How to Tell Your Beloved Mentor You’re Quitting

How to Quit When Your Mentor Is Your Boss | CorporetteYou’ve been offered a new job — but how do you tell your beloved mentor and boss that? Reader L wonders how to quit your job when your mentor is your boss.

I am a fifth year associate and have been at my current firm for just over a year. Recently, an unexpected job opportunity presented itself and over the course of the past two months I have quietly been going through the interview process. Simultaneously, a mentor at work offered me a few great opportunities. For example, I tried and won my first jury trial! I’ve now been offered this new job and am going to take it. My question is how best to handle my resignation when my mentor has so recently invested in my development. I feel like I am somehow betraying him! Help, please.

We’ve talked about how to quit your job with style and grace, as well as how to conduct an exit interview, but we haven’t talked about the often emotional side of leaving, including the tough job of telling your beloved mentor or boss that you’ve taken a new job. I have a few thoughts up front: [Read more...]

The Top Ten Things to Keep In Your Desk

The Top Ten Things to Keep In Your Desk | CorporetteIt’s a perennial question: what to keep in your desk? We haven’t talked about this in a while, so I thought we should discuss reader J’s question:

Can you do a post on essential things to keep in your office/desk? I ask this because I never think of things to bring in until it is too late. Recent example — I’m about to go to a client meeting, and I look down and see my bright pink nail polish half chipped off on every nail. Of course I didn’t have any nail polish remover in my office, so I waste my 10 minutes before the meeting looking around for remover. Other examples include: nail clipper and file, bandaids, Advil.

Some of my favorite posts on the blog are on things to keep in your office — drugstore stuff for your office, tech stuff to buy for your office, food to keep at the office, and the clothes that should live at your office. We’ve also done a fun post on different uses for office supplies (in a pinch). But we haven’t talked about this in a long while, so let’s discuss. Readers, please list your top ten absolute essentials for your office! What have you been surprised to get a lot of use out of?

For my own $.02, if I had to set up a totally new office, I would bring: [Read more...]

How Personal Can You Keep Your Personal Life?

Binocular Smile, originally uploaded to Flickr by cobalt123.How do you fend off questions from nosy coworkers — particularly when it’s a “plus one” business event and you’re by yourself? Reader R, moving to a new city, doesn’t want to feel like she’s under a microscope at an upcoming picnic:

I’m relocating & starting my first professorship at a university. The faculty are having a picnic in honor of the new members (myself and one other person) before the semester begins. This is also a “family & signifcant others” event and therein lies the problem: I’m single & moving out of state. Translation: I won’t know anyone or be able to invite anyone. Not to sound shallow, but I don’t want to field questions about my personal life (i.e dating, engaged, etc) because it is really no one’s business. But with children & spouses/so’s running around, I feel as though it is inevitable. Age, too, plays a factor. I am by far the youngest faculty member…

Congrats on your new professorship and the new city — it sounds like an adventure! I think you’re right to expect some curiosity about your personal life, but I think that’s par for the course for any smaller office. I think the bigger (and more impersonal) the office is, the more you can stay private — but even then, the more you become “known” (particularly when you start supervising people), the more people become curious about the basic facts of our personal life.  So while I can understand not wanting to get into the deeper details of your personal life, you may be heading into the office with the slightly wrong attitude. It isn’t an interrogation — people just want a simple answer, and I think will find it weirder if you decline to answer than if you answer briefly. Some sample scripts for you: [Read more...]

What to Wear on the First Day at a Very Casual Office

Pictured: Clean slate, originally uploaded to Flickr by mikecogh. What should you wear on your first day at a very casual law office? Reader F wonders…

Thanks for the great blog – it’s been holding my hand, fashion-wise, since I started law school. I have a question: what should an articling student wear to work (especially on my first day) at an extremely casual law firm populated with some very prestigious lawyers? By “extremely casual” I mean that the last time I saw my principal at the office she was wearing ripped jeans and a vintage poncho/jacket sort of thing. She is a very senior & highly respected lawyer, and I am a lowly student, so my quandary is this: on the one hand, I don’t want to look like an overdressed nerd in a suit, but on the other hand, I clearly do not have the seniority to dress as she does. How to split the difference? What should I wear on my first day? Thanks!

Great question, F — you’re right to assume that you need to bank some credibility before you can start wearing very casual things. We’ve talked about how to have a great first day on the job, as well as what to wear for a business casual office, but we haven’t talked about what to wear at a very casual office. For my $.02, this is very field specific — and for most lawyers I’m going to fall on the “be safe and wear a suit” side of the continuum.  Your job involves representing other people, not yourself; your job requires you to get immediate respect on first impressions (e.g., from judges and juries) – and your boss wants to know that you understand that.  Since you describe this as a “very casual office,” I’m guessing the odds are approximately 90% that you’re going to immediately take off the blazer and leave it in your office — so make sure you like your outfit sans blazer — but you still want to show up and have that “I’m here and ready to work!” conversation in your suit. (You can then let your blazer live at the office to become your wear-with-everything black blazer.)   [Read more...]

First Day on the Job: How to Make Your First Day a Great Day

first day tipsWith interns everywhere starting soon (to say nothing of college graduates), I thought we should have an open thread about what your best advice is for the first day on the job (and, hey, your first week!). We’ve talked about how to build a wardrobe for your summer internship (as well as no-duh tips in general for your summer internship); we’ve also talked about how to avoid acting young, and how to look professional without looking like you think you’re in charge — but I don’t think we’ve talked, specifically, about first day tips.  For my $.02, these are some of my top tips:

Before the First Day

  • Read the company’s website, particularly if they have a “Press” section.  Consider Googling further to learn more than just what’s in the press release on their website.
  • Google your company to see if it’s been in the news or mentioned otherwise.  If you haven’t already set up a Google Alert, do it now.
  • Research your liaison.  If you have the name of your contact or liaison, search for their name on the company website.  You may find mentions in press releases or a bio, but for smaller companies you may just find a listing of responsibilities.  You may also consider checking out their LinkedIn or even their Facebook page.  There is, of course, a fine line between being creepy and being well prepared, so be smart about what you ask him or her about at your first meeting.  Fair game:  responsibilities at the job, career path, school background.  Getting creepy: your making any comments about kids, significant others, or recent vacations the person may have posted about on Facebook.

First Day Tips

  • Look as professional as you did on the job interview. [Read more...]

What To Do When Your Boss Has It Out For You

what to do when your boss hates you.indexedHow can you avoid getting fired when your boss has it out for you? In general, how can you deal with horrible bosses? Reader M has a good question:

I know you’ve covered things like workplace etiquette and tips on dealing with co-workers, but do you have any suggestions on how to deal with horrible bosses? A friend of mine has been having issues with a boss (male, if that matters) who has been bullying her recently through means of intimidation, threatening her position in the workplace, and embarrassing her in front of clients. With a downward spiraling economy and many people being laid off, what is the best approach to dealing with someone who is looking for a reason to fire you?

Ouch. I’m sorry for your friend, M! Vivia Chen at The Careerist just covered what to do when you’re getting fired, so this seems timely to me.  Everyone has a lousy manager at some point in their life, some of whom actually hate you.  I once clashed so badly with a superior that she actually threw a redweld at my head (yep, Professional was her middle name); I’ve fortunately blocked out most things about that time in my life beyond the fact that I woke up, every day, to Whitney Houston’s song, “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay.“  You will get out.  Here are some tips for the friend with the bad boss:
[Read more...]