Guest Post: From Growing Up Poor to Working in Big Law

Growing Up Poor | CorporetteHow does your background — like growing up poor — affect your life in Big Law or other conservative jobs? After all, Big Law (and other Big jobs) can be interesting places, full of strange traditions, big personalities, and a lot of assumptions — that everyone knows what to wear yachting or for a golf scramble, for example. Today, I’m happy to welcome back Ruth Moore*, a lawyer turned actress (who’s currently a recurring character in a TV series) with some deep thoughts on how growing up poor affected her legal career. Ruth has guest posted before, with a Tales From the Wallet post about how to break free from golden handcuffs (and get used to paying tuition again). Welcome back, Ruth! – Kat.

This post came about because I was telling Kat about how I’d always been curious which of my Big Law colleagues had also grown up below the poverty line. I have this theory that there were certain habits and ways of thinking from growing up poor that stuck with me as a young adult, when I suddenly went up a couple of rungs on the socioeconomic ladder.

Some of those habits were sartorial. For example, even though I was earning a lot of money, I was still very cheap with myself, especially in the beginning. I distinctly remember buying a pair of jeans from H&M for $39.99 and thinking, “Wow, I’m buying forty-dollar jeans at full price, I really made it!” For work clothes, I splurged on two skirts and three shirts (deeply discounted) from a chain that represented, to me, the height of luxury: The United Colors of Benetton. Dry cleaning seemed too frivolous so I’d just wash them by hand. I wore my Aldo heels with the same pride with which my officemate wore her Louboutins. I didn’t get a professional haircut until my fourth year as a lawyer, opting to trim it myself instead. It’s kind of a miracle that no one reported me to “What Not to Wear.” (Pictured: Money, originally uploaded to Flickr by loopoboy 2.0.)

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Guest Post: Pumping at Work 101

Pumping at Work 101 | CorporettePumping at work: it’s one of the toughest parts of going back to work after maternity leave. In past posts we’ve covered what to wear to pump at work, how to manage pumping in different offices, pumping during work travel, and how to dress professionally when you go back to work (when your pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit). Today Reader K gives you some basic tips for pumping at work and recommends a few helpful products. Thank you, K! 

My best friend gave me great advice before I went back to work: The dread is worse than the reality. I was nervous about leaving my little guy with someone I barely knew; I was nervous I would not be as good at my job as I had been before I left for leave; I was nervous that I would sit at my desk missing him all day. Basically, I was nervous about everything.

But now, seven months in, it hasn’t been that bad. For the most part, I have managed to focus completely on whatever I’m doing, whether work or home life. That means I am really efficient at work and then don’t really check my email once I get home until after my son goes to bed. (Fortunately, we hit the baby jackpot and got a great sleeper.) The hardest part, though, was pumping at work. After reading comments here and talking to my sister and some friends, I got into my routine. (Pictured: breast pump overload, originally uploaded to Flickr by madichan.

Read the rest of the post on CorporetteMoms… (but feel free to comment, on topic, on either page)… 

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N.B. PLEASE KEEP YOUR COMMENTS ON TOPIC; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course I highly value all comments by my readers, I’m going ask you to please respect some boundaries on substantive posts like this one. Thank you for your understanding!

Guest Post: Planning for Retirement — But Not How You Think

Planning for Retirement | CorporetteRetirement — and retirement hobbies — are likely a long way off in your mind. But I like to be prepared, so I asked Lisa from Privilege what those of us who are still working should know. Can one prepare to pursue hobbies? Were there things she thought she’d love but hasn’t -— or hobbies that, once she got deeper into them, she realized she could have made the time for, earlier? Lisa has guest posted* with us before, pondering the things you might miss about a corporate job once you’re out, and — in one of our top posts — advice from the VP/hiring manager level. Welcome back, Lisa!  -Kat

Many of us dream of retiring and finally having time for Anything But Work. I’ve taken a couple of stabs at retirement myself already, at 57. And, as it turns out, unsurprisingly for you smart folks, there’s more to it than romping around not working.

