How To Celebrate a Win

how to celebrate a winHow do you celebrate a professional win?  Reader M wonders…

I have a question for you and the hive mind…yesterday I ‘sealed the deal’ on an important partnership for one of my projects, and I find myself wanting to celebrate.  Honestly, my family and friends don’t want to hear all the details because, well, I spend too much time working anyway and work should not be the topic of discussion when I’m not working!  But this is a big deal for me, and I want to celebrate – how do you go about celebrating a work success bigger than “I finished the report” but smaller than “I finished my PhD”?  FWIW I had a party when i finished my PhD!

This is a great question, because the rules do change a bit when you get out of school.  Professional success is great… but it can be a bit lonely.  First, not everyone understands what it means — they may not understand the details of your win (you did what?), or they may not understand the significance of your win.*  Secondly, because a “win” so often translates to money or promotion, you start to deal with jealous friends, or seem vain yourself.  So really — and I’m curious what the readers have to say here — my answer is you generally celebrate “by yourself” or “with your close friends and family.” (Pictured:  Party Hats, originally uploaded to Flickr by Infidelic.)  For example, I like to celebrate things by pampering myself:

  • a new high number for the blog (traffic or money)? dinner out with the hubs!
  • a new advertiser or campaign? a pedicure!
  • a project FINALLY finished? a day or two off to just stare at the walls if I want to!

So when do you get to celebrate with all of your friends?  I think “new job” is a great time to celebrate, because most people understand the stress of job hunting, and the excitement that comes with starting something new.  Have a party, or invite friends over for dinner, or out for cocktails… and feel OK about talking about yourself excitedly, for at least some of the time.

Readers, how do you celebrate professional success?  How open with your friends about your successes? Do you ever get annoyed at friends for how they’re celebrating a win?

* Bonus points to the reader who can find one of those funny career videos that circulated on Facebook a while back — “You do X all day — your friends think you do Y… and your parents think you do Z.”  I know I saw them for like 4 different professions but my Google-Fu is failing me now.

Comments

  1. I think it works best when you think of it as a celebration for your work success, but you don’t talk about it too much. Like, you say to a friend, Come out and have cocktails with me! I feel like celebrating closing this big deal at work! And then maybe you talk about it for a minute or two, but mostly you’re in a good mood and your friend is happy to hang out with you.

  2. Buy yourself jewelry. Or throw a tea party. Orrrrrrrrr throw a tea party while wearing your fancy new jewelry. Win, win, win, really.

  3. You make a speech to the nation, duh.

    Congrats Obama!!!

  4. K... in transition :

    When I passed my state boards for this state, I picked up ice cream and brought it to my nieces (they’re 5 and almost 3). When I got home, I put the initial print-out on my fridge, and I posted it on fb. I would have loved something fancy to commemorate the moment or the like but budget-wise it wasn’t possible. But faces full of ice cream and girls who are thrilled by the surprise of getting ice cream were pretty awesome!

    Sidenote… the laptop I bought 3 weeks ago has malfunctioned to the point of needing to be replaced. thank goodness for warranty, but it means spending another set of hours installing everything all over again. mega-sigh.

    • Ice cream! Had a great review today, wish i was close enough geographically to my nieces to load them up with ice cream as well. :)

    • SF Bay Associate :

      Not just pretty awesome because of the ice cream, but being a wonderful role model to two little girls out with their aunt who is celebrating an accomplishment in her career. What a great message to send them.

  5. I like Kat’s ideas, but I also think you could increase your team’s connections with each other by celebrating together. Closed a big deal? Take everyone out to lunch, especially the junior people who did all the work. It’ll feel like a celebration, and you’ll build loyalty and appreciation.

  6. K... in transition :
  7. karenpadi :

    I don’t know but…I had a “win” last night!

    I was at a book reading and met a high profile senior attorney at a local charity that I regularly donate to and follow. After a short talk, she asked me out to lunch! Yay! I have zero professional female mentors (well, there is one but she is a client).

    Now to write this email. I am usually on the receiving end of these emails these days so I know it’s not as a big a deal as I think it is…but I still have butterflies.

    • K... in transition :

      Hi ________! It was so great to meet you last night at ________. I’d love to set up the lunch you suggested, which of these dates works best for you? _____, _____, or _____. Of course, if none of those are possible, please let me know when you’re free.

      Looking forward to it,
      Karenpadi

    • Former MidLevel :

      Congrats! That is awesome.

  8. You celebrate by NOT saying Ptooey!

  9. K... in transition :

    It’s that time again…

    “A silly/small thing that makes this day awesome is: ___________”

    Mine? Today I was able to find a stream of fox network online, so I can listen to the court tv shows while I take care of things around the house… I realize this probably sounds ridiculous to a group of lawyers but I just love court shows (especially People’s Court) plus it gives me sound in the otherwise very quiet house!

