The Top 5 Things You Might Miss About Corporate Life (Once You’re Out)

Once you’re out of the corporate world, what will you miss?  If you’d known you’d miss it, might you have appreciated it more?  Today’s guest poster, Lisa Carnochan from Privilege, has put together the top 5 things she misses about the corporate life — as well as what she doesn’t. I recently met Lisa in person, and I’m absolutely thrilled to have her guest posting again — her first, Career Advice from the Hiring/VP Level, remains one of Corporette’s top posts.  Enjoy, readers! – Kat  (Pictured below: Empty desk, originally uploaded to Flickr by Aldric van Gaver.)

Empty desk, originally uploaded to Flickr by Aldric van Gaver.I imagine that most of you reading Corporette are working women. I was one myself for many years. And, now, it appears, I’ve semi-retired. I remember dreaming, on grey days full of mean emails and meandering meetings, of what it would be like to be done with it all. And now I know. Here’s what I miss, and what I don’t miss at all. By the way, you’ll notice I don’t mention the paycheck. That goes without saying. Getting paid rocks.

5 Things I Miss About Working

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1. Job interviews

I’m not kidding. When else do you have such a clear chance to package yourself up all shiny and valuable-like? I also love the problem-solving aspect. Ask your interviewer questions about the challenges he or she faces and then show your qualitative analytic skills on the fly. You’re their drive-by consultant. Works like a charm and makes one feel so damn smart.

2. Performance reviews

In regular life, nobody ever sits you down formally and tells you how you’re doing. Nobody even tells you what the criteria are, most of the time. Performance reviews are a unique opportunity. Just make sure you know your management’s expectations, do your best to meet or exceed, and make the right relationships so you can advertise yourself with some dignity.

3. Teams

I miss lunch with the team. I miss the banter of software architects with IQs over 180. I even miss meetings. Gather a group of intelligent people, lay out a clear problem, manage the agenda tightly and with humor, focus on forward progress. Voila. The occasional flashes of brilliance.

4. Testosterone days in ladylike shoes

Lanvin Bow-Toe Suede SlingbackI’ve always been a sucker for lady shoes. Don’t like to wear them much, now that I actually am a lady of leisure.  But when I stomped the corridors of power, told on one occasion I had more testosterone than the boys, lady shoes amused me to no end. I’d love an excuse to buy these Lanvin Bow-Toe Suede Slingbacks, for example (available at Bergdorf Goodman for $695).  And I might miss the stomping too, just a bit.

5. Routine

Work can be boring, right? Every day the same thing. Up with the alarm, grab tea or coffee, commute, work, home, rinse, repeat. On the other hand, routines, if you build in stuff that’s good for you, can be your best friend. I used to squeeze my exercise in between rolling out of bed and sitting down at my desk. Semi-retirement is characterized by a lot of, “What now?” The effort to answer, “Eat my vegetables and go to yoga,” is not insubstantial, in the absence of structure.

5 Things I Don’t Miss

1. Wondering if I could have done it.
2. Resenting those who had done it.
3. Wondering what “it” really was.
4. Fear of losing; the deal, the promotion, my long-suffering capacity to hold back tears of rage or disappointment.
5. Mean bosses, treacherous subordinates, deceptive peers, stupidity and cruelty of any sort. Here, in the world beyond work, one can simply walk away from most of the bad guys. Which makes us wonder, could we do that in our work life too? After, of course, trying our best for a good long time.
Readers, what do you think you’ll miss about the corporate life, once you’re out?

(L-2)

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Comments

  1. I work, and still don’t have an excuse to buy $600+ shoes…I wish…

  2. Lisa – just wanted to say I always enjoy your writing and perspective!

  3. Diana Barry :

    Oh my lord, the LAST thing that I would miss would be performance reviews. I hate them, or should I say, Ellen-like, that I HATE them.

    The other thing that I would, equally, never miss would be billable hours. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.

    I would miss dressing up, though! :)

    • MissJackson :

      Amen, on all counts.

      I can think of a lot of things that I would miss, but performance reviews would not be one of them. At least not in the current BigLaw format.

      • Yeah, I wish performance reviews were a beneficial experience. My manager does nothing to prepare for them and only ever says, “You’re doing great” with no details beyond that. It makes me feel like I could do crap work and no one would even notice or care. Getting consistent feedback and having a sense of progress is what I associate most with being in school, not with being in the corporate world.

  4. I don’t relate to this AT ALL. The number one thing you miss about working is Job Interviews? How often did you interview? And performance reviews? *sigh*

    • What is a HIGH WASP???? Am I the only one that finds this ludicrous?
      http://amidprivilege.com/about/

      • Anon – An huge part of my blog is tongue-in-cheek. Much of the rest is cultural anthropology. Maybe I should title the blog WASPS Can Be Democrats Too:).

        • Anon Canadian :

          I love that! “WASPS Can Be Democrats Too” should definitely be a subtitle, lol.

        • As the product of a a very strange liaison between a middle-class, suburban Ashkenazi Jew and a working-class, rural Irish Catholic – I love your blog. Don’t change it.

      • Anonymous Poser :

        I’m not sure whether you are the only one: I can speak only for myself. I think it’s amusing. And I appreciate some of the insights shared on the blog about the WASP subculture and that mindset…

        Of course, there are many other reasons to recommend Privilege….
        ;-)

    • I have had perhaps 50 job interviews, over the past 30 years. Coming back to work after maternity leave, moving from chemicals to high tech, I had to interview so many places before someone was willing to take a risk on me. In those days, I enjoyed the adrenaline. Now I like interviews because I get to review what I’ve learned, and I have more attention available to get to know people.