This is not to say that hobbies, travel, and sofa-intensive afternoons aren’t out there. They are. And they are good. The thing is, they’re even better when you’ve done a little advance research. And, it’s also true that many of us who’ve had jobs with responsibility and authority, despite the associated stress, don’t want to toss it all aside. We’d rather replicate what we love, add new pursuits, and get some autonomy over when we do what. (Pictured: Angela’s Garden Fabric-Back Leather Palm Garden Glove, $18.99 at Amazon.)

It’s worth planning to make that all happen.

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Summer Associate Series: Ending an Internship Positively

How to End Your Internship Gracefully | CorporetteHow can you end an internship positively?  This week in our Summer Associate Series,* as the summer starts to wind down (for some, at least!), I thought we’d take a look back at some of our best posts on how to wrap up your summers, whether they be as summer associates or interns.  (If you do still have a few weeks of work left, though, you may want to check out our post on how to get the work you want, and how to network when you’re at the bottom of the ladder.)

Readers, what are your best tips for interns on how to end on a strong note?  How important is the home stretch in terms of making an impression?

(*Name aside, we hope this series will be helpful to ANY intern, whether you’re a law student or another woman interning in a conservative office for the summer.)  Check out our previous posts on general summer associate style, what to wear for the creative summer associate events, general business etiquette tips, and business lunch etiquette tips.

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Guest Post: How to Leave a Company Town (And Conduct a Long Distance Job Search)

How to Leave a Company Town | CorporetteIs your job very location-specific — and have you ever wondered what would happen to your career if you picked up and moved away from the “company town,” embarking on a long distance job search in the process? Today’s guest post comes to us from one of my best friends from law school, Mindy Barry, who was already pretty senior on Capitol Hill when I met her.  Since law school, she’s accomplished the incredible not once but twice: building a great career as a chief counsel on the Hill, and then chucking it all to build a new legal career in Michigan.  For all of the readers who feel chained to their city because of their job, I asked Mindy to share her experience.  (We have talked about finding a job in a new city, but not in ages!)  Mindy, thank you so much for sharing with us! – Kat.

Imagine you are midway into the prime of your career, you are exactly where you aspired to be professionally, you have the position you  worked for years to achieve, and you decide to give it all up to move for reasons unrelated to your career. How would you go about finding a new job in a new profession in a new city where you know almost no one?

That’s the situation I found myself in about seven years ago when my husband and I decided to move from Washington, D.C., to Michigan. At the time, I was a chief counsel on Capitol Hill, where I had worked for my entire professional career. Although I am a lawyer, I had never worked in a traditional law practice and was not sure how to parlay my experience dealing in politics and legislation into a challenging and rewarding career outside of the Washington Beltway. Making the move was an exciting but scary prospect. Looking back on that time in my life, here are some things I know now that I wish I had known then:  [Read more…]

Closing Career Doors

specialized jobsDo you close career doors when you take a specialized job?  How do you decide if it’s worth the risk of closing doors behind you?  Reader A wonders:

How to decide when you are at a career crossroads, if a great opportunity comes up, but it might close doors. (My best friend just got a great offer to run a $50MM business, but it’s an area that peripheral to her primary area of expertise, solar/wind, so she’s worried about LT ramifications, even though she’d expand her skillset.) What factors are important when you are opening one door and closing another?

Great question, Reader A.  We’ve talked about pros and cons to changing careers, how to change careers, and how to use LinkedIn to secretly investigate a new career — but we haven’t talked about closing career doors by taking a specialized job.  I’m really excited to hear what the readers have to say about this one, since obviously I’ve taken a career path (media law to fashion blogging) that has diverted me, a bit, from my original career path.

Here’s my $.02:  I don’t actually think doors are closed, even if you leave the career entirely. [Read more…]