    • I had a 20-minute massage right here in the office. The company has a massage therapist who comes in every other week. It’s not free, but…. Unfortunately, it didn’t help my migraine go away. It didn’t make it worse, though.

    • I have become “the person with the stories” in my office. Which is pretty awesome.

    • …..K starting another thread about happiness, gratitude, and awesomeness.

      Also the bright pink cami I’m wearing. Makes me smile every time I look down my shirt (in a non-creepy way). And a great friend gave it to me, which makes me even happier!

    • Bacon milkshake. Surprisingly delicious! My friend brought me one back from lunch so it was an extra great surprise.

    • I’m making homemade pizza for dinner and plan to pair it with a nice craft beer and the couch!

      • One of my best friends is on a long road trip and decided to break it up by staying the night with me tonight! I cannot wait to see her and am so thankful for her friendship.

    • My first three solo new client appointments, 3 for 3 retained!

    • MissJackson :

      I usually feel like button-front shirts look terrible on me, particularly when tucked in (as I’m top heavy and short-waisted). Yet by some miracle today my boring blue button front looks pretty great tucked in. I honestly can’t figure out what I did differently. But, it’s awesome!

    • My husband and I are doing a photo shoot with our musician friend tonight, and we get to play with some fun new lighting equipment. Oh, and musician friend usually gives us awesome homemade bread when we come over, so just the possibility of delicious baked goods is also a plus :)

    • I am wear a calf-length, A-line, polka-dotted skirt that is very comfortable! It also hides my recent weight gain (from eating) so I feel like my normal size instead of my increased size.

      • Haha I love that you specified that your weight gain is from eating. Mine is too! It’s from all the delicious dairy and bacon I keep subjecting myself to. No shame.

    • I saw an awesome NYT recipe for cherry almond bread pudding, and plan to spend the weekend making that and vanilla ice cream with my new ice cream maker. Yummm.

    • K, if you like court shows — I highly recommend the Judge John Hodgeman podcasts. They are free and wonderfully entertaining.

      A silly/wonderful thing that makes my day awesome is a new summer dress that I am wearing and the fact that my hair did exactly what it was supposed to for a change.

    • Barrister in the Bayou :

      I’m driving out of town this weekend and the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook just became available for checkout through my public library’s website! Eight hours (round trip) on the road may not be enough ;-)

    • I’m happy because my outfit sort of inadvertently reminds me of a female version of a 1970s p * m p. I’ve confirmed this with two friends. One said I should add a hat with a feather in it.

    • MaggieLizer :

      Two hour lunch today that included a honeydew boba.

    • Love this! I’m happy today because my boyfriend is visiting and I’m going to leave work at a decent hour and spend the evening strolling around Toronto and having sushi with him.

    • a colleague told me I had excellent taste in food.

      She and I plan to try a bunch of restaurants near our office. We’re hoping for quiet summer Fridays, so we have time to leave the office for lunch.

    • Mini M&M Blizzard (from Dairy Queen) at lunchtime today. There are hardly any Dairy Queens in the whole state, but one of the few happens to be a mile from my office. :-)

    • Fresh cherries!

    • Ice cream truck!
      As part of “employee appreciation month” at my firm, they hired an old-school ice cream truck and everyone got to go down and pick out an item. I got a Choco Taco!

    • The look on my sweet colleague’s face when she opened up the beautiful necklace made for her by the fabulous Kanye East!

    • Research, Not Law :

      Barefoot under the desk :)

    • Anonymous :

      1. I slept through my alarm this morning but still made it out to my rotation site because the shuttle driver was nice and let me ride even though I was on the list for the earlier departure.
      2. Despite doing my makeup in the bathroom at work (see #1), I think I look pretty darn good today.

    • Discovered a great Italian market in St Pete. Will go back for a long, leisurely visit when DS is in school this fall. For today, canolli & antipasto were enough

    • TN - Atty :

      My wedding dress came in… 2 months early! And it fits!

  10. Gooseberry :
  11. Interesting. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve really celebrated a professional success.

    - Passing the bar = nice brunch out;
    - Getting a job = bought nice bag (but only $119 on Gilt); and
    - Getting a second job 4 years later = dinner out with boyfriend.

    Other than that, I usually “celebrate” a professional success by going straight to bed ASAP to catch up on sleep.

    Do I need to change my way of thinking? It just would not occur to me to reward myself for professional “wins.” To me, most “wins” = just doing my job.

