Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I'm reminded of this song ... I can't remember if we learned it in school when we were really little, or if our Dad taught it to us (and by us, I'm referring to my siblings ... reading this over I realized that I didn't specify - seemed obvious to me because when I sing it in my head, I'm little and singing it with them) ...

"Witches, and goblins, and jack-o-lanterns bright ... creep through the town on a cold October night ... you hear the sound of marching feet but nothing can be seen, the strangest things can happen on a quiet Halloween."

Anyhow, I'm making a recovery from a whirlwind of a last few days.

I had the greatest weekend in Calgary. Jason and I drove home on Friday last week, got family portraits taken with my family, learned that KRISTIN GOT INTO HER MASTER'S PROGRAM (woo hoo Kristi ... congrats, congrats, congrats ... I call getting free therapy when you're finished), took care of some real estate business, got to have sushi with some friends, and saw Henry Rollins. It was super busy, but that's generally how we like to roll.

Monday morning I flew back early so that ... drum-roll please ... I could attend some of the OCI's (On Campus Interviews - remember me applying for them?). Calgary firms came to Saskatchewan this week to interview for summer employment next May-Aug. I know that the Vancouver firms do this as well, but I'm not sure about anyone else (since I'm only interested in Calgary, and know people interested in Vancouver).

When I had found out that I would be interviewing, I started my normal routine of interview prep. I realized, though, that I had no idea what these interviews would be like. From talking to classmates, I gathered that they were far less formal that what I was used to, and so I made an appointment with Terri Karpish to talk a few things over. This was really worthwhile, and I'll be going back to Terri again to talk about articling.

Good advice from Terri was:
- Dress conservatively. I know this SEEMS like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised what I can come up with when standing in front of my closet, EVEN when limited to suit-wear.
- When asked if you have questions for the firm, try and prepare some meaningful questions that aren't just things that you could look up on their website. Remember the purpose for the interview, that it's really about a best-fit for both you and the firm.
- Law interviews (in this context) really are informal, there aren't usually set questions, it's not a behavioral style interview ... but even so, think about your resume and cover letter, and think about the main things that you'd like for the firm to know about you - and prepare to work it into conversation.

After meeting with Terri, I felt much more comfortable, and focused on reading what I could about each of the firms that I interviewed with, and trying to wrap my head around what it even means to be part of a "big firm".

So ... on Monday morning I got fancied up in my professional duds and headed on over to the Delta Bessborough (which ... as I mentioned before ... I know isn't "on-campus", there is a potential strike happening at the U of S, so the OCI's were moved off campus ... so ... they were the off campus on campus interviews, or OCOCI's - HA!).

There was a seating area for students to wait, and each firm would come out to get you when they were ready for you. They'd bring you back to their table, where there would usually be two interviewers. Conversation would usually start from a comment about SOMETHING from your resume or cover letter, and then it would roll from there.

This process was actually a lot less nerve wracking than the job interviews that I've been on before, and I even ENJOYED the process (I know, it sounds a little crazy, but there it is).

After interviews on Monday, the Dean from our College held a wine and cheese where the wine flowed, and the cheese ... sat on a plate waiting to be eaten ... yeah, I guess I've tapped my creativity for the week. It was a nice opportunity to mingle with everyone, and a special highlight for me was to be able to chat with a few of the first years that were out for interviews ... I haven't had much of a chance to meet many since we've been all over campus ... can't wait for our new building to open.

After the Dean's wine and cheese we were bussed over to Louis' for a wine and cheese put on by the firm. There was a real smorg of yummies, including crab, hors'd'oeuvres, cheeses, fruit, and even strawberry banana flambé. We were entirely spoiled.

This is the part of the story where I tried to pace myself with water. It was a good intention ... for a little while.

After Louis' we were treated to some drinks at the Freehouse (um ... pomegranate martinis here were actually good ... I made them once and they were so bitter they were gross - it was a New Year's Eve, and I was so disappointed ... the pom martinis at Freehouse were so yummy, it was FAR too easy to down them in a hurry).

Needless to say, it was hard to get up in the morning for round two of interviews (especially when my first interview was at 8:30). I wasn't too bad, I was so thankful for the attempt that I made at the water pacing, and I got through Tuesday.

So ... basically, here are the things that I learned, that I'd pass onto anyone looking at doing OCI's in the future:

- Do dress conservatively (again, I know mostly a no-brainer ... EVERYONE that I saw at the OCIs looked so amazing and professional, so obviously not something that's a contentious idea to get, but just thought I'd put it out there).
- Remember what an amazing opportunity the interview is for you, not only in possibly securing summer employment, but in having two lawyers from a firm at your disposal for an entire 20 - 30 minutes. If you're like me and you aren't sure about what it means to be at a big firm, use this time to ask some questions and absorb as much as you can ... this process will be invaluable when it comes time to think about where to apply for articling.
- I was really happy that I was always early. I liked to be in the student waiting area about 20 minutes prior to my interview time. I felt relaxed, I was able to chat with fellow students, and I think it really put me in the right frame of mind for the interviews.
- Do a better job than I did at pacing the drinks with water. I wasn't super-hung over in the morning, but I was definitely a little more flat for my Tuesday interviews than my Monday ones. It sucked to know it. Pace. With. Water.
- Include on your resume/cover letter something about yourself that will make you stand out from the crowd. All the firms told me that they know we're all intelligent, capable, WONDERFUL (ahem ... that one could have been my insertion) people. Interviews are to see where and how you'd fit into the firm. I've heard that people included everything from their community involvement, to belly dancing, to travels ... whatever. Remember that beyond being law students, everyone has some really interesting things to offer ... put them down on paper and brag a little!
- Have fun. The lawyers from the firms are pretty interesting people, and so are your classmates. Go to the wine and cheese functions, and make some acquaintances.

That's all I can think of right now, I'll add more if I think of them.

Anyhoo - I now just have to wait until January 21st (I think) to hear about potential jobs. Seems like a lifetime away, but at least, in the meantime, BATTLESTAR GALLACTICA will have started.

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