Friday, February 09, 2007

Job Hunt Angst

I had another interview yesterday, with Bachelor #5, the firm that my friend Em is going to. She just came back from volunteering in the Philippines, and she starts work on Monday. I talked to her today and she is so excited to not be coming back to our firm. It was wonderful to hear the happiness in her voice. I want that.

My interview yesterday took about 3.5 hours and I met 5 people, all of whom seemed genuinely nice and seemed to have lives outside of work. Two excellent signs. One recruiter found Bachelor #1 and a different recruiter found Bachelor #5, so now the two recruiters are getting a little antsy. In this game it's expected that you work with at least two recruiters, but now each of them is trying to sell their find. It's slightly annoying, especially since one of the recruiters did way more work. If I end up going with Bachelor #5, that recruiter will get a windfall.

This job hunting thing is stressful. Ever since Bachelor #1 gave me their offer, I've been a ball of anxiety. I know that it's fear of the unknown, but knowing that doesn't make it easier to deal with. My mom, dad, and brother all say that if I pick a place and don't like it, all I have to do is quit. Although I could do that, I would prefer, for once, to feel like I have chosen a law firm wisely.

My major fear is that I'll get into a place that's as bad or worse as my current firm. Some might think that would be difficult, but on the contrary, it's a big risk. Most firms in NY work their associates like dogs, and most expect ridiculous hours. In addition, things haven't been that bad for me lately at my firm. I've been coming in between 10 and 11, Dragon Lady doesn't bother me anymore, I've been doing a lot of pro bono, and since a case that I was on settled, I've kind of been coasting. This last week, I hardly billed anything. Instead, I logged a ton of hours on blogging and checking out celebrity sites.

Not that I want to continue down that path of unmotivated slothfullness, wasted potential, and mediocrity. Ideally, I would like to feel invested and engaged in my work. But, I sure as heck do not want to leave my firm under the current circumstances for a place in which I'll be expected to work hours comparable to what I should be working at my current firm - if I was a good associate.

I'm still filled with ambivalence about the idea of going to another firm. I know it's strategic and I know it makes sense for me right now, but I still worry that it's a step backwards or sideways, as opposed to forwards. Forwards being the public interest job of my dreams where I could do women's rights work full-time.

Today, I reached out to two other contacts about public interest work, and asked one of my friends to forward me more information about a potential reproductive rights job. I wouldn't feel right about hopping to another firm without at least giving any available public interest opportunities/connections a shot. Assuming they don't pan out, I will most likely have to choose one of the firms I've been interviewing at. They all want bright-eyed bushy tailed hard workers who want variety, responsibility, and the chance to develop their legal skills.

Two years ago, I was exactly what they now want. Now, I only pretend to be that. According to my recruiters, the one truth I can't say is my main reason for leaving my firm: I want to work less hours, in a better environment, and have a better, more balanced life. I'm not allowed to say that because the law firms I'm interviewing at might assume that I'm lazy and just want to go to their shop to loaf around.

It's ridiculous that saying you want a balanced life means to many that you are a slacker. The fact is, under their definitions, I am a slacker. I came into the firm being the total opposite, I gave them my blood, and I got nothing worthwhile in return. So, I'm not interested in doing that again. I want to leave at 7:30 most nights and I want my weekends for myself. I want to work to live, not live to work. Maybe I won't be able to do that as a corporate lawyer in New York. Maybe it's silly for me to even try. But, for the moment, that's what I guess I'm trying to do.

This just in: The recruiter who is poised to get a windfall just called. Bachelor #5 really likes me and wants me to come meet their managing partner on Tuesday. That's actually flattering that they're moving so quickly. Hmmm.... Bachelor #5 might be pulling ahead.


Dutch said...

If you think this shit is tough now, wait till you've had a baby. you need to be asking these firms about their maternity leave policies and child care assistance policies, if any.

even more importantly, seek out women (and men!) at these firms who've had kids and ask what they did in reality no matter what their firm's policies are.

It might be a good sign if there are paternity leave policies and the men actually used them.

gravelly said...

Buttercup! Do what you think is best for you: if it is staying with your present firm, so be it. Just ask LOTS of questions at the interviews...I know in the end you will make the right decision. Keep us posted!!!

Karianne said...

I think that I'm with the fam on this one. Maybe once you leave your first icky post, it will be easier to leave the second if it isn't your cup of tea. That sounds so hard though to make a decision because the truth cannot be told by either side. Good luck. I know that you will make the right choice because any choice you make will be the right one at the time.
Try to enjoy your weekend,

Starshine said...

Oh, wow! Dutch made a really good point!

I'm so happy for you!!! Can't wait to see where you end up.

Prue said...

Buttercup - Recruiters know how this game works, so I wouldn't lose even a tiny bit of sleep over how your decision will affect them. They'll be fine.

Buttercup said...

Dutch, I've been waiting to hear you say that for 2 years!! :) You make a good point. I haven't given much thought to that as I expect to not be there for the long haul, but you're right that how firms handle maternity/paternity could speak to their culture. I'll check it out (carefully).

Gravelly - I know staying at my firm is not the best for me, so I'll just have to find a good alternative. Thanks for the support.

Karianne - I think that's right. I mean even my decision to come to this firm, thought not the most informed, was what I needed to do at the time. I think it will ultimately all work out but it is hard to make these decisions. Dutch is right though, I can't imagine having to make these type of decisions while worrying about a whole family and a child!! I have it so easy now in so many ways b/c it's just me.

Starshine - Dutch is good like that.

Prue - Ok, I will keep that in mind.

InterstellarLass said...

We spend more hours of our life working than we do with friends and family. And work wants us to work more. Do more. Sacrifice more. And all that work doesn't benefit us as much as it does the company. I'd much rather do a good job than a great job. Because that means I get to go to band recitals and basketball games. That's what's important to me. If a great job means I don't get to do those things, then fine by me. I'll be 'mediocre' in their estimation.