    • Anonymous :

      I think it’s important to acknowledge the small successes, or it becomes drudgery over time. There is a line though. My friends and I joke about a world in which people with normal jobs, spike a document and moonwalk out of the room once it gets through the signature loop.

      The “touchdown” dance after every small accomplishment is a bit much, but when you win the series. Definitely important to acknowledge your own effort.

      • Maine Associate :

        I have been working on a BRUTAL loan closing all week. After reading your comment, I had this mental image of me spiking the closing binder and doing a touchdown dance.

  12. Glass of wine and rent a movie, generally, for a personal/professional win. But I savor alone time. If it’s a “team” win, like when we’d win a verdict in a legal clinic case, we’d all go out for drinks and dessert and high fives.

  13. Oh.so.tired. :

    Bar Review related TJ:

    How far along is everyone on the BarBri Interactive paced program? I am only at 30% and the bar exam is only 3 weeks away!!

    • I’ve been wondering this too. I just got up to 45% today. I’ve also spent extra time doing non assigned things like making flash cards. This is starting to get scary!!

      How many bar studiers read this site? I’ve also been wondering that.

      What bar is everyone taking? I’m taking PA.

    • Thanks for asking, I wanted to ask myself.

      I’m at 32% today, hoping to make it to 33, maybe 34% by tonight. 25.5 days to go. This sucks.

    • I’m taking VA. Took TN last February, and IL in July 2008. I feel like I’m getting to be a pro at these. Any ‘rettes going to be in Roanoke with me this year?

    • I’m bar studying for CA (yuck) but I’m using Themis. Our program is completely interactive and right now I’m 64% through it. That probably doesn’t match up with the way BarBri measures, but for reference, it means I have finished reading the outlines and watching the lectures for all of the subjects (all MBE + about 8 state-specific subjects). I have also done 3-5 essays for each subject. Over 100 MBEs per subject, but only about 150 mixed MBEs. At least 3 (maybe 4) performance tests.

    • Ok, PLEASE don’t stress about this. I did Barbri last summer and one of the best tips from a friend was that you should not try to complete the paced program — it’s impossible! Obviously you need to cover the material, but the paced prog is overkill. You can DO it!

      • This. I didn’t start really studying until after July 4th. I just made it a point to go to all the lectures and type up my notes. I didn’t do anything else until after the 4th and even then I never did the whole program. I passed both states I took. You’ll all be fine!

        • How did you not manage to die of anxiety??? I normally am not anxious at all (AT ALL) and never got nervous before a single test in my life, but I’m a ball of nerves already. I just keep thinking how incredibly bad it would be if I failed.

      • Agreed. However, I do understand the need to have that affirmation that you are doing “enough,” having gone through this only a year ago. I finally decided to go through the paced program thing and decide what *I* needed to do to succeed and checked off anything I had no intention of doing (I’m looking directly at you, full length outline reading assignments), and that helped a lot.

    • I am at about 65%, though I don’t usually “write” the assigned essays, but rather read and make notes about what I would write, then read the answers. So cheating a bit… Sounds like overdoing it a bit, based on other lower comments about not actually doing all/most of the paced program. Hmmm. Thats what I need is more reason to read this site instead of doing my barbri… Haha.

      Good luck ladies!

  14. TJ from this morning – thanks for the helpful replies there! Thought there might be a few more thoughts here this afternoon:

    I currently attend a top-25 school, and was just admitted to a top-10 school. Should I go?
    Factors:
    - I’ll be in a lot less debt if I stay at my current school. It’s up to $100k more (in tuition plus living expenses). I still won’t be in debilitating debt (I’m guessing around $120-150k), but it’s a lot more than I would be in otherwise.
    - I am in a Midwestern city I enjoy, but would love to have the opportunity to move to a coast. I won’t get that straight out of school here, but would be on a coast at the new school and would be able to jump to either one.
    - I’m not sure what the value of a top-ten school on the resume is, especially after your first job. Thoughts on this in the legal profession?
    - I’ll find out if I made law review at my current school before I need to decide. Thoughts on if this should impact (ie, if I make it should I def. stay, versus risking never being on it at the new school?)?

    Any help or stories are appreciated.

    • Former MidLevel :

      Well, like most things in the law, the answer is “it depends.” But some quick thoughts:

      1) $100K is a *lot* of extra debt.

      2) Do you want to stay in the city you are currently in? It seems from your post like the answer is “no, but I will if I have to.” Also, have you ever lived “on a coast”? If you’ve lived in the Midwest all your life, I would strongly encourage you to not romanticize the coasts. There are great places there, sure, but there are trade-offs as well.

      And I’m not sure what you mean by “at the new school” you “would be able to jump to either one.” Either coast? Either a coast or your current city?