      • I liked interviews before the market crashed. But things pretty much went to heck while I was mid-way through law school, and I went on so many interviews, for my 3L year, during my clerkship, and while working in an interim job post-clerkship, that just went no where, that they just seemed like they were taunting me- “another interview for a job you’ll never get, hahaha”

        Who knows, maybe I’ll grow to love them again sometime, though.

    • I guess if performance reviews were really what they’re meant to be, the feedback would be valuable and useful, but I have to say I haven’t really ever gotten meaningful performance feedback in the context of an annual review.

      I think, though, what I would miss is being able to be smart, make a recognized contribution, have the outcome be better for my having been part of it. I mean, I can make good cookies, but the bake sale isn’t significantly better for my presence – but some of our business direction is.

      • Anonymous :

        ‘some of our business direction is.’ That’s a lovely perspective and attitude. I’m sure many things are better for your input and effort.

      • anon, you nailed it. Given her list, I think Lisa’s work environment was significantly different than ours. That being said, I’m less than a decade in. I’d hope after 30 years, things could be different.

      • I agree regarding performance reviews. It always seems like managers focus on mistakes and flaws so that they don’t have to award bonuses or pay raises.

        And I’ve never worked for a company that allowed or, better yet, encouraged feedback regarding my manager’s performance. Reviews should be both up and down. I have an MBA. I know that there are such companies, but I’ve never been in one. It’s just so frustrating because people get promoted and they stay there, regardless of their abilities.

        It should be a meritocracy, but it’s not. So the only motivation managers have is to stay where they are. If we were allowed to provide feedback on their performance, they’d treat us better.

    • I’m in the minority with Lisa, I guess. I like job interviews. Sure, I get a little nervous and worry that I’ll blow it. But during the actual interview, it usually goes really well and I enjoy meeting new people in my profession.

      It probably helps that I have never been truly desperate for anything I’ve interviewed for. If I were running out of money and really had to find something quickly, I might not feel the same way.

      *knocks on wood*

      • I think things have changed a lot in the poor economy. My experience in bad economies is that employers are likely to waste applicants’ time more so when they had a dearth of applicants and might have to worry about offending someone who they might want in the future.

  5. I’m not out of the corporate world by any means, but I work at home whenever I’m not traveling. The thing I miss the most is the camaraderie of teams. Whenever I am at a company, and I see a group of people going out to lunch together, I am a tiny bit sad and envious.

    • Yes, camaraderie is huge. I would miss it. My friends who stay home on maternity leave say that what they miss the most is adult conversation – I imagine retirement is much the same.

  6. anon for this :

    Thank you to those yesterday who gave me advice on working with a recruiter as a junior lawyer. A follow-up question: does anyone have experience with San Francisco Bay Area legal recruiters (the kind that get paid by law firms)? I’m a 2010 grad working in-house looking to go to a firm, if that makes a difference.

  7. Black Tie? :

    Early threadjack – trying again after this comment got stuck in moderation on the last post.

    My friend is getting married next Saturday in a completely over the top black tie wedding. I was always under the impression that black tie still included cocktail length dresses, but my friend has been very adamant and not-so-subtle about the fact she wants us all to wear long gowns. (Yes, she’s being a bit of a bridezilla.)

    So here’s where you come in:
    Assuming I won’t end up putting aside her preferences and wearing a perfectly nice cocktail dress, where on earth can I find a youthful and not very expensive long gown???

    I’ve tried Nordstroms and BCBG. I’m also petite, and tend to look like I’m drowning in long gowns. And I don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars getting a dress hemmed. I also am pear-shaped, meaning most clingy styles don’t really work.

    What has worked for you in the past in finding black tie-appropriate dresses??? Please help!

    • Have you checked out Nordstroms online? This is my go to for any kind of party dress because they have way more sizes / styles available. Shipping is free (both ways) and you can always return the items to the store if you prefer. I’m sure the mail guy knows when there is a wedding because this huge box arrives with usually 6-7 dresses inside.

      Good luck!

    • CA lawyer :

      You might get enough of a deal at a thrift store, especially one run by the Junior League or in a fancy area of town, that dress + moderate tailoring shouldn’t be too expensive. Also, I’ve seen some nice dresses on a dress rental service, I think called Rent the Runway.

      • i was going to suggest this, you could get one for $50 (and order two sizes) and get it asap

      • Oh. Yes. Rent the Runway. They actually send you 2 sizes with your order.

        • Totally agree with Rent the Runway! I ordered two different dresses for a very fancy black tie wedding I had to go to with the BF. One dress was a total disaster (completely see through… ummm, great), but one size of the other worked out great. If you order one dress, you get two sizes and can get a second dress (2 sizes) for $25. A great option if you don’t want to make an investment in a black tie gown right now.

      • Also, not too be argumentative, but I would NEVER order something from Rent the Runway, or similar. I just can’t imagine being that certain that some dress I love the look of will work for me. I can’t count the number of times I’ve adored something online, and then when I go to the store (or worse case, order it), and try it on, it’s a disaster! Murphy’s Law or whatever, but to me, picking one out and paying for it and then having to wear it to a wedding is just asking for me to look like 10 lbs of sausage in a 5 lb casing or something.

