Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Midsummer Associate's Dream

‘Tis the season for mid-summer reviews, which means you’re half way there!  For some of you, you’re on the verge of getting the full-time job offer (fingers crossed) upon graduation, and for others, maybe an invitation back to the firm next summer is on the horizon.  As summer associate programs shrink and job guarantees are few and far between, clenching that offer is the summer associate’s dream.  But, how can you make that dream a reality?

1.      Decorum.  From the moment you begin your program, consider yourself on a permanent interview for the rest of the summer because you are being judged, questioned, and compared at every moment.  Be professional.  Your work, no matter the size of the task, should be of the highest quality, on-time (if not early), proofed, and well-researched.  Outside of the office is also part of this marathon of an interview.  Attend as many of the firm’s social outings as possible, but remember that this isn’t a frat party, it is business.  Co-workers are not friends, lovers or gossip pals.
2.      Be Flexible.  If you are interested in a particular practice area within the firm, then attempt to work in that area as much as possible.  The more the staff in that field gets to know you and your work ethic, the better your chances.  However, you must be open to other practice areas.  Be enthusiastic about all of your projects.  If you show that you can be flexible and a team player, you can greatly improve your odds of an invitation to stay. 
3.      Inquire About Positions Available During the School Year:  If you are doing well in your studies and are able to take on more work, it may be worthwhile to ask about a job continuing into the school year – even if it’s only for an hour or two a week.  If there isn’t anything available, it is still worth the effort.  You showed interest and dedication to the firm and potential plans to commit.  If you can get a position, you will be able to maintain your professional relationships and stay in the minds (and faces) of recruiters.  Not to mention, you will improve your practical skills and earn an income!  If the position is unpaid, don’t reject it automatically. Weigh the offer against your ability to time manage and retain a high rank.  
4.      Take Critiques Professionally.  A mid-summer review is just that – a review of what you have done so far.  You will be critiqued because – let’s face it – you only learn theory in law school.  You’re unlikely to be a natural at the practical stuff and mistakes will happen.  Plus, you’re human.  Even if it doesn’t feel like it, these critiques are to help you become the attorney of the firm’s dreams.  They are investing their time and money in you and want the investment to pay off.  Take the criticisms, implement them, improve, and do it all with a smile.

Bonus!  Barrister on a Budget Tip:  Aside from looking for that permanent job, you should be managing your summer associate income wisely.  Try to save as much as you can in order to borrow fewer loans in the upcoming year and to make interest payments which will help you avoid paying more over the life of the loan.

As this is not an all-inclusive list, I’ve provided a few articles of interest below. 
·  Making the Most of Your Summer Associate Program.
·         NYU:  How to Succeed as a Summer Associate (I particularly enjoyed the section on real world examples of career limiting behavior).

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