      3) The value of a top-ten school depends on *which* top-ten school and what you want to do. Do you want to teach? Work in BigLaw? Something else?

      4) If you want to stay in your city/state/region and you make law review, that greatly enhances your job prospects. So it’s definitely a factor.

      • karenpadi :

        Everything you said here times 1000.

        Two additions:
        1. I would be extremely hesitant to take on any debt right now considering the job prospects of newbie lawyers.

        2. Don’t romanticize the coasts. Perfectly said! Are you considering moving because you are curious or because of specific opportunities? For example, I moved to the coast because there were very very very few opportunities in my home state to go into patent law (and thus use my engineering degree).

    • Just a note that $120K-$150K can be debilitating debt and severely life-choice limiting. I also thought it wasn’t much in law school. I was naive, undereducated about finances, and flatly wrong.

      • I absolutely agree. I took on about 100k more than if I had not transferred. I went to law school to be in public service, but quickly realized that I needed to go into biglaw to pay my bills. I don’t love biglaw, and I work a lot of hours that take me away from family and friends, and I feel like my quality of life is suffering. I ran the numbers the other day, and at this stage in my life/career, I can’t take a job for less than 60k just so I can meet my minimum loan payments. 100k if (combined with my husband’s salary) we want to have an approximation of our current life. However, it would still be a huge drop in quality (or rather, ease) of life.

        OP – this is not to discourage you from transferring (I weighed out what I think are the pros/cons on the other thread), but to make sure you understand the scale of these debt repayments.

      • THIS. Me too. I stupidly believed law schools’ employment data and figured I’d totally get a big firm job and be able to pay back all my loans, easily. Um. No. To my credit this was right before the big ol economic downturn of ’08. But still. I kick myself thinking that I should have been more educated about finances and what those loans would really cost me.

      • I agree with this completely.

    • I just posted on your other thread.

    • STAY. [in my opinion]. The $100k more debt is A LOT more. I have $170k debt from law school and with no modifications it would be about $2k a month. I am on income contingent repayment and it is still over $1k a month. Having so much debt limits your job choices [should you have some, which is not a given today].

    • As FML says, it really depends on what you want to do and where. Full disclosure: I turned down a T-14 school to attend a top-25 midwestern school, and there are days I regret it, but there are also a lot of days I’m thankful to have less debt.

      If you want to stay in the area– or what I’ll call the “regional market” (i.e., Chicago?)– and you want to practice, you’re probably better off keeping debt to a minimum and staying put, especially if you make law review and can finish in the top 1/3 of the class. Your school probably has good contacts in the nearest market. However, if you want to get out to another major market, your school will have less pull. My classmates were competitive in the places they had ties (i.e., the cities they came from originally) and in New York (although there, they really needed to be top of the class), but had a lot of trouble getting into other major markets. If you want to go to the coast, especially right after graduation, you’re going to have a much harder time in your current position. Federal clerkships are easier to land with a top-1o degree (though not impossible from a top-25!), and if you want to teach, that top-10 would be invaluable (if you want to teach, we should talk more).

      The flip side of all of this is the debt– if you graduate with $120k in debt, you will have a lot less flexibility to take a lower-paying job. If your dream is to be a public defender or do public interest work–or even some federal work– a lower debt load means a lot less pressure to give that up or put it off for a few years of document review.

      Also, transferring can be tough. Don’t forget to take into consideration the mental/emotional stress that comes with moving to a new place, in a big city, and trying to make friends with a class of people who all know eachother already. It’s certainly doable, but it can be difficult to manage that alongside adjusting to new classes and trying to do well in your new academic environment.

      Congratulations, by the way! Good luck with whatever you choose. I know it’s hard to try and work out what the distant ramifications of such a big decision will be.

    • new york associate :

      What do you want to do? If you want to be a Supreme Court clerk or a law professor, it MIGHT be worth making the move. If you just want to be a regular old lawyer or if you think you ever want to do anything non-legal, or if you want to do public interest, then stay. An extra $100,000 in loans is debilitating.

      You could also see if New School will offer you scholarship money. Never hurts to ask!

    • OP here –
      I have lived in the Midwest for most of my life, and have lived on the East Coast for part of it. My SO would also like to move to the coasts, so that’s a factor (though not a big one – he’d be willing to be where I can get a job).

      I also am pretty sure I will be able to get *a* job. I’d like to be in MidLaw or BigLaw, and currently have a summer position in my school’s city as well as connections in my Midwestern hometown. Not ideal for gathering more debt, but that’s what I mean when I say “not debilitating” – I won’t be filing for bankruptcy.

