The New Leaf

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsEvery so often in life, things just don’t work out. Call it karma or fate, or as my Aunty refers to it “sometimes life is just s**t, and it applied to so many things!” but unfortunately you’re stuck with it, and it’s how you manage it that really matters (character building I believe it’s more positively known as).

If you’ve been following my column (thanks!) then you’ll note that quite a few of my last ‘life not going my way’ moments have knocked me for 6. While I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’m feeling much better about those in the individual sense (I’m not, the Dream Job called and gave me the feedback I requested yesterday and the wound reopened tenfold), I’m here to tell you what I did to take a little bit of control again.

Most post law students would find that there is a big hole left which use to be filled with endless amounts of study. Once you finish you initially fill that hole with activities such as seeing friends, sleeping, working or just rolling around on the floor of your house going “I can do this because I don’t have to study anymore!” However after a while, you really think “gosh, what do I do with my time now?” I believe the technical term is you realise you’re a little bit ‘bored’. Oh, and if this doesn’t sound like you, give it time…

Well, I, being the person not willing to roll any longer, applied for my Masters. SURPRISE!

It’s a Masters of Teaching. DOUBLE SURPRISE!

I have been volunteering at a local primary school for some time, and, as my friend put it to me when I told her about the Masters, “those kids got to you”. I’ve always had a bit of an interest in teaching, I did year 10 work experience in teaching (and journalism… next academic venture to resurface?) but didn’t pursue it after being sucked whole-heartedly into Law in years 11 and 12 Legal Studies.

Now it’s back, and I’m learning about something that is so not law it’s almost funny! While there’s plenty of academic research to be had, I’m being asked (keep in mind it’s my first assignment, in my first class in my first semester) to make a ‘multimodal artefact’ about what kind of teacher I want to be. It can be “a powerpoint slide, a rap, a collage, a video, a short essay, a role play etc”. Hell yeah! While it is hard work to be in a degree again, and the concept of “oh right, I can’t put this off” is starting to finally hit me, I couldn’t be happier that I’ve taken a complete left turn into something I’ve always been interested in but never taken a chance on.

It helps knowing that if it all feels too much I can always stop, but it feels so, so, so right to have gone in this direction, and now the legal job hunt punching me in the face the last month or so, doesn’t feel quite as bad. I urge you to do the same, but with anything that you’ve thought “hmm, I’d like to do this” but never gotten around to. I can’t actual explain the relief of taking the chance on this and having it work so well (even if it is only the first few weeks), and having it inadvertently balance much of my other turmoil with regard to post law school life and the job hunt.

Use your new free time to do something totally awesome and different! New language, juggling, landscape architecture. Rolling on the floor isn’t going to be interesting forever, especially not for smart people like yourselves!

P.S I immediately bought a stamp that says “well done” with a happy bee on it. 😀 It’s necessary – I’m a teacher! (well sort of)

When the rug is pulled out from under you… and thrown over your eyes… and someone sets you on fire while you’re in the dark.

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsLet me paint a small picture for you:

  1. It’s your birthday;
  2. You have to work on your birthday for the first time in your life, so you’ feeling a little underwhelmed by the whole thing;
  3. You had a superb interview with your Dream Job exactly one month ago and are waiting to hear back;
  4. No, you’re not being cocky, it went really well and one of the interviewers even said “what a fantastic answer, you’re pretty much already in”;
  5. You get an email from your Dream Job;
  6. You did not get the Dream Job;
    … did I mention it was my birthday?

Now I know what your first question is, because it will be the same as my lovely best friends’ question was when I told them, “did they give reasons why?” No, but I could email HR if I wanted to find out, 4 minutes later I had. Haven’t heard back yet.

I wrote an earlier article about how I had the wrong impression about a job interview which I thought went badly, but turns out I got. This would be the complete opposite, except worse, because the Dream Job that you’ve been pining for, for the last 5 years just punched you in the face with its generic email content.

The next question should of course be, how long did I stare at my screen re-reading the email? At least 10 minutes, while I yelled to my mum and her friend to “hold on” without giving any further information as to why. I just couldn’t fathom it, it must be a typo, it just couldn’t be a ‘no’. Needless to say the birthday party hat I had insisted on wearing to make work more fun was taken off.

So what now? (aka when your faith is truly shaken)

My family has one of those “if it’s meant to be it’s meant to be” type mentalities. In fact, when I’ve been getting knocked back for some other jobs recently we’ve all been thinking (and occasionally saying) that clearly I’m not meant to have this job because I’m going to hear back from my Dream Job who will give me a resounding yes and welcome me with open arms. It’s really hard to see the positive side of this knock back. What in the hell could ‘fate’ have in store for me in terms of job prospects (supposedly saving up for a good one) if my Dream Job is a big fat no?

