Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Being a Professional . . .

It's that time of year again . . . interview season is upon us at the law school. Every day my classmates are showing up in suits, skirts, and heels because they have on-campus interviews (which are called "OCIs") with various employers for summer associate positions. I am just now in the process of applying to some jobs, so I haven't had any OCIs yet, but I hope that I will have some in the next few weeks. I and my classmates have also been working to get our resumes absolutely perfect so we can apply for all these jobs.

Tomorrow night there is a networking/ social event with some local attorneys and members of the Georgia bar. So tonight, I pulled all the clothes out of my closet that look even remotely "professional" and tried to plan some outfits for all the networking and interviews coming up. (In times like these, I feel a little jealous of the way guys just have to put on a suit and tie and they KNOW it's professional...for women, the rules are not quite so clear-cut). I decided my bright turquoise nail polish had to go in favor of a more conservative shade (read: a more boring color). Being in law school has made me continually be thinking about what is or is not considered professional, especially when I buy new clothes or accessories. For example, the other day I was at Target, planning to buy, of all things, a new umbrella. I'm a fan of bright colors, and there was this great umbrella with turquoise and lime polka dots all over it, and I really wanted it. Then I had this thought: would I be embarrassed to be carrying THAT umbrella in the rain with my colleagues as we walked to a business luncheon, or a courthouse, or some other work event? With that thought, I really considered just buying the basic black umbrella and being done with it. But I just couldn't leave that beautiful umbrella on the shelf and get a plain one, so I decided that either a) I can get another one for work-related events, or b) my colleagues and potential employers will just have to be impressed with my professionalism in other ways! So, I got the bright polka-dotted umbrella, and I don't regret it.

One of my concerns with entering a very conservative, professional, and ambitious career path is that I will feel the need to squelch aspects of my personality just to succeed . . . I know that others have felt this way too about going into law, or medicine, or other similarly driven careers that are full of unwritten expectations. But for now, as I go into various interviews, I am going to do my best to show off MY personality and my skills, and not just to tell people what I think they want to hear. So I'm just going to polish my resume, find some good interview clothes, practice selling my skills . . . and remember to bring my polka-dotted umbrella in case it rains.

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