      I also may be interested in some career options that nearly require a T-10 school: federal clerkships, teaching, etc. I don’t know for sure right now, but it is hard to close that open door.

    • I am a 2011 grad who did almost exactly this (T25 -> T10 transfer). Overall I am really happy I transferred but I don’t think it would be the right choice for everyone. My observations:

      - I didn’t have a scholarship to my original school, so I am in pretty much the same amount of debt I would have been (maybe a little more due to cost of living) — 150K. It’s a lot of debt and I don’t know if I’ll ever pay it off even though I work at a large firm.
      - I didn’t make law review at my old school, so that was actually the deciding factor for me.
      - Most of my fellow transfers got firm jobs, although a number of them didn’t until 3L OCI. I think all of us at least got a job or a clerkship. It’s hard to say if we did worse than our new classmates or better than our former classmates because you don’t necessarily know what grades people have. A major reason I transferred, though, was that I was doing OCI in 2009, and no one knew how the crash the previous fall would affect OCI hiring. Because I thought top 10% and law review would be required for a firm job from my old school, and I was just outside that cutoff with no law review, I left–it seemed that any incremental boost from a brand name school would help. It turned out that a lot more people from my old school than that ended up with firm jobs, and I probably would have been employable if I’d stayed. However, I know some other T25s are doing much worse than my former school. You probably have a better idea of how competitive your rank will be at your current school than I did, so I would act accordingly.
      - Don’t transfer if you want to go back to the market where your old school is located to practice. I tried and this was not an easy sell in interviews, and I ended up somewhere else that wasn’t my first choice. At the same time, if you want to be in NYC, DC, or have multiple markets open to you, the T10 will probably make that easier.
      - Transferring is really, really hard when you have to move any significant distance. You have to find an apartment, move, go to orientation, do journal write-on, and start OCI all in the span of a few weeks. It took me almost all of 2L to feel “caught up.”
      - Overall, the biggest reason I’m glad I transferred is that I ended up doing really, really well at my new school. This has what has really opened doors for me that likely would not have been possible for me at my old school (mostly clerking at the federal level). If you think you’re going to transfer and then relax about your grades because you’re at a T10, it probably isn’t worth the trouble or the money.

      • ElevenElle :

        I’m so glad you posted, Anon at 3:53. I graduated from a top 25 in 2011 and the job market for us is BRUTAL. I thought my school would be an easy ticket to a job because it’s not TTT. But we all struggled. Very few lucked into any job, less than 5% got to big firms. Go to the top 10 school if you think it’ll help you get a job. Because coming out of a 20-25 school will not mean squat in the current job market.

        • 3:53 Anon :

          Yeah, the T25 seems to be a really mixed bag right now, and it’s really a shame because most of them are great schools with great student bodies. While things were much worse for the class of 2011 than previous classes, my school still did a bit better than what you’re describing–I know this from where my friends ended up. But I also know this isn’t true for the rest of the T25–W&L, for instance, seems to be like what you describe, which makes me incredibly sad because one of my parents is a very loyal W&L Law alum, and it actually was my first choice when I originally applied (I got waitlisted). And I also know many, MANY more people from my old school than my new school who ended up unemployed or, more often, with temporary or school-sponsored positions, which effectively is a stopgap before unemployment.

          That said, it really depends on which school OP attends whether transferring will be worth it or not. If it’s one of the T25s that’s been particularly hard-hit by the recession, then it’s probably worth going because 150K debt and a job is still much better than 15K or so debt and no employment prospects IMO.

    • If you are at all interested in public interest or government work, definitely take both schools’ Loan Repayment Assistance Programs into account. I knew I was headed this direction and transferred to a school with an amazing LRAP and I have much more debt than you and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Good Luck!

  15. SHOES!

  16. Recent Grad :

    Hey guys! I need some advice. Recently my 29 y/0 husband has been talking about going to dental school. I just graduated from law school in may and have a BigLaw job that starts in October. I never knew my husband wanted to go back to school, but I always new he wanted out
    of the career he was in (accounting). To even be considered and qualify to apply he has to complete all sciene prereqs (1 1/2 years) and supplement his low undergrad GPA of 2.9 with a post-bac or begin masters (he worked full time during college and NEVER went to class his first year and failed every single class)— this total time will probably be 3 years, plus 4 years of dental school.

    My quesion is, is it worth it to quit his job and give dental school his best shot?

    Our financial situation: I have $60k in lawschool debt but will be joining biglaw in October and plan to put my whole salary towards paying off my school loans. We have no other debt. My husband makes about $50k a year and for him to quit to pursue dental school would cost us atleast 6 years of his salary (so opportunity cost of $300k) plus the cost of attending (150k). And there’s always the possibility he never gets accepted to dental school and we lost 2 years of salary plus $20k in tuition.

