Many summer associate programs will be wrapping up at the end of this month. If you joined my free webinar and have been following along the blog all summer, I’m confident you’ve been doing a great job and have made a strong impression.
To close out the summer on an equally high note, here’s my list of five things you should do before the end of your summer associate or internship position:
1. Wrap Up Your Pending Assignments With 2-3 Days to Spare
The last couple of days of work should be reserved for addressing any outstanding questions from your latest assignments and saying thank you and goodbye, not for rushing to complete a massive project. Not only will this make your last few days much more enjoyable, but it also ensures you leave your supervisors with a great impression by giving them time to review and comment on your final assignments before you ride off into the sunset. If you do find yourself in a time crunch (or get some last minute assignments), make sure to finish all your work before you leave, even if it takes you through the last day. The worst thing you can do is fail to turn in an assignment at the end of the summer; senior attorneys have long memories for that kind of thing.
2. Thank Your Bosses/Mentors and Ask for References
Before you leave your job, stop by your supervisor’s office or schedule a video chat. Do this for any mentors or attorneys with whom you developed a strong working or personal relationship. Thank them for the summer experience and their guidance. If you had a positive experience with them, this is a great time to ask if they’ll serve as a reference for you.
And if you want to work at this office after law school, now’s the time to make that clear! At some firms, you’ll be getting an offer at the end of the summer. Other workplaces may not make hiring decisions until your 3L year. If you make clear that you loved the experience and would like to return after graduation, you’re planting the seed in their minds when hiring time does come around. Ask if there’s anything you should focus on during the school year to improve your chances of post-school employment and find out what the application process is and when it ramps up so you can put a reminder in your calendar.
3. Download Your Writing Sample
One of your takeaways from your summer associate position should be a great writing sample. Make sure to take it with you!
Generally speaking, a writing sample needs to be something you wrote with minimal edits, and it should be a shareable document, meaning it doesn’t contain private, confidential client information. If you’re not sure if a particular document is appropriate or can go with you due to confidentiality or other concerns, ask your boss and/or mentor.
4. Make it Easy to Stay in Touch
Some summer associates send out office-wide goodbye emails providing their personal contact info. Unless you worked with everyone in a small office, I do not suggest doing this. It reads a little tone deaf in a large office where many people don’t know you.
It is appropriate to send personal emails to the people you worked with and give your personal contact info, especially any bosses/mentors you asked to serve as references. You can also connect on LinkedIn with anyone you worked with to start building up your online network. Even if you don’t end up at this workplace after graduation, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on people you once worked with in case your paths cross again in the future.
5. Update Your Resume
This can wait until after your last day, but don’t wait too long – you want to make sure everything you did is fresh in your mind. Make a list of everything you worked on and categorize it into a few bullet points for your resume. (If you followed my webinar advice and kept a running list of projects, this list should already be done.) Some suggested language:
- Performed legal research and drafted memoranda on antitrust issues
- Drafted interrogatories and responses for multi-district litigation
- Drafted plaintiff-side deposition outlines for product liability class action
The point is to be specific enough that it is clear what you worked on without revealing confidential information. Ideally, a resume will list your accomplishments and not just the work you did, but as a summer associate you may not know if, for example, your firm won the motion you drafted or if you have any “wins” to mention.
Above all, do not ever put anything on your resume that you will not be prepared to talk about in interviews – potentially in detail. As an example from my own career, I spent half of my 1L summer doing a study abroad program in London and noted that I took classes on European Union law on my resume. A couple of partners I interviewed with during OCI absolutely grilled me on EU law. Fortunately, the information was still fresh enough in my mind that I could discuss it reasonably intelligently, but it was a lesson in resume drafting for sure.
Check out more career advice for new attorneys here.