        • MissJackson :

          If none of the sizes (you can pick two) that you order from RTR fit, you don’t pay. As long as you have a backup plan in place (in other words, receive the dresses soon enough to determine whether they will actually work and have time to buy something else instead if necessary), it seems like a reasonable solution.

          Full disclosure, I’ve never actually used a RTR dress, but I certainly would consider trying it for black tie.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Check out places that might still have cheap prom dresses – Sears, Deb, etc. If you are only wearing it one night than the quality shouldn’t matter too much so long as it doesn’t look visibly cheap. I also bought a great gown on mega discount at a bridal store. It was a floor model sample bridemaids dress but just really pretty and plain.

    • I said this over in the other post, but in case you didn’t see it…

      I’d suggest Lord and Taylor. I had to buy a cocktail dress this summer, but I am very hourglass verging on pear with heavy legs, so short dresses are not flattering on me. I was really underwhelmed by Macy’s and Nordstrom (the two chains closest to my apartment), so I drove out to the ‘burbs to hit up Bloomie’s and L&T. I found a TON of options (both short and long) at L&T, and the one I settled on (that I am totally and completely in love with) came to less than $150 since it was on sale at the time.

    • Bursting out :

      In a similar situation a couple years ago, I found a nice long black, spaghetti-strap gown on sale at Bloomingdale’s for ~$100. It was kind of a grecian style, so it wasn’t too clingy (i’m a pear – or was- also).

      And, fancy dress rental shops are cropping up all over. If you’re in a big city, that would be worth a look, too.

      • Black Tie? :

        I’m the OP. Thanks so much for all these suggestions. I’ve heard of Rent the Runway, but was sort of hesitant about it. Maybe I’ll give it a shot! And I think I’ll also just have to order a lot online and deal with the returns (I’m terrible at taking care of those….)

    • I recently rented a desinger dress from Rent the Runway for a wedding. The retail price of the dress was way more than I could have afforded, but the rental was only $50, and I didn’t have to worry about cleaning it afterwards. Super easy, super pretty, lots of compliments and resulting confidence!

      • Second this for Rent The Runway! I’ve rented from them three times and had no problems with the dresses – I’ve loved them all. I haven’t bought a dress for an event in ages.

        Once I had an issue with my dress not being delivered to a hotel I was staying at, and the RTR customer service was great. They communicated the issue to me quickly and refunded me immediately. I’m a huge RTR fan.

      • yes! rent the runway. I went to an insane wedding last summer and rented a ballgown. i spent less than $100 and looked awesome (if i do say so myself.)

    • Anonymous :

      Why would you put aside her stated preference?

      Suck it up.

      You’ll be gorgeous.

      • uh, because obtaining a long gown can be a real expense to someone on a tight budget?

      • Because... :

        Because it’s rude for the host of an event to dictate dress code so specifically. She already said “black tie” – her guests are adults and can figure out what’s appropriate. What if she wanted all of her guests to wear orange? That seems silly. If OP was in the wedding party, fine – she agreed to a dress code, but she isn’t.
        (Sorry for the rant, but I’m burned out on weddings for 2011.)

        • A gown is black tie. I think OP is being rude for bothering the bride with this.

          • A gown is black tie. So is a dressy cocktail dress. If the bride wanted all of the women in full-length gowns, the invitation should have stated “white tie.”

          • Actually these days, white tie requires a gown, black tie doesn’t. See Emily Post (link to follow).

          • http://www.emilypost.com/everyday-manners/your-personal-image/69-attire-guide-beach-casual-to-white-tie-

          • Totally agree with you 2 cents. Never understood people that had to be difficult when it came to someone else’s wedding. It’s the bride’s day and I’m sure stressed enough–there is no good reason to bother her with this. Especially when it’s so easy and cheap to find an appropriate gown, just need to look around a bit.

    • Is it next Saturday as in 2 days from now? Honestly, since you mention you’re petite, this may be Mission: Impossible. At 5’3″, I’ve never had a formal gown that didn’t need to be hemmed. If it’s Saturday a week and 2 days from now, get shopping, stat, so you have time for the tailor.

      I’d suggest you check out the selection of “special occasion” dresses at BR, J Crew, Ann Taylor, and the like. Also try Filene’s, TJ Maxx, etc. And this may sound crazy, but I’ve gotten a nice formal dress from Dress Barn in the past, so if there’s one near you, check it out.

    • I have seen really nice stuff buried in the racks at Ross-type places, so maybe pick an off-hour and go digging! Also consignment stores sometimes have fancy dresses.

    • Illinois Anon :

      Do “rent the runway”! My friend just did it for a black tie event. You rent a designer gown for cheap, and they even send you two sizes of the dress to make sure it fits. Best idea ever IMO

      http://www.renttherunway.com/lp/signup/springd?campaign=PPCDR2_rent%20dress&CTA=EG2&Off=2644&KY=rent%20dress&jt=1&jp=&jadid=9870537901&js=1&jk=rent%20dress&jsid=25875&jkId=gc:a8a8ae4e7313b3248013168a420c50b7e:t1_e_:k_rent%20dress:pl_&gclid=CLzG1sahw6sCFQLBKgoddUIGtw

    • Also check out WHBM – they have some great long dresses in their sale. I really like this one:

      http://www.whitehouseblackmarket.com/store/browse/product.jsp?maxRec=150&pageId=1&productId=570021117&viewAll=true&prd=Kaleidoscope+Chiffon+Maxi+Dress&subCatId=cat210002&color=&fromSearch=true&inSeam=&posId=34&catId=cat4809277&cat=&onSale=true&colorFamily=&maxPg=1&size=

    • You could try dressing up a more casual dress with heels and jewelry. A friend of mine who basically never wears dresses did this at my wedding (though I didn’t care about hem length, she prefers to cover her legs) at looked fantastic.