    I know he really sincerely wants to do this, but the high competition for acceptance and huge financial investment is making me weary. Not to mention I dont know whether he will reap the rewards of his investment since he will be 37 at graduation. We want to make this decision together but I honestly dont know whether to tell him to chase this dream or move on.

    • If I were in your position, I would open a continuing dialogue about why he wants to be a dentist. There could be lower cost career options that satisfy his interests and goals without breaking the bank. (Is it working with people? Applying scientific knowledge? Prestige? Getting away from crunching numbers?)

      Other topics to think about and discuss:
      - Do you two want to be that dependent on your biglaw salary for so long? What if there are layoffs? What if you hate your job in three years?
      - Do you two want to have children at some point? How will that work if he’s a fulltime student or just starting his career and you are in biglaw?
      - How will you cope with moving? If he gets accepted into a dental school in another region, is it feasible for your practice to move there? If not, are you willing to live apart for a while so you can keep searching for a job while he starts school, since you’ll need the money?

      None of this should be presented in a give-up-your-dreams way. These ongoing discussions should be about the two of you figuring out what you want from your life together and how to be satisfied with the choice you make.

    • Sounds like an expensive escapist fantasy.

      • Anne Shirley :

        Agreed. 2.9 undergrad GPA is really low. Can he make an appointment with a career counselor to discuss this? Does he acknowledge your concerns? Have concrete plans?

    • MissJackson :

      Isn’t there some middle ground here? Can he take the pre-reqs in the evening or on the weekend at a local university while still earning his salary? Then he could apply to dental school [while still employed] — which at the very least mitigates the loss if he can’t get into dental school. (For what it’s worth, I have zero knowledge about dental school admission.)

      Or would he consider being a dental hygienist? I don’t know what the schooling requirements are, but I assume they are substantially less than dental school, which means perhaps he could get in sooner and finish faster.

      Just throwing out ideas.

      FWIW, my lawyer husband wishes that he had gone to dental school instead. But since he took out $150k in law school loans (and so did I), he’s basically given up the dream.

    • Can he test his commitment by just taking a class or two of the prerequisites without enrolling in a program.

      If he’s committed and excited at the end of it, you probably have to encourage him to chase the dream, but he may discover it isn’t worth it for himself.

      Its still an expense, but a much smaller one.

      • This. For a little while I thought I might want to go into accounting, post-law degree. My plan was to take some community college classes at night to see if I really wanted to do it. I didn’t go through with it. In my mind a radical career switch (which accounting to dentistry is) is like starting your own business – you know you are committed if, when getting home from your day job, you are excited to go to work on your new career/business.

        Also, not sure where you live, but many dentist practices in my area have been hit hard by the downturn – adults skimp on their own dental care when cash flow is low. Just something to consider/investigate.

      • Or test his commitment by working part time in a dental office as an assistant. Not sure how much extra time he has now, but even working a Saturday and maybe a weeknight each week would give him some really good exposure. (plus, if he sticks with it, he would have a solid recommendation for dental school, a relevant part time job during school, and if all goes well maybe even an offer to join the practice as a dentist when he graduates).

        And this gives you extra income while he’s deciding, rather than less.

      • This. Personally, I think its his mistake to make. But he should test the waters before he full-on commits.

    • Having seen 10 classes of associates come (and mostly go), I’d suggest that he at least postpone quitting until you’ve been at your job for a year. You have no idea how you’ll like working full time in BigLaw, and you shouldn’t commit to a lifestyle that requires a BigLaw salary before you even start the job.

    • Sounds like maybe he didn’t know what he really wanted when he was in college making the decision to go into the field he’s in now, but it still makes sense to start this one slowly, maybe do some career counseling to make sure it is the real thing. Once he’s in dental school, I expect he’ll have to drop everything else, but why quit his job now? If this is to be the rest of his life, he can start off with one class per semester (including summers), making sure to get nothing but As. It will take longer, but he’ll still have a quarter century in his profession once he finishes up, and he will be building toward that.

    • I haven’t read all the responses and I don’t have much insight into dental school generally, but just one tidbit for you – I recently had cause to look up the cost over 4 years of Harvard Dental School and it was pushing $400k – and will certainly be over that by the time your husband would start attending. Maybe other schools are closer to the $150k you mention, but definitely double check your assumptions.

    • A different answer: Get a job in the local college system that has tuition remission – possibly for the dental school (many don’t offer full remission for professional degrees, though)

      Look at PT options. For both work and school.

