Tag Archives: job search

Big Changes

So, we’re going through some really big changes.  In 2010, we moved, got married, and I graduated and passed the bar.  Last year, my husband changed jobs and then we bought a house. It seems impossible to simply make one big life change every year, so this year we are having a baby, and on Wednesday, I start a new job.

I stopped writing about work here pretty much when I started my last job, mostly because it made me so uncomfortable for privacy reasons.  I don’t know whether I will write more about it with the new position.  I’m going from a family law to general civil practice, although I’ll be staying in the public interest sphere.

There are some things that happened to me during this job negotiation that I handled incorrectly, and that others thoroughly bungled.  I’m not going to talk about it publicly, but feel free to send me an email or leave a comment with your email address if you have specific questions about interviewing for and changing jobs during pregnancy – it’s very difficult to navigate.  All I will say is that I wish I had put my own needs first, instead of trying to make things convenient or easier for other people.  Negotiate hard for what you want, and when that is in writing, give your notice.  If that process takes longer than you had hoped, that’s not your problem.

I’m making a lot of sacrifices for this job – I’m giving up a great commute, fantastic coworkers, a boss who lets me run my own office, a lot of independence, and paid maternity leave.  Like any decision, you have to hope really, really hard, that what you are giving up is worth what you are getting.  With my longer commute comes a much bigger office, a support staff, a boss who is in the office, a higher salary and chance for promotion, training, and a very large organization, fancy things like a client database on the computer , and a broader practice area.

The timing, as with everything, was not spectacular.  I have a friend in the office I’m going to, and I’ve wanted to work there for awhile, and she sent me the job posting a week after I found out I was pregnant.  I interviewed when I was 8 weeks.  At 16 weeks, they called me for a second interview.  At 19 weeks, I went on the second interview. At 20 weeks, I was offered the position.  (If you are counting, yes, it’s been 8 weeks from when I was offered the position to when I’m starting at this job.)  I am pleased with how smooth the transition has been for my current office – I was able to give adequate notice and they were able to hire my replacement, and I was able to train her as best as I could.  This eased my anxiety about leaving a mess of files and notes that my replacement would not understand.

This change is terrifying for me.  I am about to take a job, work there for 11 weeks, and then  go out on maternity leave at some point.  I’ve been incredibly emotional the last few weeks, and every decision I have made has been second guessed and discussed to death, and then I’ve cried over it.  But, I remember the post I wrote two years and four months ago.  Success is scary, change is huge. My mantra for this week is, ships are safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are built for.

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Thankful.

Last week was the big fancy dinner that my job throws.  Unlike a lot of nonprofit functions, this one is usually not boring, and doesn’t involve a lot of big financial requests.  And it made me feel very inspired, but mostly it made me feel lucky and thankful.

You guys, I work for the best people in the world.  I truly and genuinely believe this.  I work for people that care about me as a person, about me as a lawyer, and about women in general.  I think this is awesome.  Our organization does good work, and I feel like I have all of the support in the world from my boss.

I point out a lot that I work regular hours.  And I brag about this not because it means I get home at 5pm, but because I truly believe that my office’s fierce protection of regular hours is more about them trying to improve work-life balance for Americans and trying to prevent staff burnout.  I don’t make a lot of money, but my office has my back.  Additionally, my company creates part-time positions designed to help stay-at-home parents re-enter the workforce, and positions like mine allow the idea of having children and a fulfilling career seem possible, and I think that is really important for organizations that are committed to improving the lives and status of women.

This year, it’s pretty easy to say what I’m thankful for, because it’s my job.  It’s my job that reminds me continually why I went to law school.  It’s my job that gave me a chance as a lawyer, that values me as a professional, and it’s my job that allows me to continue to serve person after person who is in desperate need.  It’s my job that makes me feel fulfilled, which has made me happier than I knew I could be.

Plus I get to walk to work.

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The New Job

The new job has started.  Entry is rough, but I think I’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly.  It turns out that after seven months of saying, “oh, no, I’m not the lawyer,” I’m really eager to say, “HI I’M YOUR G-DD-MN LAWYER AND YOU BETTER LIKE IT.”  It’s a total shift in terms of area of practice, responsibilities, office setup, and everything else.