      There are a couple of rayon knit maxi dresses at Nordstrom for under $100 (I think rayon would look dressier than cotton…heck, many cocktail dresses nowadays are rayon jersey). If they are too long, you might have success just getting the shoulders straps taken up (much cheaper alteration). Heels, jewelry, and a clutch would probably make it work.

      I’ll send one option in a separate post to avoid moderation.

      • Here are a couple that you could possibly make work:

        http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/karen-kane-sleeveless-maxi-dress/3171136?origin=category&resultback=5115

        http://shop.nordstrom.com/s/remain-vanessa-belted-maxi-dress/3219296?origin=category&resultback=2614

        Victoria Secret dresses (online) can sometimes work in a pinch for something like this too.

      • I added in my moderation response with links that Victoria Secret is another option. They have a lot of maxi dresses, and their poly/spandex looks as dressy as more expensive poly/spandex’s do in my experience (though don’t last as long of course).

        Their multi-way maxi dress would probably work, and being low calf length means you probably won’t need it hemmed.

  8. By the way, I have a comment stuck in moderation that says, hello again everyone. I wrote this guest post back in August, and it’s nice to have it here to briefly note that wearing clothes to work is great, but it’s really always all about the people.

  9. lovely post. without knowing what i will leave work *for* (and let’s hope it’s voluntary …) what i would miss most would be the clear sense of purpose afforded by goal-setting and problem-solving. I really enjoy that aspect of my work, including my work with colleagues.

    yes, of course you can and I do apply goal-setting and problem-solving to life outside of work. but it’s just not quite the same.

  10. Anon Canadian :

    Wow, #5 of things I don’t miss is what I’m dealing with right now. I have some of the worst coworkers right now, I feel like I’m in high school with a bunch of mean girls sometimes. I don’t want to be in their little clique but I think as professionals there’s a level of respect and general kindness that you should have that helps make the workplace a better place to be. Especially considering the amount of our lives we have to spend at work. I’m definitely missing the team aspect, my last office was much more congenial.

    • Makeup Junkie :

      Ditto this. The pettiness and unnecessary arguments on my trial prep team make a stressful situation nearly unbearable.

  11. Maddie Ross :

    I can imagine missing the routine of working once you are retired, but I’m not sure about the rest of the top 5 items. I’m a total creature of habit and it’s hard for me to be without a routine after even a couple days of vacation.

  12. I will not miss the feeling in my stomach that I have right now.

    Until this morning, I was the “top candidate” for two amazing but very different jobs. One has been in the works for about 2 months. The other resurfaced last week with an “urgent” request for an interview with the CEO over the weekend. She loved me according to the recruiter’s feedback, and interviews with the co-owners took place yesterday. A hedge fund guy and his wife, in their 30s. Highly educated. Rich as hell. She’s artistic. I thought he chose to focus on some strange topics during the interview, but he seemed pretty normal. She was just horrid. And now, of course, I’m out of the running. The recruiter couldn’t believe it.

    And then less than 10 minutes later, I see the other job I’ve interviewed for being posted twice on LinkedIn. There may be more to the story there, because their “policy” is that they need to compare 2 candidates side-by-side and I’m “the only one who has made it this far.” (So there were other candidates already – shouldn’t that count…) Feedback has been that they really, really want me but they just can’t quite do what they need to do until mid-October. It’s been 2 weeks since last contact. But today’s posting does not make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I will not miss this. I (generally) enjoy interviewing because it gives me a chance to get to know interesting people and talk about exciting new opportunities. But this sucks.

    • i’m sorry for your situation. Re-the first one, well, perhaps the horrid wife plays a bigger role in the company than you had suspected, so maybe it just wasn’t in the cards (a good thing). sounds like having to deal with her in whatever way shape or form would suck.

      re-the second one … mid-October isn’t so far away?

      if all else fails, the fact that you’ve gotten this far proves that you’re a very valuable and attractive candidate, so surely another company will see that if these two don’t come through.

    • I’m sorry to hear about your tough situation. I was in a similar situation a couple of months ago, was a candidate for 2 great internal promotions, was practically promised my pick, then things happened & I didn’t get either, but another position in another department became available that was more what I wanted than either of the other positions, and it all worked out. I hope something similar happens with you! Either you get the position you saw advertised, or another great opportunity comes out of left field & it’s perfect for you.

    • Thanks to both of you for your encouragement. I know that I’m lucky to even have these opportunities to pursue, but it’s such an emotionally draining process. And then to be slammed by one of the interviewers on such a personal level just sucked the wind out of me. Hopefully something will happen. In the meantime, my husband and I just agreed that if he lands one of the two positions he’s trying for (which is out of the country), then I’m quitting my job immediately, we’ll rent out our house and GO. And I’ve started looking around for a small business to buy. Just trying to keep the momentum going until something sticks. Again – I really appreciate it.

  13. I will not miss the awful and more-frequent-than-it-should-be coversation with my husband that basically goes like this: Hey hon, I’m really sorry but I have to cancel our vacation (again), [insert partner’s name] needs me to come in. Yes, I know I put in for the vacation six months ago and that your firm holds vacation time sacred. No, I don’t know when the project will be wrapped up enough for us to reschedule. Yes, I know this happens every.damn.time. [followed by days/weeks of guilt].