      Look wider than just-dental-school. I’m familiar with a grad student in mechanical engineering that is researching phenomena for why molars crack.

      Why dental school specifically?

      Check out what your local dental school has for prospective students. Can you connect with alumni and see what they are doing/talk with some about alums about their experience and their peers (including talking about some who didn’t make it)?

      Eyes wide open, and all that.

    • Anonymous Poser :

      Yes, yes, yes to what everyone else said. I used to work at a nursing school, and such a low percentage of the people who applied were accepted. And then some folks who were accepted into the program were not successful. Obviously nursing is a hot field, and I can’t speak to whether dentistry is.

      Why dentistry? What about dentistry interests him? Is there anything else that would satisfy that?

      Has he interviewed any dentists to find out what they do and don’t like about being a dentist? I have heard that it’s a tough gig: Most people are not happy to see the dentist is how the rumors go.

      What are the GPA and test score requirements of schools that interest him? Schools in general?

      How many applicants do dental schools have vs. the number of applicants?

      What’s the job outlook?

    • I am fairly certain that it is the new “thing” to have a mid-life crisis in your late 20s. I have a friend whose husband suddenly decided he wanted to be a pharmacist (as opposed to english teacher) and needed science pre-reqs, etc. Here’s what they are doing: He continued working and taking as many pre-reqs at night/online as possible for the past year or so. As of this summer, he has reached a point where it makes sense to stop working to take a full course load and start studying for entrance exams. Pharm school is expensive (I would assume in the same ballpark as dental school) and they will have to take out loans to pay for it, but they are able to live off of wife’s income in the interim and, in theory, the pay-off will make it all worthwhile.

      Like others suggested, I would encourage him to take a couple of classes while working to feel it out, and continue working for as long as possible if he decides to continue on that path. Also, see if the dental school near you will allow him to sit in on a class or if they have admissions counselors who can talk to him about what he’s really looking at getting into. He might think he wants to do it, but his idea about dental school/being a dentist might be very different from reality (kind of like how some people think lawyering = law & order and law school = debate class).

    • Good advice from everyone else.
      I think if he got good grades on his science prereqs he could pretty much ignore the otherwise-low gpa (might just want to discuss why that first semester briefly on his application, providing a corrected gpa without it). Especially as there’s been a break, and especially if he now goes to a different institution.

      But something you don’t address at all – are you out of law school with so little debt because your husband worked full time at accounting to put you through law school? At least supplementing your support to a nice level? Then imho you owe him support in his endeavors, whether you approve of them or not. You may advise him, give him some research angles, bring up new topics of reflection. But the decision is his, and the moral obligation to support yours. Just mentioning this because you make it sound like it’s your decision, and it really shouldn’t be at all, perhaps it’s just bad communication on your part or bad interpretation on mine, sorry :-).

      That said for such a radical change, if I were him I’d consider doing science reqs as evening classes (many, many people do) at the local university extension, or at least something like cutting back to half-time accounting, taking a leave of absence, not cutting ties with current employers totally. And definitely supplement studying with volunteer work at the local free dental clinic. for both resume purposes and reality check.

      • My sister did a version of this, thought she started when she was a bit younger, about 25. She decided she wanted to go to medical school and hadn’t done the necessary undergrad prereqs (though she did graduate with honors). She made it work by getting a job as a research assistant in a lab at the local university, where she could then take the prereq courses tuition-free and at night.

        She’s now a practicing radiologist, so it all worked out, but she and her family did go through some stressful years. They had two kids while my sister was in medical school (couldn’t wait or she would’ve been too old), and her husband picked up a lot of slack in their home life for a long time.

  17. I don’t have any helpful advice at the moment, but I’m pretty sure that we go to the same law school…

  18. I keep a bottle of good Scotch whisky in my office.

    For celebrations.

    And for the opposite of celebrations.

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      I wish your office was down the hall from me.

    • The partner I work for has a mini-fridge in his office with a bottle of champagne and a six pack of beer at all times, so he can be ready to “bring the party” when necessary.

      • I also am prepared to “bring the party” whenever necessary, but that’s just because where ever I go, there I am. Consider it broughted.

      • MaggieLizer :

        If the partners keep booze in their offices, does that mean associates can do the same?

        • MissJackson :

          Yes, but I think as an associate you probably need to be much more discrete about it. I’m thinking of partners who have booze sort of openly displayed in their office (a fancy decanter of scotch or similar) — I wouldn’t do that. Tucked away in a drawer, though? Totally fine, imho. If it’s not against the rules for partners to have booze, it’s not against the rules for associates either.

