Monday, April 20, 2009

tips of the day - getting ready for summer

Ok, so let's say you are a 2L who has a summer associate job and will be starting next month (c'mon, I know there are a few of you out there). There's a couple of more minor seeming, but important points, I wanted to make.

First, try to take care of any necessary appointments (drs., etc) before you start. Your time at the firm is short - in many cases shorter than in past summers - it will not be viewed favorably if you ask for a day off or half the day to take care of routine things. Of course, if you had an emergency, that would be another thing.

Second (and I know I mentioned this early on in the blog), plan on staying at work all day. What I mean is that you shouldn't ask to leave early for "minor" things such as picking up a friend at the airport, getting to the grocery before your out of town friends arrive, etc. Same point as above, you are at the firm a short time, so put in regular days. You may say this sounds silly, but I and others have had people come to us for these exact reasons and want to leave work early.

Third, check in with the recruiting coordinator and go over start dates, end dates, and first day procedures so you have everything down and there is no confusion. You will likely need identification to establish work eligibility (e.g., social security card/driver's license). Make sure you get them in advance (for instance, going to safe deposit box for ssn card if you don't have it), and bring with you. You want to look organized and attentive.

Fourth, begin assembling your summer work wardrobe if you haven't already. The recruiting coordinator should be able to tell you what the summer dress code is. This is not the time to be creative - you want to look professional and blend into the surroundings. You want people to remember you for your work and professional attitude, not that crazy shirt you wore on casual Friday.

Fifth, if you are spending the summer in a city different from where you usually live, make sure you leave time to get there, get settled, and be ready to leave for work. You don't want to be dealing with "move in" details when you are starting your job.

Sixth, if you have been given an advance calendar of social events, put them on your calendar, so you can block out the times. Social events are important and yes, you are expected to show up. But, let's say your brother is getting married and there is a dinner at a partner's house. Tell the recruiting coordinator or other appropriate person right from the start that you have this conflict. If you develop some working relationship with the partner, it would be fine to mention to him/her that you are sorry you cannot attend but your brother is getting married. Do not blow off social events just because you may not be interesting in [insert activity].

Seventh, make sure you understand who is invited to these social events. If unclear, ask the recruiting coordinator. If guests are not invited, do not ask to bring a guest. Again, should be obvious, but you'd be surprised.

I was going to go to 10, but that will have to wait. I just wanted to get you started as we get closer to summer.


Anonymous said...

Great post.

HP- from speaking with other HPs, do you believe 2L grades will be a big deciding factor in offers?

Sorry to bring up a question from the last posting

Anonymous said...

Very useful post - thank you.

Anonymous said...

HP- As a 2L about to head for a summer job where the dress code is suits 4 days a week and business casual for Fridays, how many suits should one have in their rotation? It is a little easier for me since I am a woman, and have four - two with skirts/pants. Also, what about more non-traditional suits (some shops have short sleeve jacket suits, or those that tie at the waist)?

Thank you for this blog! It has been very helpful.

Anonymous said...

HP- Do you know what percentage of summer will get offers this summer at your firm? 60%? 80%?

Anonymous said...

If your firm is explicitly business casual should you wear a suit on day one?

Anonymous said...

HP could you give some advice for those who are not so socially savvy/normally tend to shy away from big social events (besides obviously to still go to everything or almost everything)? Thanks

f-3 said...

6:26pm - Similar to you, I'm not very comfortable with schmoozing, but had to find ways so that people didn't mistake me for being "anti-social."

What works / worked for me:

1) I stopped telling myself that I'm "not good at this." I discovered that many attorneys are actually introverts - more comfortable with their work than talking to people. I felt less pressure to "act up" to an imagined "sociability" standard.

2) Ask questions - people are always more comfortable talking about themselves. Where do the questions come from? I listen and observe as much as I can, and I also keep up with current affairs, world news, industry developments, even just popular TV shows, etc.

3) If I know who's going to be at the event, I look up their bios, so I can ask them questions about their backgrounds. Pick different people every time so you're not talking to the same attorneys at every event.

4) Start in one corner of the room with one person you're comfortable with - then slowly move on from there. Don't worry about working the entire room. Don't pressure yourself to interact with everyone in one night. I also started with the staff and secretaries, as I thought they would be less judgmental (and they were).

5) I held onto either a drink or a plate of food, but never both. Otherwise, I got too self-conscious about managing what was in my hands AND trying to talk at the same time.

6) Gave myself timeouts - if I felt a bit overwhelmed, I stepped into the bathroom to collect myself for a few minutes. It always calmed me down.

This sounds like a cliche, but bottom line - find where your comfort zone is, and slowly expand it rather than forcing big changes all of a sudden. You'll eventually realize that while there are some people who are naturals, the vast majority of people are like us. At your first big mixer / event, just look at how the attorneys / staff gather around their own little groups, and you'll realize that they also have their own anxieties about meeting and talking to unfamiliar people :-) You're not alone.

Anonymous said...

All good tips from HP. I was a summer associate in the early 90's when firms hired too many summer associates (in light of a big drop in legal business). The two firms at which I split only ended up making offers to about 40% of the class. Word to the wise - don't be the summer associate who is constantly asking the firm how many offerse they are going to give and/or complaining that the firm overhired. The firms at which I worked didn't give offers to those summer assocs.

Anonymous said...

HP, can you give advice on the best ways to get an offer from a particular practice group?