    Yep, I won’t miss that at all.

    • Recently Downgraded :

      I just lost my significant other to that very situation. I had just moved to a small firm to get a better quality of life (and half the paycheck) and was so optimistic and stupid that I believed their sales pitch about no weekends and rarely nights that I passed that promise on to him. After only a few weeks, I was working every weekend and until midnight during the week (just me; not the whole team). He gave up on me. Now that I have lost the love of my life, am losing my house, and feel like my career is floundering, I wish I had just taken the weekend off to go away as we planned and gotten fired. I hope that you and your husband have found a work around.

      • I saw your thread below. I’ve struggled with saying “no” myself and now I’m a partner at a law firm. There’s a distinction between being entitled (no one likes that) and being honest. If you say “Can I get you x by x:00 on Monday” most people will say ok. But if you say “when do you need x” you might be told the day before or morning of…if you are saying a time, it comes across that you really will get it to the person then. Part of being a jr associate is learning ot manage your managers. Blaming it on the economy, society, firm, etc. isn’t empowering. Yeah, those are factors you have to consider. But rarely are things as dire as you imagine.
        This is a hard thing to do when you take your job seriously and want to work hard. But its necessary for your mental health.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I can’t believe that this happens. I have always feared it but I guess I’ve always worked for decent places. I may have to finish something up on vacation or participate in a conference call but I have never had to flat out cancel a vacation. Honestly, unless I was the head of the case and absolutely essential to some true emergency, I wouldn’t do it.

      Do you honestly think they would fire you if you said no? Do they hold everyone to that standard? I would like to think I would say “I’m sorry, I will put work first almost every day of the week but this vacation has been planned for x months, means a lot to my family, is already paid for, and I just can’t cancel it. I will get so and so up to speed to fill in for me while I’m away, will check email daily and call in as need be but I just can’t come in.”

      Does the partner say “anon, I know you are supposed to be on vacation but now I need you to come in?” Or does he say “next week I need you to cover x hearing” and he forgets your on vacation? Could you just say “I’m on vacation that week but xyz can cover it?”

      I’m really sorry you have to deal with this. I hope you are looking for other work.

      • MissJackson :

        I’ll echo Blonde Lawyer’s comments.

        It took me a long time to realize that part of the reason that I did not have any off-limits work boundaries was because I did not establish any off-limits work boundaries.

        Don’t feel like you have to just say “no” when you’re asked to do something during a planned vacation. But don’t immdiately just say “yes” either! Make the partner specifically address whether what he needs you to do is (a) an emergency that absolutely must be accomplished while you are on vacation and (b) cannot be done by anyone else. If both (a) and (b) are true, then you’re probably out of luck. Otherwise, there is room to negotiate.

        Here’s the thing: the more I answered emails at 11pm, the more people expected me to answer emails at 11pm (and 6am, and within 20 minutes on the weekend, and within an hour while I was on vacation, and *during my father’s funeral*). Your job (and mine) will take every inch you give it.

        Look around. Do all of the associates at your firm always cancel their vacations? Or are some folks managing to set up boundaries? If everyone is in the same boat, get out, immediately; this is not normal, even in BigLaw. If other associates have well established boundaries that are only broken when necessary, look at what they are doing and follow suit. Listen to me closely: standing up for yourself does not make you a b*tch or not a team player or whatever else it is that you might be worried about.

        • MaggieLizer :

          This. I’m still very junior, but it seems like a lot of the stress and craziness of this job is self-imposed and unnecessary. Most things associates and junior partners do can be done by someone else. Build up some political capital with people at a similar seniority level so you can ask them to cover you when you go on vacation. Just make sure to use that political capital so they don’t get used to calling you in every holiday.

          • Recently Downgraded :

            The additional factor that makes me (and I think other more junior attorneys) leary to say no is the current state of the legal market. I am in the so-called “lost generation” and am well aware that every ad in the paper gets hundreds of responses and that reputable firms of all sizes get unsolicited resumes continuously. If we have a slow month or an impressive resume comes in and I just refused to work a weekend or cover a task, I’m out the door. I was all but laid off from BigLaw (required to float between multiple office several hours apart without consideration for the drive time or mileage) because there simply was not enough work to go around. Honestly, things were worse there. I had to work through and miss my own birthday dinner last year to do non-urgent research becuase the junior partner wanted it right then (he left without even telling me while I was still plugging away for him). I didn’t mind as much there because everyone knows that’s how BigLaw works and they pay to own you. I never even tried to take a vacation because I didn’t have enough work to accrue enough hours – you can’t get work if you’re not there. New/small firm is overall much more considerate though the trends with which associates bear the burden of lost vacations and long hours tend toward women (the female associates are also the newest to the firm). Occasionally, a caring partner will check in and tell me to take the weekend or a holiday off, but it doesn’t matter at this point. I have nowhere else to be. You can only cancel so many things with so many people before no one trusts you anymore. I should probably find a project or marketing event for my birthday that is approaching lest I be left to spend it home alone. It’s frustrating and I’m bitter and angry and despondent, but I guess it’s better than the alternative. I’m lucky that I have a job at all. Many of my peers would love to be able to use their law degrees and bar admissions that sit on the shelf while they serve drinks, food, or coffee.

          • Wow. Recently Downgraded, I am truly sorry.

