Last month, AbovetheLaw.com, an extremely entertaining
“legal tabloid” website posted excerpts
from a NYU Law School’s career services
department memo, entitled “How Not
to Succeed as a Summer Associate.” It outlined
some excellent career advice for students embarking
on summer internships.
The part of the memo I liked best was Real
World Examples of Career Limiting Behavior.
Here are a few:
- Summer associate complains about having
a windowless office and then claims to have been
"promised" a window during the interview
- Summer associate shows up at all firm events
involving food, and is so busy eating that they
fail to socialize with anyone else.
- Summer associate refuses to work past 7:00
p.m. or on weekends.
- Summer associate refuses to make edits
to a draft brief because "I was an English
major in college and I know your edits are incorrect."
Any of the above sound familiar?
Some twenty-somethings are arriving at the workplace
this summer, and you can bet this fall, with unbelievable
levels of entitlement (office with a view, please),
poor manners (pass the shrimp), set work hours
(I don’t do weekends), and unbridled self-confidence
(your edits are incorrect).
Feedback from students who attend the Core
Skills programs we facilitate has
been mixed. The majority enjoy learning about
the correct way to eat at the table, how to give
a proper hand-shake, the art of making small talk,
and what to wear to make a good impression, while
others do not. Here is some feedback from one
firm’s summer class:
- “How to Dress” could have been
replaced by a 30 minute BlackBerry tutorial.
- No etiquette lessons, thank you.
- I thought the etiquette training could
have been left out.
We also heard “patronizing,” “irrelevant,”
“condecending,” and “not useful.”
Hmm, seems like there’s a major disconnect
here. After riding the self-esteem express from
cradle to college, it’s practically impossible
for some of Gen Y’s finest to accept that
their behavior in the workplace is in any way
career limiting, until it’s too late. As
the economy tightens, jobs continue to be outsourced,
and Baby Boomers delay retirement, new grads will
do well to pay more attention to the softer side
of their careers.
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