So what do you do, when your Dream Job knocks you for six… I’ll let you know when I know. Apologies for the loose type of ending here, but I seriously don’t know, and really that lack of understanding and almost speechlessness (though not in writing) shows just how lost a\ writer who has a fun “whoopsie daisy” kind of column can be at the moment. Maybe soon I’ll have a top 10 list of “coming to terms with not getting your Dream Job”. Everyone loves a top 10!

 

 

A Few Interview Secrets

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsAs we move further along the path to our Dream Job, or even just, A Solicitor Job, all of us have experienced different things in interviews which we now know can make or break the impression you make on your potential employers. I have a couple today, and if you have any, I encourage you to share them to assist us all, come on, we’re all friends here.

“Do you have any questions for us?”

Yes, YES, dear god yes! When I was younger, if I believed they had already covered all my questions, logical ones, such as what will the work be like, what is my role, what are my hours, what is my pay, then no, I don’t have anything more to ask, it’s already been answered through the interview. WRONG.

Turns out (and yes, all you smarties are probably going, ‘well yeah, dar”, well not “dar”, because I didn’t know once upon a time which means someone else doesn’t) that you should, nay MUST, ask a question, even if you genuinely are content with the information you’ve received. Ask one about the company, better ask three, about the work environment, about the establishment of the position and whether there is room for promotion down the track. You. Must. Ask.

It is also important, that in preparation for this, because now you all know, that you think of a few potential questions beforehand. I’m not going to be the one to tell you to prepare endlessly for an interview. I know some who do and some who don’t, but we all spend a few minutes waiting to fall asleep at night, or cutting it a little close, waiting for them to come and walk us into the interview room, thinking about what you might answer to questions, what they might ask you. Prepare your questions BEFOREHAND, then you look super smart and interested (yay!).

How you answer your questions

I was recently told at the end of an interview, in a kind way, that I should have answered all the questions using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). I’d never heard of it, and while they didn’t mind “as much” because they were only looking for “a temporary person” if I ever went for another job in this sector then I should answer using the STAR method or I would “definitely not get the job”.

While I am pleased to have been told now, as she said “how would you know if no one has ever told you that it’s a specific requirement”, it’s very disconcerting to hear at the end of an interview you think went okay, but I thank her for telling me anyway.

I pass this previously completely unknown information onto you, the people, so that you may better utilise your interview skills for problem questions then I did.

Question: Tell me about a time where you….

Situation: Set the back story -what was happening at the time.

Task: What was the issue that came up?

Action: What did you to do solve said issue?

Result: Did it work?

Take a few moments before answering their questions (it feels like a horrendously awkward silence, but it’s really not) to organise your answer so it comes out clean and crisp.

If this method all seems a bit much and to me it did a little, just give it a bit more thought, an extra two seconds (one is too short, and three is too many) before you answer your question.

Do you have any tips or secrets to interviews you think new lawyers would like to know? Share the benefit of your wisdom with us by leaving a comment.

So, it turns out I was wrong… bound to happen I suppose.

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsA few weeks ago I wrote a piece, including some very sound advice I like to think, as to what happens when you go to an interview, and it goes terribly. This was loosely (lies, very tightly) based on a job interview I had recently. It was for a nice job, which would tide me over until I found more permanent work, and they were on the same level as me in that regard, happy to have me for a short period, in non-solicitor work, until I found something better suited. Mutual use and understanding of the role. Well, despite the fact that I thought I tanked the interview more than I could have ever imagined, I got the job! WHAT?? I almost fell off my chair when the employer called me and said “we want to offer you the position”. I couldn’t wipe the look of bewilderment off my face, lucky it wasn’t a video call! I had honestly cried my little eyes out for a brief 30 minutes (ish) afterwards at how poorly the interview had gone, apparently, it hadn’t gone that poorly at all!

The lesson here is, you never really know what other people are thinking until they tell you. So keep an open mind towards yourself and the future and never put all your eggs into a basket before knowing for sure.

How much PAE?!

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggs

There are two main things that I recall being told as I finished my last semester at law school, and they run almost simultaneously:

  1. “It’s tough to get a legal job straight out of law school, good luck.”- said by the occasional legal academic as a throwaway comment.

    Accurate Translation: You think you’re going to get a job straight out of law school. LOL, unlikely my friend. That is almost certainly not going to happen.