            You need to take some time off. I went 2 years, and then 4 years without vacations. I became very bitter. I had pushed away most of my friends. While travelling alone can be scary, coming back refreshed and in tune with my own needs made those times worthwhile. The world did not crash while I toured New Orleans. Work was still there when I turned off the wi-fi. I came back more cheerful and a better team player.

            I worry that if you don’t find a way to relax, you’re going to break. Please take care of yourself.

          • MaggieLizer :

            RD, I’m part of the lost generation too (2010 grad) and I really let the anxiety get to me when I first started. I’ve done what I can to make myself less replaceable. I ask for (and have received) opportunities to develop professional skills, I’ve become involved in firm committees and events, public speaking engagements, local and national bar sections, etc. I now feel more like a real professional and not just an indentured servant, and I’ve also made a lot of really good friends (who understand when I cancel dinner plans at the last minute because of work).

            There have been several corporette meet-ups, maybe you could go to one? I’m sure any of the ladies here (including me) would be happy to buy you a drink.

        • >the more I answered emails at 11pm, the more people expected me to answer emails at 11pm

          Truer words were never spoken. As my dad used to say, today’s factory production record becomes tomorrow’s factory minimum standard.

        • anon from 1:39pm :

          I am always very clear that that I have vacation time scheduled but unfortunately, I’m working in a “firm first” culture, so all of the associates here deal with this. We try to cover for each other as much as possible, but there are a variety of structural/staffing reasons that make it difficult – conflict screens between different departments (which limits options for covering), answering to multiple partners within a department (which creates juggling issues) and heavy involvement of associates on big projects (which is something that I love, except for the week or two a year when being indispensable cancels my vacation). The partners are not unsympathetic, but there is a general philosophy of “this is what we pay you for,” and while this isn’t an NYC big law firm, it is a large firm that pays well. I basically knew what I was getting into when I came here, but all the same, the lack of control over my vacation time is frustrating and it is the number one thing that I will not miss.

          Thankfully my husband is understanding. He gets frustrated too, but always with my firm, not with me. Not that it would be appropriate for him to be frustrated with me, I’m just glad that’s not an issue. @recently downgraded – I’m very sorry that your situation was different.

          • No one will say “take a vacation” and people will moan and groan when you do.
            You have a choice as to what to do. You’re choosing not to take vacations. You are making excuses why you’re not making a choice. But, make no mistake, you are making a choice (said as someone who struggles with saying “no, I am not available for x personal reason”, but realizing when I do, the world does not explode).

          • anon from 1:39pm :

            Anon at 4:38pm – you are right, I am making a choice, but that choice goes beyond just whether or not to take a vacation – it’s whether or not to risk my job by taking a vacation. I like my job and frankly, I like my paycheck, so if a partner says to me “listen I need you here, please reschedule your vacation,” I’m going to choose the job and the paycheck. The vacation/availability issue comes up in people’s performance reviews (in came up in mine after my honeymoon); I’m not willing to risk it in this economny.

          • Believe me, I understand. I’ve made lots of sacrifices for my job. No one can tell you what to do. But like others have said, the more you make yourself available, the more you are expected to be available. Can you work late the week before? Be on calls while on your vacation? These aren’t perfect solutions, but one vacation I went to Hawaii and did calls at about 7am Hawaii time most days and was ready for a “real” day after the calls ended by 8 or 9. It wasn’t that bad.

        • After I worked every weekend in July, while the contractor and my boss said they were unavailable everytime a weekend emergency came up, I said I was unavailable a couple of times in August. My boss flipped his lid and complained about his vacation time and weekends, but I held firm.

          I’m still trying to get out as fast as I can, but I’d finally had enough. I’ve also stopped cancelling social events. I’m going to the baby shower this weekend, even though it’s month-end and I’m supposed to be working. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care anymore.

        • This is so a YMMV kind of issue. I think that there is probably some truth to the idea of some stress being self-inflicted. But then you work for just one of those a–hole partners and it taints your view for a long time. One of the first partners I worked for put 3 jr associates on a 24 hour rotation (as in, at least one of us were to be on call every hour of the day) for a deal that lasted just under a year. I had a toddler and a newborn at the time, and I basically saw them once every 3rd day. I missed one of my daughter’s birthday, cancelled 2 vacations and every long-weekend. I billed over 2500 hours for that one deal. At one point, I was running a 105 degree fever and was nearly passing out, and asked the partner if I could go home. She said that it wasn’t convenient. To top it off, for my annual review, she gave me a negative review, saying something to the effect that I showed a lack of dedication to the needs of the client. That deal (and partner) caused 3 associates to quit the firm. I left shortly thereafter.

          MaggieLizer is right that as jr’s, we are fungible. But that works 2 ways – with the right partner, it means that you can cultivate a group of team player associates who can help and cover for each other. With the wrong partner, it can also mean that it doesn’t matter if you abuse them to death, because there’s another one waiting at the doorstep.

          • Anon for this one :

            One if my coworkers was fired for taking a vacation that she’d planned and discussed months prior. There was no problem with her work product nor were we pushing up against deadlines and trial was still months away. The firm was making an example of her. That was about a year ago and she hadn’t found steady work yet, so she has been doing doc review and ruing that mexican cruise ever since.
            So yah, I get it.

          • AnonInfinity :

            Anon for this one — If there was no looming deadline, why in the world did they fire her? Just for taking a vacation at all? That is just awful.

