encouraged her to apply for externships in state’s attorney’s offices, where she could gain prosecutorial experience while still in school.

“There could come a point where you’ve done something because you’ve always thought that you should, and you will resent it,” she says. “And that’s a disservice to everybody you know, starting with yourself. Some students will tell themselves, ‘I’ll do this because I don’t know what else to do or because I’m fearful of exploring, of the unknown of exploring.’ I tell them that this is the safest environment for you to explore, to experiment.”

Make the most of virtual meetings 

“Pre-pandemic, when a student dropped into my office, they had an agenda in mind, or a question,” Nyambuya says. “Now via video calls, we both have to be intentional about our engagement and communication with each other. It’s not only more time but more intentional, quality time with students. And because we’re in a pandemic, I also get to ask, ‘How are you doing?’ We’ve had to slow, stop, think, and be intentional about how we’re going to go forward.”

–Kristi Turnbaugh    


At Loyola we link classroom study with hands-on experience, inspired by the Jesuit philosophy of service to others. Through our clinical programs that serve Chicago’s most vulnerable populations to our wide-variety of externship options, Loyola graduates are practice-ready and in-demand upon graduation Learn More