Unlike the HSC, where people would have you believe that without a good mark you are going to end up homeless somehow, but everyone got into Uni anyway and you know no classmates living on the streets, this one is actually true. It’s is TOUGH to get a legal job straight out of law school. It does happen to some, but it’s very much a non-event.

  1. “How am I supposed to get experience without experience?”- AKA what feels like the most common cliché ever in the whole world.

Accurate Translation: WHY when I search for ‘junior solicitor’ or ‘graduate solicitor’ every job opportunity says 2-3 PAE (post admission experience). 2-3 minutes? I’ve got that. 2-3 days? Yeah… probably. Nope, that would be years… Great! But seriously life, HOW am I supposed to get 2-3 years PAE when no one will hire me without 2-3 PAE? *sobs in anger*

Volunteer work is a good idea, and one of the only ideas you have, however *quoting Homer Simpson* “do you know so called ‘volunteers’ don’t even get paid?!” So you need to balance the ability to volunteer, which I strongly recommend as it’s super fun, gets you experience and is good on the resume, with maintaining the ability to afford to live. So keep that in mind.

Got any friendly academics at your old Uni that you got along with? Ask them for any tips too.

Do extra short courses to become more learned in certain legal fields. Do things that make you more desirable to employ. Don’t waste away this odd time of limbo between finishing Uni and finding full time solicitor work, utilise! You already know how to juggle study and the type of job you have now, you’ve been doing it for years. So make the most of the time. Below are some links for CPD and other courses to check out.

NSW: http://eshop.lawsociety.com.au/index.php/events/new-lawyers.html

ACT: https://www.actlawsociety.asn.au/events/category/cpd-courses

QLD: https://services.qls.com.au/MBR/Events%20Calendar/Member/EventsCalendar/Events_Calendar.aspx

SA: https://www.lawsocietysa.asn.au/ (unfortunately you can’t get to SA CPD without login.)

WA: https://www.lawsocietywa.asn.au/continuing-professional-development-cpd/

TAS: http://lst.org.au/professional-development/

NT: http://www.lawsocietynt.asn.au/for-the-profession/continuing-professional-development-cpd.html

 

When the Interview goes l-awful! (see what I did there?!)

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggsJob interviews, as most people are aware, are some of the hardest and most nerve-wracking things we ever have the pleasure of doing to obtain sweet, sweet financial security. During post law school life, your main objectives are as follows:

  1. Maintain enough money to eat all three meals in a day, only one of which is 2 minute noodles;
  2. Apply for as many jobs as possible. NOTE: variants include whether you wish to only apply for the jobs you would truly kick ass at, or all potential available options of ‘doesn’t require 2-3 PAE’;
  3. GET THAT INTERVIEW!

It all seems a little much (particularly that first one), but after you get the call saying “yes Georgia, we think you’re CV looks like you’re at least somewhat useful” and you agree to a time that “suits you both” (the time actually super doesn’t suit you, but you know what does, working), your heart races. Then you have to think “what do a wear? Hair? Suit? Make-up? Shoes?”

The day of the interview comes and you look a million bucks (hopefully you’ll be earning that much soon). You walk in the door, worrying that you’ll trip in your heels or your tie isn’t straight and put on your best smile.

ANNNNNNNNDDDDD then it goes downhill. Oh yes, today’s entry is one of those times. Another time to learn that not every interview leads to a job, not every interview even leads to you feeling like a competent human being. Some interviews leave you feeling bewildered, uneasy and well to be honest, pretty upset.

You can’t help but get your hopes up when you go for a job interview out of law school. Even if it isn’t your Dream Job, it’s something that will give you experience and money and somewhere to go each day. This could finally be the ‘yes’ after what feels like the long trail of ‘no’s’. How wrong you were. You walk out feeling deflated, annoyed that you moved your day around for the time that “suited you both”, wanting so badly to take your heels off and throw them at the next successful looking person you see. Assault charges won’t help this day, so what do you do?

Do you:

Have a cry? Yes
Feel like the world is coming to an end and no one will ever hire you as a lawyer ever ever ever? Yes
Realise that’s probably not true and get a Boost Juice? Yes
Call a friend and complain about the stupidity of the interview questions? Yes
Impulse shop? Well…. I say yes, but consult your bank account first.
Keep applying for more jobs? Yes
Put this memory away as a helpful reminder for the next interview? Yes
Push a small child off the swing because he’s hogging it? No
Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and put your chin up? Absolutely yes.

IT’S OKAY! That deflated feeling, the feeling that you’ll never get out of that café job that is tiding you over, that you worked all that time getting a law degree to be knocked back from a job that maybe you weren’t that keen on anyway.