          • Anon for this one…
            that may or may not be the full story. A smart associate who can write well and has an intangible quality that makes the person valuable is unlikely to be fired. When people are not “special”, that’s when they are made into examples. Key is to show that you are special. Its not about how much you work. Its about how wise you work.

          • Anon for this one :

            Not everyone can be special though, so I guess the rest of us ordinary associates are stuck behind the desk or risk getting fired.
            It was really just a power play on the part of the partner.

          • Believe it or not, it might end up being for the best if you’re cut as a jr associate if you don’t have the intangibles. You still are young and adaptable. I see partners who were never special being fired. What career options do they at a certain point? If you’re average at the law, perhaps you can be exceptional at something else. There is no shame in that.

          • Anon for this one – are you talking about me? I suspect that you aren’t but that is exactly what happened to me. I was fired *while on vacation*.

            Thankfully, my story has a happy ending – I liked the doc review job more than the old firm job, and made more money too (it was in a larger market). It also gave me the kick in the pants to find my current job (and I had plenty of free time to interview and apply while I was doing doc review). Now I have a job that’s basically my dream job, and I am so grateful that they fired me and I’m not stuck at that firm any more.

          • Mondette – what a great story! Thanks for sharing.

          • It makes me so sad to read about all these women who think they have “no choice” but to live miserable lives and devote everything to a job that gives them so little back. This is your one life! Maybe you have to take crap for a while, but make a plan for something better. You do have a choice. You can create boundaries. You can find something better and healthier.

      • I agree – there have been plenty of times where I have to work a bit from vacation and be available via email or phone. Perhaps that would be a solution.

        • Also, I find it’s easier to take nearly spontaneous vacations than plan one in advance. Instead of booking six months out and building up excitement, the next time you find yourself with a slow week at work, why not take off to someplace sunny? Or would that not work with your husband’s job?

  14. I moved from biglaw to government, and one thing I miss is the physical environment: clean, updated office, modern technology, fresh paint, matching chairs in conference rooms, etc. I have a big, bright office now, but there are cracks in the walls, stains on the ceiling, tears in the carpet, and a motley assortment of mismatched, old furniture. It makes sense to me not to spend taxpayer money on decorating, but some days I just miss the cushy surroundings at my old gig.

    • anon prof :

      I’m with you. I also miss the professionalism of colleagues in the private sector–public relations dept that ran great events and always looked pulled together, a secretary with skills who would actually do things, a janitor that really cleaned, and so on. I don’t know if it was fear of losing a good job or love of working for the highly-regarded employer, but it sure was different in the private sector than in academia.

      • another prof :

        Janitors that clean! That would be awesome. At my university they don’t enter offices, don’t remove trash, and do not clean anything above their shoulder height (some union restriction). The place is just dirty!

    • I’m with you AEK. I get so jealous when I see pretty, private sector offices. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything, but it sure would be nice to have a more attractive place to do it.

    • I transitioned from government to nonprofit sector. I miss having a secretary SO SO much. Every time I spend hours arranging conference chairs, making coffee, or looking for packages in the mailroom, knowing that means I’ll have to work that many hours later at night to get my actual lawyer work done, I want to cry. I would also kill for a window, if not actually in my office, even anywhere remotely near my office. Love the nonprofit, but I really miss the perks of government work.

    • I feel you there. My office is pretty nice, but there are certain things that would never happen at a private company firm. For instance, we’re not supposed to keep any documents on our computer hard drives and are supposed to put everything on a shared drive for easy access. The problem? The shared drive is 99% full and will “save” documents into nowhere. Meanwhile people think you are crazy when you say “Oh I saved it to the shared drive, but it can’t be found anywhere.” Everywhere else I’ve worked had multiple backup drives so if one version disappeared, the others could easily be retrieved. /end rant.

    • Seriously! I went from govt. to private, and I never thought things like that would mean as much as they do. I’m surrounded all day by lovely furnishings and amazing art. I value that so much more than I ever thought I would.

    • I work in government in a rented private building. Part of the rent includes janitorial staff, who do a wonderful job. Our wing of the building was recently renovated and so we have nice carpet, new drywall painted in soothing accent colors, lol. Also, I hunted around the storage unit and found nice, matching furniture for my office. So it is not all bad in government!

  15. Espero- I couldn’t agree anymore. Was excited when I saw this topic cause I could use some motivation in a career that I am finally happy to say I’ve gotten about as close to contentedness as I think I’ll ever get and have totally ruled out the possibility of actually ever liking my job- whatever that means. But I too can’t relate in the least, I would gladly do without those five things forever. Oh well a job is just a job and I am fortunate I have one. And the people in my office are so wonderfully competent.

  16. When I read the first 5, I thought, “Is she crazy?” None of those things is miss-able except for routine. Then I read the second 5.

    Although I certainly believe that the only hope of women long-term is to press ahead in the corporate world, I’m not romantic about it. At all.

    • what do you mean? That the second 5 were even worse? That they are the things that keep women down? Spell it out for me.

  17. If/when I leave the professional world, I think I’ll miss the respect the most of all. Most people expect a visibly Muslim woman to not work and I have to say, I really enjoy the confused looks on peoples’ faces (Muslim and not) when they realize that I’m out there playing with the boys.

    • Ru, I just want to say I value your perspective in these comments so much.

      • Thanks =)

      • Echoing what MsZ said. I’m always interested by your perspective in these topics.

