It’s always a great experience to add a new and unique skill to your repertoire – Jai Alai anyone? It’s even more satisfying when this skill unearths itself in a moment of pressure. For example, a Jai Alai game may break out in Commerce Court and you might step up to throw the winning “chula”. Many of the skills a summer student will acquire emerge in just this way: in the heat of the moment, when the pressure is on, a hero will rise. (Gladiator, I think)
Most of these skills never make it on the resume. They’re often too mundane to give their bearer any credentials in an interview. Nevertheless, they are very important in the OCI process and in the summer-student world in general. Here are some of the skills you pick up, but are never really taught, as a summer student:
Eating in a suit. There’s nothing worse than spilling elderberry compote on your lapel. But who, I ask, can abstain from elderberry compote? This is a skill in the same genus as “navigating a cocktail party”, and asks of the summer student the same traits: poise, patience, and attention to detail.
Tying a Tie. Do you know your Four-in-Hand from your Pratt? You will. You will.
Navigating a Cocktail Party. Snacking plate in left hand, wine glass clasped by thumb of left hand, serviette on left-hand cuff. The right hand? That’s for shaking.
Remembering Names. Sounds like an obvious skill in any environment, but often overlooked. You can build a great deal of relationship capital just by recalling a co-worker/interviewer’s name from a prior encounter.
Fixing a paper jam. Just kidding, nobody knows how to do this.
Navigating the PATH. Imagine a series of interconnected tunnels, bearing little relationship to the streets that overlay them, with minor variations in decor and food offerings throughout. You have 5 minutes until your interview starts. And you need a Jugo Juice. Go.
Acquiring these skills, in addition to the new legal expertise you will pick up, makes the summer student experience quite enriching. While you might not learn every eclectic skill there is (at least not until articling), you will be able to engage partner X on the finer points of cross-border insolvency law while munching hors d’oeuvres with a finely dimpled necktie. Not bad for a summer student.