An interview of mine not long ago may or may not have been an inspiration for this column, and let me tell you all of the above ‘yes’ answers happened (my newly purchased little plush bear says ‘hi’). Just remember from this tale of woe that rejection via an initial email hurts, but a crummy interview punches right in the law ego (also the gut).  It’s totally fine to feel really crappy for a while, feel a bit hopeless, like maybe a freezer mechanic might be a better career for you (nothing wrong with that job either, I’d pay top money to keep my ice cream cool, bless them), BUT you must carry on. Motherly wisdom is always helpful in life and here is my favourite one, thanks mum:

“It’s okay to have a big fat cry about it, but then you have to stop crying, and tell me what you’re going to do to fix it.”

So go, newly hatched lawyers, and fix it!

I’m Feeling 22!

By Georgia Briggs

georgiaBriggs

Hello lovely people out there who have decided to give my column another read, thank you for coming back. It is my birthday this week, so I’m disappointed that I am yet to receive a gift from you, particularly as I give you the gift of my inner thoughts on a continuing basis (it’s the thought that counts right? Ha ha!)

Anyway, as I become another year older, though not that old really, it gives me a special moment to reflect on the year that was and what I am going to do differently, or exactly the same, in the year to come.

When I look back, a crazy amount of things happened in one year actually:

  • I graduated university and was admitted as a lawyer;
  • I had my 21st birthday party, which was the most kick-ass thing that has ever happened;
  • I went overseas for the first time since I started university in 2012;
  • My Grandma died;
  • I changed jobs from one I had for almost 2 years (a long time in what I refer to as ‘teenage years’ despite not being one anymore);
  • Lost some friends, gained some friends, all of that jazz;
  • Did a month’s work experience at my Dream Job.

But the real question, the one that might in some way (or not) influence some of your own thoughts and actions, is what I want to do differently, or exactly the same, this year.

Differently

  • I have always had an issue with lawyers and law students who conduct themselves as though they’re better and smarter than everyone else. It drives me absolutely crazy. However I’ve noticed this year, that there are times where I have formed an opinion on something, based on a negative view of someone, or a choice they have made. It’s something I think we all do, but I wish I hadn’t let it colour the situation, and influence the relationships I had with people. I think it is an issue, that as young lawyers we can’t help. Generalising (and almost proving my point via hypocrisy) most young lawyers are very hard working, career driven and may have their life planned out clearly. When someone makes a decision that doesn’t fit with your life plan, you think “well that’s a bad decision”. Stop. It’s their decision, and while you cannot help but think it, take the old school approach of “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” and leave them be. If it doesn’t affect you, IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Despite the fact that you might think your opinion worthy of noting PEOPLE DO NOT WANT TO HEAR IT. I know, hurtful, but they don’t, no matter how much you think you’re right. I vow that I will take an “each to their own approach” in the year of 22, and I suggest you do the same. It makes life a whole lot easier too because you’re not worrying about other people’s crap, worry about yours young lawyer!
  • I will try to limit the silly highs and lows of professional (or in the current case, lack of professional) life. A lot of law students and young lawyers can be excited and proud that they work in the area of law. Law is your thing and people go “wow” because they’re impressed and you must be smart and rich and successful and powerful and amazing. Yeeeaahhhh… no. Definitely not always at least. Try not to let this all go to your head, because it makes the knock backs harder and the rejections that happen fairly often in post law school life harder to get back up from. You do have strengths, remember them, thrive off them, develop them, but you do have some god damn weaknesses too. You’re not all-knowing, and (because reality ruins all things) it is not that likely that straight after graduation the Dream Job will call you and say “you’re JUST SO BRILLIANT! We need you and have a huge pay cheque too”. On the flip side, you’re not hopeless, or useless, or forever destined to walk the earth without legal work, so don’t beat yourself up too much. I vow that I will believe in myself and what I have to offer without getting too big for my britches in the year of 22. Don’t expect, but don’t doubt.

Same

  • Last year, though most of the year I forgot to do it, I told myself to do a few new things I hadn’t done before. Now I know what you’re thinking, biggest cliché in the “self-help” and “making myself a better person” playbook. BUT I’m serious, and this is the one thing I am going to continue to do this year, that I want to keep the same. However, I’m not going to tell you to quit your job (seriously, I’m never going to tell you that unless you’ve already signed the contract for the next job), or move interstate, or date the leader of a cult to turn your world upside down, but do little things, things that it will be awesome if you have a fun time, and you’re really no worse off if you have a crap time. Here are some suggestions from random things that I did:
Go and watch a sport you’ve never seen, even if you’re not a sporty person. I watched ice hockey last year on a whim, now own three jerseys for my local team, and contemplating getting a tattoo! (Joking? Serious? You’ll never know).