        While it’s nowhere near similar, I always chuckle when I’m dealing with someone outside of work and when he/she asks what I do and I respond “oh, I’m an attorney” or somesuch, that person is visibly surprised and I can tell his/her perception of me is different. My favorite would have to be the car salesman (ugh) that dealt with my husband and me. Until he learned what my job was, he had not even looked me in the eye and had directed all conversation at my husband. I thoroughly enjoyed *not* buying a car from him that day.

        • I agree. My husband is the stay at home parent these days, and I’m an accountant in management in a large oil & gas services company. The circles we move in outside work are usually husband has white collar job & wife is either at home with the kids, or works part time or in a pink collar job. The looks people get when they find out about our situation can be priceless. I enjoy it when a husband realizes I make more than he does, or I’m farther in my career than he is (and sometimes he’s older than me). And dh is very proud & supportive of me, which is good because otherwise our arrangement would not be as good for our family as it is.

          • As someone whose husband (who is a professional himself) is planning to stay-at-home whenever I’m far enough along in my career that it is financially feasible (without a major downgrade in our standard of living), this makes me very happy that it works well for you. And gives me hope that with a similarly supportive and proud DH, things will work out well.

    • Ha! This is awesome.

    • Alanna of Trebond :

      This is a lovely sentiment! It is one thing that I miss about being an engineer, because unfortunately, it was always surprising to everyone that (still) that it was a woman who was doing that work.

  18. Anonymous :

    I don’t know why this post bothered me so much, but it did. Something about wanting to stomp around in a testosterone fueled power display in $700 heels just makes me feel so … sad. Throw in the resentment of other women and the “fear” of not making “it” … it all just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

    • Anonymous :

      How on earth do you take this post to say anything about resenting other women?

      • Funny – the same thing made me really like this post. I love the image of a woman occupying male-dominated territory and not only succeeding but enjoying it the entire time. I’ve felt that way at times, and it’s heady and fun as hell. I’ve also been in the other position, where the doors to that territory were clearly closed in my face, and it makes me appreciate the oh-so-rare testosterone-fueled moments all the more. Lisa – you’re a rockstar – thank you so much for your posts and your perspective and your wisdom.

    • Anon times 1000 :

      Totally agree. I did not agree with anything on the top 5 list, but only that testosterone comment actually bothered me. I’ve known too many women that take some kind of weird pride in being “like the boys.” I think women should just be who they are and do their own thing, and whatever that ends up looking like, stop comparing it to how men behave.

      • The testosterone comment bugged me, too. I don’t deny that women can be as competitive as men, but I’ve worked with some who out-did themselves in screaming and talking over me as part of their bully-boy schtick.

        We really ought to be beyond the point where’s people’s confidence or nerve is viewed as evidence of a surplus of a single chemical that is found in both sexes.

        If a guy was unusually kind or sensitive, and someone said, “You have more estrogen than most women,” I would think that was equally stupid.

  19. I like and would miss:

    1 Getting out of my comfort zone.
    Sometimes it is good to have to do something you think you can’t and then learn you can.

    2 The social side. Dinner and drinks I don’t have to cook or pay for, a good vibe because everyone needs to blow off steam. I also like that all the guys are in suits rather than dressed like clowns as they are in some clubs or like bums as they are at some concerts. There is still a certain standard of behaviour.

    3 Continued education. Going to courses in nice mansions or even just at the office. Learning something useful. It is also usually not as difficult as university.

    4 Nice clean shiny buildings, being taken care of.

    5 Colleagues that are crazy and make good stories. My team is all young males and thus a blend of a rooster pen and a monkey hill. As annoying as they may be at times, they give me better laughs than most comedy shows.

    I won’t miss getting up early after a bad night’s sleep, staying in late when you are tired and just generally lacking time. My dream life would be for everyone to just work three days a week. Just enough to get a few things done, but not enough to get tired.

  20. Good post, Lisa.

    What I would miss:
    1) Team-work and the great feeling that I get when the team accomplishing something important.
    2) Feeling valued for my individual contribution
    3) Variety of people, places, tasks and goals

    I would not miss interviewing, performance reviews (getting or giving) and the 8-5/5 days a week in the office. However, I don’t think I’ll ever “retire” in the full sense of the word. I’ll become self-employed and do consulting projects etc., but I’ll do it on my own schedule: That might mean working til midnight after having gotten out in the sunshine during the day for biking or hiking.

  21. anon prof :

    Not only would I miss having colleagues, I think I would miss feeling “needed”–I’d go nuts at home without some project or big volunteer activity. I know I’m not really needed at work and lots of other people can do what I do–and many do it better–but it’s nice to have that feeling of accomplishment when you finish a project at work and head out the door.

  22. I left biglaw for life as an international civil servant, and I echo a lot of the comments above.
    I sometimes miss:
    1) Salary — took > 50% paycut
    2) Plush digs with my own private office
    3) Support staff ( I LOVED my secretary and paralegals)
    4) Many of my colleagues
    5) Flexibility of schedule (when I wasn’t slammed)

    I happily left behind:
    1) The billable hour… I still marvel at how free-ing it is to not be beholden to this
    2) Working late nights and many many many weekends
    3) My crackberry (I miss it for other reasons, but don’t miss the leash aspect)
    4) Narcissistic, disorganized, unreasonable partners (I only dealt with a few, but it was more than enough)
    5) The feast or famine nature of workflow
    6) 10 lbs (and counting) of work/stress weight
    7) Lying in bed every morning wishing I didn’t have to go to work
    8) Knowing it was up or out, and probably out, for myself and most of my colleagues
    Okay… I should stop now :-)

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