      • At my last firm, several associates had boxes of wine or some bottles of harder stuff. It was great for celebrations/bad days/end of the month time-entry/because it’s 5 o’clock. I haven’t been at my new firm long, but I imagine that certain drawers clank when you open them.

  19. I think it’s very important to celebrate professional wins — not talking about getting all required signatures on a document, necessarily, but certainly winning summary judgment or winning a trial deserves celebration! And even in the transactional law context, I have many friends and colleagues who will have a closing dinner to celebrate closing a big deal.

    In the law setting, for the kinds of wins I’m thinking about, I think you should celebrate with the whole team — and maybe even the client, sometimes, too. (Know your client!) Even if you’re not the team leader (as in the situation karenpadi and EC MD mentioned above), you can still plan something and invite the team — I’d say especially if you are the senior associate or counsel on the team. If you’re the most junior person, maybe not, but perhaps you could suggest it/offer to do the planning/logistics legwork for a dinner out?

    For professional wins that are individual — passing the bar, getting one’s CPA designation or getting a new job, for example — I agree with Kat and the commenters above. A new job is something everyone understands as worthy of celebration (and people know it usually takes a lot of effort on your part) so I think it’s great to have a gathering or party to celebrate and invite work and non-work friends. For more individual things — dinner with SO or best friend, or treat yo’ self!

    Although, just writing this out, I’m now remembering that at my prior firm (MidLaw) we took all the first-years out to celebrate their having passed the bar. . . .

  20. When I have even a medium-sized win (getting a few $k grant, paper accepted by a journal), everything I do seems rosy for a day or two. I usually find myself declaring that something goofy, like a McD’s hot fudge sundae or a long candlelit bath is in celebration of that victory.

    Alternately, if you have a partner in life, or good friends who supported you in this, you might want to make them a dinner/buy drinks to thank them for being there. (And if have a significant other, I certainly hope they’ll ‘celebrate’ when you’re alone later)

    Looking at Amy H’s comment about if you’re the junior partner, I would think you could ask the person who led the charge, in a very expectant tone of voice, how you all celebrate your win.

  21. I have a friend who went through ROTC in the late 80′s and made FULL BIRD COLONEL last year (yeah, I’m still excited for her) in the Army. They were having a ceremony for her. Her oldest is at VMI. She had the Army delay the ceremony (not the conferral of rank) until her husband, sons and daughters could all attend. They all got to hear about her hard work and success, and got to hear appreciation from others. There is an element of “the family serves together” but it was a little different with officer and active reserve status.

    For me, when something goes well, a nice dinner out with the family is good. If I’ve invested a lot of time, a few days/week off to reclaim my balance and remind me of the rest of the world – is even better. A trip to the National Women’s Art Museum is on my next “refresh” day.

  22. CorporateChickee :

    Honestly… When I have a professional “win” I call my Dad :) He has always been a professional role model for me and wants to see me succeed in the business world! So, when something great happens at work, I call Dad. I can gush a bit, because if you can’t brag about your successes to your own parents, who can you? Plus, I know he’s going to be super proud of me and give me that proverbial “pat on the back” that I want. May sound dorky – but it’s the truth!

    • This! Our oldest daughter (my step) does this (she’s in grad school at Cornell at 19).

      I try to send something fun that commemorates it. When she passed her qualifying exams, I send a 4 pack of Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer for passing her OWLs.

      P.S. Would someone tell the ‘bot that I am not posting too fast. Sheesh.

  23. Oil in Houston :

    If it’s something that I’ve been working on for a while / has been a serious pain I treat myself to something personal, last time was a Mulberry bag (the bayswater model) that I had been drowling on for years…
    If it’s something that made my husband’s life a nightmare at the same time (me complaining about it every day, working 15 hours like now) I treat him as well, like taking him to a nice restaurant, or if we have time, take him for a weekend break to a nice hotel.

  24. I think in this current economy, how to celebrate a professional win requires a great degree of tact and sensitivity. You need to pick people to celebrate with who are unlikely to be jealous or threatened by your success.

    I like to celebrate professional success with my husband and select friends who know my career challenges and full situation enough to be seriously excited for me too.

    • My husband and I have really different feelings about this. Probably due to a combination of my upbringing and my personality, I’m very uncomfortable with celebrating success. Even the smallest announcement feels like unattractive bragging. I do know that I’m extreme about this.

      My husband, on the other hand, is much more of a self-promoter and loves the idea of a big party in his honor. He’s an academic and he was promoted to full Professor this spring. He really wants me to give the big party, but it makes me so uncomfortable. Of course, I’m doing it anyway to make him happy. . . .

  25. Back to the original question, I buy jewellery to celebrate. A malachite necklace for my first proper job. A pair of simple Bulgari earrings for work when I made partner!

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