Congratulations! You heard about the importance of gaining good legal experience each summer during law school, and you worked very hard to secure a great summer internship. To get the most “bang for your buck” this summer, don’t forget the importance of socializing!
You will likely be working closely with a small group of people, and it is extremely important to remember a few do’s and don’ts of socializing to bolster and preserve your reputation:
- DO attend as many work-related social functions as you can. Join the office softball team, go to dinner with your co-workers, and attend happy hour events. This is a great way to make personal connections, build relationships, and get the inside scoop on professional issues. You will also demonstrate your willingness to be “part of the team” at your workplace.
- DO behave appropriately. While it is ok to have a drink or two in the appropriate setting, it is NEVER ok to drink to excess or behave unprofessionally. One bad incident can ruin your reputation in the professional/legal community, and you will likely lose your potential for a full-time position with the organization.
- DO maintain professional boundaries. Remember your boss is always your boss, regardless of the situation. Keep your contact professional at all times. Do not create awkward or unprofessional relationships. If you begin to develop a relationship with a co-worker and don’t want others to know, it is probably best not to continue the relationship.
- DO go to lunch with your supervisor, organization leaders and co-workers every chance you get. Similar to other social situations, this is a great opportunity to connect and make a good impression.
- DON’T be a gossip. The office is not a place to air your dirty laundry, and you don’t need to contribute to anyone else doing so.
- DO be inquisitive. Steer social conversations away from work-related topics. Ask co-workers about their family, hobbies, interests, travels, etc. Be an active listener, and don’t be the annoying intern who tries to tell everyone how great you are. You are there to learn, and you can let your work speak for itself. Most people feel special when someone really listens to them, so do yourself a favor and listen to others.
- DO branch out and introduce yourself. Use social settings to network, bring business cards, and pass them out like candy.
- DO keep your expectations reasonable. You may not be invited to partners-only events and that’s ok. Just because you have gone to lunch with the boss doesn’t mean you will get the important assignment you want. Sometimes lunch is just lunch.
- DON’T be the first to arrive or the last to leave. You may seem too eager by arriving to social situations before everyone else, and you don’t want to be the intern who stays to close down the bar. Stay long enough to socialize, but try to leave while the event is still going strong.
- DO be yourself. It is perfectly ok to have fun, joke around, and enjoy your summer. Let your personality shine through, just be sure you constantly maintain your professionalism.