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Summer associate season is coming. It's a time to learn skills, meet new people and -- oh, forget that. You want to get an offer for after graduation.
Here are some tips to help make that happen. Not all firms will even have the ability to hire new associates, so make sure you don't accept a spot from a firm that's just going to string you along. Assuming that your firm will be making job offers, here are some things you can do to put you in a better position to get one of them. But no guarantees.
1. Look the Part
It's summer. The perfect time for tank tops, shorts and flip flops -- you're a hard-bodied young thing so why not show it off, right? Wrong. You want to show that you're an adult, and that you have the mad skills to look like an adult even when it's hot. Take a cue from what the firm attorneys are wearing and dress like the most conservative of them. If they can endure the heat, you can too.
2. Get to Know People
You want to be both known and liked. Don't get too familiar or impose, but don't just keep your head down either. Your work might be brilliant, but people want to work with people they like. If you're happy to be there, then show it. Smile. Make time for people and show real interest in them. When it comes time to extend offers, you want to be the person everyone thinks they want to work with on a permanent basis.
3. Do Good Work
Obviously. Show attention to detail. Use proper English and good grammar. Ask questions so that you thoroughly understand your assignments and give progress reports when appropriate. You might be the kind of person who doesn't make excuses or is too proud to say anything when someone wrongly ascribes an error to you. Unfortunately, a summer internship gives people little time to learn your true character, so a different strategy might be advisable.
4. Don't Screw Up
How do summer associates and lawyers screw up? Oh, let us count the ways. Don't post stupid @#$ on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. If it's not something you want everyone on the, well, Internet to see (and that includes your firm), don't put it up. Don't drink. There's really no upside and a whole lotta potential downside. Don't hook up. You're there to work, not to provide fodder for juicy gossip. Don't screw around on the firm's computers. Look at Facebook, etc., at home. Your Internet usage might even be monitored.
Is this a comprehensive list of ways interns sabotage their efforts to land an offer? We have far too much faith in human creativity to believe that. Basic guideline: if that tiny voice in your mind asks you if what you're doing could be a problem, it probably could.
5. Keep in Touch
Here's the big one. There can be a vast stretch of time between when your job ends and when offers begin, so make sure you are remembered. Get everyone's email and use it. Keep abreast of what the company is doing, and when it's appropriate to write a little message -- maybe the firm just won a case and you read about it in the paper -- send a short, friendly email. In a word, network.
The trick to landing an offer is for summer associates to treat the internship as an extended interview. So use these tips and show the firm that you are someone who will fit in seamlessly and be pleasant to work with, someone with good judgment who will be a credit to the firm.