Summer Job Success: Wise Words?

By: Cliff Jarrett

Dean of Career Services

You can find dozens of articles and other advice online about how to make your summer job successful (or at least not an epic failure). However, only in The Law News can you get gold nuggets of wisdom from W&L Law students. While faculty and administrators seldom venture into the reading rooms for fear of what they might see (or smell), I risked life and limb and tiptoed into that wilderness to bring you summer success insights from the minds of the best the law school has to offer. This advice seemed to fit into three categories – the aspirational, the practical and the absurd. I will let you figure out which is which.

Kelly Chrisman suggested remembering that the people you work with over the summer will later be references for you, so build those relationships (even if you don’t love what you are doing). Maria Rossi said to make sure to ask for help. “It is better to do that than to do it wrong,” she said. David Hatch and Clint Williams separately extolled the virtues of networking over the summer, especially with W&L alumni and other lawyers, judges or business people in the city where you are working.

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Source: | Some law students are considering retiring after school.

Matt Donahue and Deb Howe each recommended asking for feedback over the course of the summer, not just at the end – especially since lawyers are notorious for not voluntarily telling you how you are doing. Matt added to make sure you ask for feedback in person.

Mason Williams kept a list with a description of all the projects that he worked on over the summer so that he could update his resume and remember details during interviews. James Simon suggested taking some time to get out in the local area where you are living. “Get to know more than just the job and the people you work with,” said Simon. After listening to these pearls of wisdom, Jake Bolinger astutely added, “What they said.”

Perhaps the most “interesting” advice came from a table of 3Ls who appear to be laying the foundation for asserting adverse possession on a table in the main reading room and whose names have been changed to protect the “innocent.”. One of these 3Ls (let’s call him “Mo Bahr”) told me to make sure that you look busy even if you aren’t – especially at the end of the day. “If you are in your office at 5:30 looking like you are in the middle of a big project while everyone else is going home, it will make it seem like you are staying late, even if you pack up and leave 5 minutes after they do.” Another 3L, “Aaron Simmerstone” recommended not focusing solely on work as getting to know your colleagues outside of work is important. “However, if your alcoholic boss wants to buy you and your fellow summer associate shots night after night, that can become a problem.”

Finally, “Lenna Jorence,” the third sage 3L summed it all up by advising law students to speak up sooner rather than later and tell someone you trust if you are encountering problems with work or with the aforementioned social scene. “Check yourself before you wreck yourself,” she said.

Mic drop.


Categories: Columns