Success Advice for Recent Grads

The market is actually decent for new grads right now. For the first time in many years, we are seeing law firm recruiting and marketing positions that are open to a “smart new grad with strong internships.”

With this in mind, I have some advice for recent grads who are beginning their careers. These recommendations are based on feedback we get from clients, as well as from our experience hiring new grads and interns.

  1. Dress the part. Imagine running into the head of the Firm or escorting an important client/candidate to a conference room. Would you feel confident in what you are wearing or need to apologize that it’s casual Friday?
  2. Watch your tone. Your new colleagues and supervisors are not your “friends.” Don’t confuse friendly and collegial with casual or unprofessional. If in doubt, take the more conservative approach.
  3. Bring your “can do” attitude to work EVERY day! At school, you can decide which days you give it 100% and which days you coast.  At work, you need to show up every day and be prepared to produce your best work product.
  4. Be responsive! I was recently doing a team building program for a group of new grads for a firm in Chicago and I mentioned a pet peeve many Directors and CMOs have voiced to me. They said some of their junior team members did not respond to email inquiries until they had the answer to the question the email asked.  When I shared how poorly received this lack of timely responsiveness was, I suggested that it is best to respond and say, “I will look into that and get back to you by 2pm.” All the attendees took notes and admitted that this was not their first instinct.
  5. Anticipate needs. If you want to exceed expectations in your first job out of school, don’t just respond, but anticipate what your boss, internal clients or department needs!  For example, don’t just update the on-line forms, but make copies and put them in a labeled folder for easy use.

Making the transition from being a student to a full-time member of the workforce is challenging; I hope the pointers above can help to ease that transition! Please feel free to share any of the unwritten rules described above, as well as your own advice, with a new grad.

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