Secrets to Succeeding at Your Summer Job

By Hillary Mantis

The summer has just started. You’re just getting used to the office routine. But it’s never too early to think about the future.

Your summer job is a potential source of a full-time offer, not to mention future contacts, references, and mentors. Whether you are in a large firm, or working for a solo practitioner, or government agency, there are steps you can take now to make sure your summer’s a success.

BE VISIBLE: You are trying to get your work done, so you have been buried in your office all week. Mistake? Could be. While you obviously do want to get your work done in a responsible manner, you don’t want to get to the end of the summer, when the Partners are reviewing who bring back, and have someone say, “Who’s he?” Many law students and lawyers are introverts, and would rather stay in their offices. It makes sense to take a walk around the office, once in a while, and make sure people know who you are.

BE SOCIABLE: Along the same lines, people want to hire and recommend people they would actually like to work with themselves.  Once they know you can do the work, they want to know if you will be pleasant to work with. So, if you are invited to a lunch, a seminar, a reception, or a meeting---by all means, go.

BE TIMELY: I remember counseling a student, who was a morning person. She would get to her summer job at 7:30 every morning, just because she liked to get in early, and not feel rushed. Guess who else got in that early every morning? The senior partner.  It was noticed, and she also had an extra opportunity to talk to him, and the other partners who were in early.  Everyone in an office usually has a sense of who are the people who come in early and stay late—why not be one of them?

BE PROACTIVE: If you have a chance to initiate a project, or have an idea, chime in.  This might be intimidating at first, but give it a try. People always appreciate when you show initiative, and go above and beyond the work at hand.

BE SURE: The summer is not just about impressing others; it’s about you too. This internship or job is ultimately about helping you decide what setting, or practice area will make you happy. If it’s right for you, great. You will have tried your best to make a good impression. If it’s not, that’s fine too. You can learn what you can from the position, perhaps find a good mentor, get some references for the future, and move on.

Hillary Mantis is a consultant who works with pre-law students, law students, and lawyers. You can write to Hillary at