It turns out that the Office of Career Services at Harvard Law School has been sending out weekly tips to the hordes of HLS summer associates working around the country. Because it’s Harvard, most of the tips are in Latin and can only be read with the special Crimson decoder ring every HLS student gets along with President Obama’s cell phone number and some lembas bread.
Just kidding… lembas bread isn’t real.
The tips themselves aren’t earth-shattering, they’re standard career-services speak that are useful only if you find the maxim “don’t be a f**king tool” lacking in specificity. But the progression of the tips, now that is fantastic. In a way, the tips kind of follow the life cycle of an ivory-tower babe who is thrust into the real world. Let’s take a look at how Harvard wants its students to approach their summers…
The Beginning Tips: Please Act Human
During the first few weeks, HLS really wants its students to be successful at basic human interaction. Don’t laugh. By the time they get to their summer jobs, most HLS kids have spent two years where “that’s f**king stupid, did you even DO the reading” is a perfectly socially acceptable response to a person who orders chicken fingers instead of pot stickers.
The tips from the first four weeks of the summer mainly involve telling the charges how to re-enter society (click to enlarge):
You see my point? The tips are “Go to lunch!” and “Make friends!” and “Don’t take criticism like a personal insult to you and your ancestors!” Welcome to the real world, HLS students.
The Middle: Work Your Ass Off
Of course, being a person is only half of the battle. The other half is doing the work. Harvard wants its summers to understand that building a reputation for turning in excellent work product starts over the summer. If the first part of the summer is dedicated to exhibiting the basic social skills that will ensure an offer, the next part of the summer is all about turning into the kind of productive law-drone that can get you labeled as a “superstar” before the summer is even out.
You won’t be a “superstar,” of course… not until you can start making it rain. Still, HLS wants you to know that this is a job and and that you should be working that job at all points:
Maintain a constant work stream. Dudes, it’s the summer. It only gets worse from here.
Of course, HLS anticipates that many of its students will follow these tips and hate their jobs by the end of the summer.
The Ending: I Didn’t Ask If You Liked It
The final two slides address the part of the summer where HLS students start to realize that this job they’ve been trying to get for two years sucks. It’s not intellectually stimulating. It’s not a deep dive into the philosophy or history of laws. It’s not a debate. You don’t argue. It’s just… work yo.
Work that pays you a lot of money… so STFU:
After ten weeks of Biglaw, ten weeks over the summer, HLS students start thinking of bailing. Firms would be wise to understand this. Most of them won’t and they’ll come back and take the money for a few years. But after just ten weeks at your firm, HLS knows that it needs to remind people not to turn into surly bastards who feel abused by the opportunity to make $160,000 a year.
Whatever. Yale probably sends out only one tip: “Everybody enjoy yourselves. Your clerkships will be waiting when you are done.”