 

You know that movie that you want to see but you can’t get your friends organised? Go and see it… dun dun dun…. ALONE! Firstly, it’s a movie so when you get in there no-one is going to really notice you’re alone anyway. You can always tell the cashier that your ‘friend’ is running late and you’re going to be sharing that large popcorn you just bought. Secondly, and more importantly, you want to see the damn movie, so why would you wait for your silly friends? Pointless really.

 

Drive (or bus or scooter or roller-coaster) a little out of your comfort zone (suburb, town, city, state) and see what’s out there. Some of the most randomly beautiful or cool places are actually right under your nose. I once drove 15 minutes north of my suburb, which is in the city, and I hit farms! Had a picnic in a beautiful paddock all while still being able to see the infrastructure in the distance.

 

Is there a music concert in your area that sounds vaguely interesting and is cheap as chips? Just go, why not? At least you can say you went, and with or without friends, you can still get a good selfie and a band t-shirt.

 

Attempt a random activity in your local community. You have no idea what is on offer unless you pull your head out of your socks and go try it. Last year I went glassblowing one afternoon, just because. It was so interesting, and awesome, and now I have a funky paperweight that I made all by myself!

 

Volunteering is the best thing ever. You’re going to see me ramble about it a lot because I absolutely adore it! But stop thinking “ah yes sir, I’d like to volunteer as a lawyer” (you were supposed to read that in a very proper voice), and start saying “I love kids, let’s volunteer at a school” “I’d like to help people, let’s volunteer at the hospital” and other awesome things like that. Do something that isn’t you at all, and if you love it – great; if you don’t, better luck next time. Volunteer groups are always so happy to have assistance, even short term, so go look up “University Volunteers Australia” on Facebook and contact them for info (don’t worry, you don’t have to be a university student, it’s just the name, and it caters for people who have heavy commitments).

 

Make something! Anything! Whether it is a half day’s work or a 6 month project, make something. Attempt it, even if you completely stuff it up, you’ll learn something at least. Build a small table (Bunnings has free classes!), sew a pair of pants, bake some cookies and decorate them, make juggling balls from small bags of birdseed inside a balloon! The potential is infinite, and a good way to spend some down time. You can always give them as gifts, sell them at a market or throw them out on garbage night under the cover of darkness. But most importantly you can be proud of making something all by yourself like the clever law person you are.

I hope I have somewhat assisted in your new plans for (micro) world domination! 22 is going to be the best year yet because I am going to get an awesome job, write things for you guys and I’m going to Jamberoo for my party and I’ve never been to a water park before. Wheeeeee!

Until next time!

 

Georgia is a recent graduate from the University of Canberra and at the age of 21 is at the stage of searching for that dream job to lead her from her double degree of Law and Events Management into being a ‘real adult’. Her column “I Object” is a monthly piece about the thoughts, processes, and sometimes (who are we kidding- pretty often) tedious hurdles that post law school life can be.

I Object!

By Georgia Briggs

Georgia is a recent graduate from the University of Canberra and at the age of 21 is at the stage of searching for that dream job to lead her from her double degree of Law and Events Management into being a ‘real adult’. Her column “I Object” is a monthly piece about the thoughts, processes, and sometimes (who are we kidding- pretty often) tedious hurdles that post law school life can be.

georgiaBriggs

“I’ll never forget my first day of law school, I was actually an Arts student at the time, trying to make the grades to switch over, I already felt like everyone could see my disguise. They know, crap! (I totally made it through though, woo!)

It was like one of those horrible cliche movies of university, I sat down in the class (don’t worry, I wasn’t late because I left 30 minutes before necessary to ENSURE that didn’t happen) but as the lecturer began she said words to the effect of “I assume everyone has read the first 5 chapters of the book as required”.
Ummm… Sorry, What?!

*cue Elle Woods moment of “I wasn’t aware there was a reading assignment” *.

That’s what seems to be happening in the post law school daze I’m in, a lot of “Ummm… Sorry,What?!” moments.

I’m coming to realise that this is actually pretty normal, and me feeling like legal life decides to smack me over the head with failure every so often, just to keep me in check, is okay. While I can’t promise (and shall not, because I’m a lawyer so we don’t promise things) that I have some handy tips for you, or my short thought bubbles will assist you in getting that dream job that for some reason didn’t land on your lap the day of graduation (Sorry, What?!), I can aim to uplift some spirits while you read, hopefully rofl-ing (oh yes, you read correctly, rofl) and feeling better about it all, or at least I can occupy several minutes of your time each month that you’ll never get back. Enjoy!”