Make A Positive Impression This Summer; You Don’t Get That Many Chances!

Many of you are spending at least part of the summer working. Whether it be an internship, clerkship, or externship, you may not realize that you are conducting a critical mission in your job search right now. Good or bad, fun or boring, competent or incompetent, independent or needing hand-holding, hard worker or lazy, you are making an impression that will follow you for months if not years. My admonition to you is to make the most of this incredible opportunity and make a great impression. This might sound too obvious. Or you might think I’m making too much of one, relatively short experience. Finally, you might have the view that there is no chance you won’t make a great impression. Wherever you fall on the spectrum, please consider the following:

1. How many practicing lawyers (outside of those in this building) will be able to attest, first-hand, to your qualities as a candidate when you are searching for that first full-time job? It won’t be many. Even within a larger organization, chances are you are going to work closely with just a handful of people. So on the one hand, you only have to impress a few people. On the other, because only a relative few will be able to speak on your behalf, you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to impress even one of them

2. Yes you can make a bad impression. Skipping over the typical ways you could do that, let’s start with the fact that sometimes people just don’t click. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it just happens. You cannot control that. However, the way you handle such a circumstance will make a big difference in how that employer talks about you to others. One option will be something like, “Jim worked hard, did quality work and was always willing to help out a colleague or fellow clerk, even though it was pretty clear early on that he didn’t exactly fit the culture of our firm. I think he would be great in a lot of organizations.” The other option would be, “It was apparent from day one that Jim wasn’t a great fit, and unfortunately that impacted his working relationships and led to a host of issues throughout the clerkship.” Don’t let a disappointing experience morph into a disappointing impression. A couple of other tips here:

1) Figure out who the hardest working people are and emulate them. Better, see if you can work on assignments with them. That will have the dual effect of forcing you to work hard just to keep up, but also the association factor of others assuming if you’re working with them you must be working hard.

2) Working hard doesn’t mean cut-throat and competitive with your fellow clerks. There may be a few places that find that attractive, but most firms I talk to do not. Further, in this iteration of the legal market, firms either have full-time positions for each individual summer clerk or they don’t; there isn’t a competition among several of you for one slot.

3) Ask people around you what a few areas of weakness are that you can be working on. (They need to be people who will tell you the truth). This will help you identify your blind spots, and you can then pay extra attention to them during your clerkship so they don’t trip you up. Not to mention, employers will sometimes ask about your weaknesses in interviews, so it will be good research for how you can best answer that question in future interviews.

Don’t take for granted the time you have working this summer. You have an opportunity to make a positive impression that will either lead directly to a job, or position you well for another job. Good luck!\par \par Connect with Daniel at and/or@BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter. Job of the Week: Each week I highlight a job in Symplicity you might be interested in but may have missed. This week’s job is: Associate Attorney at Bickerstaff Heath Delgado Acosta, LLP (Recent grad, Austin) Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.

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