I’m not allowed to say, check my email or write blog posts, so expect blogging to be pretty quiet, or not at normal times, or clearly written yesterday and scheduled for the morning.

I am allowed to request office supplies, but I’m pretty sure this means, y’know, a monitor riser and not an iPad, since I now work for a non-profit.  It turns out that one thing I absolutely cannot live without anymore is a carbon-copy memo-book.  I need one of these for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I lose stuff, but with the carbon copy memo pad, I have a carbon of the person’s phone number, name, and message, even if I lost the message.  The second is that I like to have a chronology of who called when, and I like to have them all neatly in one place so I can check through the book and see whether I spoke with Ms. Jones before or after Mr. Smith and which day of the week that was on.  The third is that if I do not have a memo pad, I write down 6 messages on one piece of notebook paper and then I don’t know whose file to put my notes in.  I’m not going to write each message on a single piece of notebook paper, because that is a waste of space.  So I’m requesting a memo-book.  Unless you think an iPad would be more efficient, but I’m pretty sure the $295 difference in price will decide that for me.

My office is also desperately, sadly, in need of some art.  I’m probably not supposed to share pictures of my office, but I am sharing this one of the wall opposite me because I cannot fathom that it is actually breaking any rules.  This is what I’m looking at from my desk.

I’m gonna need some art.  What color would go well against the wall color?  I want something nice that I won’t mind looking at for the next few years.  Inspirational quotes are acceptable, but no demotivators or quotes about love, family, wine, husbands, shoes, or other unprofessional things.  Not really anything about lawyers either, since I will be meeting with clients in this space.  I want the space to feel warm and friendly, but like I take them seriously.  I can’t achieve the streamlined effects of the downtown BigLaw offices that are more glass than anything else, but I want to feel like more than a nonprofit lawyer making do with what was offered.  Also, this workspace is mine and it isn’t temporary and  I want to make it what I want it to be.  Suggestions, please!

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Interview Questions, Part III

Do you have a family?

When asked this question on an interview last year, I nearly choked.  This is a question that is not only illegal, there is no good answer.  Saying “yes” says that “I will be leaving work early to go to piano recitals” and saying no says, “yes, but I might in the future.”

Several people asked if when a lawyer asks this question, is it some kind of test as to whether or not you know this is an illegal question.  Several people have suggested that I take the interviewer to task over this question.  Those people clearly do not understand the market, in which applicants are a dime a dozen and employers have the upper hand.

So how have I handled this question?  The last time, I simply said, “yes.”  Because well, everyone has a family.  I said yes in a halting way, as if I found the question offensive and the interviewer had better clarify why he/she had asked it.  Which he/she did, or tried to.  But I walked away from the interview wondering if a job that asked me about a family was somewhere I wanted to work, so the question really hurts both people.

The tips I found on the internet for avoiding illegal questions are to say things like, “I can meet the demanding requirements of this job, if that is what you are asking.”  I’m not quite that slick yet, but I’ve been practicing.  I think another easy “don’t-you-know-that-question-is-illegal” answer is, “what exactly are you asking?”  The problem is, they might clarify by saying, “do you have children?” And a don’t-ask-don’t-tell, “it is my understanding that you are not allowed to ask me these types of questions” is probably not the right response, but will do if you’ve already decided you don’t want the job.

I’ve actually been asked this, or if I am married, quite a lot.  So I need to have a better response in my back pocket that says, “MYOB.”  Any suggestions?  Has anyone else faced this?

 

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30 by 30 – Progress Report

Becky inspired me to update my 30×30 list.  I decided that I’m going to leave it un “finished” for now, because I might add things to it in the next four years.
  1. Run a marathon (in progress – hopefully will meet on March 18)
  2. Do a century bike ride
  3. Do an Olympic distance triathlon
  4. Make my own cheese (done)
  5. Make my own yogurt (done)
  6. Go back to Egypt
  7. Do a trail race (hopefully will be achieved on February 4th)
  8. Pace my friend E. on one of her Ultramarathons (done! twice!)
  9. Go diving in the pacific ocean
  10. Take an overnight train trip with my husband
  11. Put a backsplash up in the kitchen (done!)
  12. Grow vegetables (we are on the waiting list for a community plot)
  13. Go on a racecation (race + vacation)
  14. Volunteer at the nature center where we got married
  15. Try CrossFit
  16. Take a boxing class
  17. Take a photography class (done – I took a four week intermediate photography class this fall)
  18. Take baked goods to the new neighbors
  19. Go to Australia
  20. Do a bike tour of Niagra wineries
  21. Do a beer tour somewhere new
  22. See a Broadway play
  23. Run a half-marathon in under 2 hours
  24. Learn Spanish
  25. Score the winning goal in a hockey game (done!)
  26. Earn a salary and have health insurance.

