Tag Archives: employment

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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Hard work, good work.

Work has been…harrowing…I guess is the word I would use.  I mean, it’s great.  But it’s also exhausting.  I remind myself that last year, when I started my first job, I was exhausted all the time.  I remind myself that there is an adjustment period during which I must find my sea-legs, or court-legs.  I repeat to myself over and over and over again that I can do this, that I will get the hang of it.

But it’s really hard.  It’s really, really hard.  There is a lot of balls in the air and I need to be organized, which is not a personal strength of mine.  So today, when a fellow lawyer who has started a new job was online during my lunch break, I im’d her to ask her if she also felt like she was drowning.  She agreed, and then asked if I wanted to go for a walk.  It was exactly what I needed – a twenty minute walk in which I was allowed to list all of my issues and all of the big giant bumps in the road, and at the end of all of my griping about my general ineptitude, she just looked at me and asked me if I felt like, once all the training crazy dies down, I feel like I’m in the right job.

Which I do.  So that’s the good news.  The bad news is that it’s really hard.  But I think I’m getting there.  It’s funny, because I haven’t been truly challenged in so long, and I forgot how scary awesome it is.  For the last seven months I have done a job that I can do, where I didn’t have any huge responsibilities and I had somebody to check my work every step of the way.  Now, I have a job where it’s really just me, on my own, representing clients and my representation can determine whether they win or not.  I manage my own caseload.  I realized today as I was scheduling appointments that for the first time, I’m really in charge of when I meet with clients (because I don’t have to share a conference room) and whether or not I take their case.  There are people in law firms that don’t have this much responsibility until they make partner.  It is awesome.  And well, harrowing.

So yeah.  That’s how it’s going.  I miss you guys though.  Not a lot of blogging/tweeting time is available right now.

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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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Retirement and Saving

I finally sat down and talked to my financial adviser yesterday (fancy speak for my best friend from high school who is a CFA), and he did not react well to the news that I’m not saving for retirement.  The conversation ended with me opening a Roth IRA at Fidelity, and a couple people asked me questions about it on Twitter, so I thought I’d explain my process a little bit.

Here’s the tricky thing about all financial guides directed to people in their twenties.  They tell you how to eliminate the credit card debt you inevitably piled up in college buying big macs and they teach you to start saving money towards a house.  They tell you to contribute whatever is left to your retirement account, preferably a 401(k) your employer matches.  (I have read this post on numerous personal finance blogs, but I’m open to reading other posts that say different things.)

I grew up in a relatively affluent area, and as such, I know a fair number of people in their twenties who are a) debt free and b) living comfortably.  Some of them have the luxury of living in a house their parent’s own, rent-free, some of them received an inheritance or a significant amount of money as a graduation present, some of them have simply been working since they were 16 and have saved a significant amount of money.  All of this is to say, there is very little advice for a person who is not currently in debt, and who either has a house, or has enough money to a house without needing to save for one, or has no interest in having a house.

There is a conception that has been promulgated recently among some of my friends that rich kids know what they are doing when it comes to money.  The truth is they don’t, because they’ve never really had to worry about it.  So let’s start with the very best advice I’ve received all year: retirement savings.

From what my high school friend tells me, there are basically three retirement options – an IRA, a Roth IRA, and a 401(k).  The difference between a Roth IRA and an IRA is that an IRA is taxed when you take the money out and a Roth IRA is that it is taxed when you put the money in.  So if you are in a lower tax bracket now than you plan to be when you retire, a Roth IRA is the way to go.  (This is how it was explained to me.  Please please please do your own research.  I am not giving you financial advice.)

A Roth IRA has income limits, which I am currently well below.  So a Roth IRA seemed like a no-brainer – so there are two remaining questions: where, and how much money do you put in?

There are a number of investment companies out there that do retirement accounts.  I went with Fidelity because my friend recommended it, based on the fact that I could invest with the S&P for free (I have zero understanding of what this actually means, expect a post on investment shortly once I’ve learned more about it).  I decided to go with Fidelity for the same reason that my parents both got iPhones.  It’s much easier to help somebody with a problem when you understand it, so since my friend invests with Fidelity, I can go to him for help in the future and he will understand it better than if I went with Vanguard (my second choice, as it’s where my husband’s accounts are.)

The second question – how much money do you put in?  My friend’s advice was that once I/we have a six-month emergency fund in savings, I should be maxing out my retirement funds.  You can put in $5,000 a year.  The minimum for Fidelity is $2,500.  The minimum for other companies is supposedly lower (one tweep said her minimum was $1,500 per year.)  The thing about retirement funds is it is incredibly hard to play catchup if say, you don’t start saving for retirement until you are 30 (this was the lecture I got today), but if you start saving now, even if it’s not very much, it will give you a boost for the future.  As a person who does not make much money currently, I know that I cannot count on having a large amount of social security earnings (if I can count on any), so saving for my future makes me feel better about it.

In case you are wondering whether you really need to save for your retirement, nursing homes cost about $7,000 a month.  Does anyone else have any tips or thoughts on investing and retirement funds?

 

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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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