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Good Things About 2011 (And Better Things To Come in 2012)

2011 was, for the most part, for me, clouded by one thing, and one thing only – the loss of a very dear friend.  As my parents health starts to fail and they get older, that pain is compounded by the fact that we no longer have our dear friend, the one my sister and I could always turn to and who we thought would be there for us as our own parents aged, is no longer here.  Instead, we struggle with being there for his family as they need us, and we struggle to accept his death as anything more than a completely senseless tragedy that did not need to happen.

So that was the downside of 2011.  But, in keeping with the spirit of Petite Chablis and her post, I’m now going to say the things that happened in 2011 that didn’t completely suck.  In 2011, I:

-Got a job!!! Two, actually.  I got my first attorney job, where I learned how to be an attorney, and then I got my law clerk job, where I have learned to be a private-practice attorney.  I’ve been very lucky to have wonderfully supportive bosses in both cases who are committed to helping me be the best attorney I can be.

-Ran a ten miler and a half marathon!  I didn’t meet my time goals for either race, but I’m happy that I’m not injured and I’m doing really well with my marathon training.

-Lost 14lbs!  I finally shed the pesky post-wedding weight and the five pounds that showed up my third year of law school and wouldn’t leave.

-Decided to keep my name!  I am really proud that I finally came to a decision, and also really happy that it’s the decision that involved the least amount of work.

-Went on a bike trip through Wales!  Without fighting with my husband AT ALL.  It was really amazing.  We also did several long bike rides leading up to it, which was awesome.

-Went camping, twice.  Goal is to go 4 times in 2012.

-Read a LOT of books.  Thinking about it, I think I read somewhere between 15 and 20 books in 2011.  Thank goodness for libraries and library lending on Kindle!

-Made new friends.  I made new friends on the internet, in the city where I live, and within the legal community.  I also kept in touch with old friends in a meaningful way, which takes a lot of totally-worth-it effort.

2012 will hopefully bring me a finished marathon, a finished half-ironman (or at least Olympic Distance triathlon!), a PR for my half-marathon, a permanent, salaried, lawyer job, and a solid relationship with my spouse, my family, and my friends.

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Filed under Exercise and Fitness, Family, Job Search, Lawyering, Life List

Interview Questions, Part 1

Welcome to my ongoing series about interview questions and how to not answer them.

“Why do you want this job?” 

I hate this question.  Hate it.  Usually, either the answer is, “I don’t, but the people I want to hire me won’t hire me,” or “I like this field and would like to work in it.” 

Nonetheless, when asked this question, I usually sort of blank out or freeze.  I think the best answer I gave was, “I would like the opportunity to learn about private practice and my last job stopped paying me.”  I think the worst answer I gave was, “er, um, I think the work is important.” The answer I want to give is, “you pay well and provide health insurance.” 

So, for interviews in the future, this is the question I will start preparing for.  Why do I want the job?  Let’s see:

1) It’s a natural progression from my current job, where I do xyz, but offers more challenges and room for advancement. 

2) I’m interested in the field and I would like to continue working in it/start working in it. 

3) I find that I am well suited for [this type of work] and am looking for a position that allows me to use the skills I’ve already developed as well as learn more about [the aspect of the job that I’m less familiar or experienced at]. 

Then, the biggest trick is going to be to stop talking.  I think for interviews, I tend to run on.  I need to talk less, so coming up with a one sentence answer and then not talking anymore is going to be the big key. 

How would/do you answer that question?  Is there something in particular employers are working for, or is it just a quick way to make sure you actually want the job?

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