Category Archives: OCI

Don’t Tell Me to Get a Real Job: A Camp Kid’s Path to Bay St.

If you’ve worked at camp, you’ve heard it before: “isn’t it time to get a real job”? The first time this question was posed to me, I got defensive. But as time went on, I began to feel sorry for the person asking it because clearly the person had no idea what it’s like to work at camp. That person hadn’t had the experiences or opportunities that only camp can provide – and as a result, all I can do is feel sorry for them. But this post isn’t for the people who don’t understand. Sure – if someone who has never been to camp can read this and gain a greater appreciation for what it means to be a camp counselor, then that would be great – but the intended audience here is you: the camp kid. The one who, at 17-years-old, stayed up with a homesick camper or facilitated cabin clean-up with a group of 10-year-olds; or the 19-year-old who was responsible for teaching a new skill and driving children around the lake on a ski-boat; or the 21-year-old who managed a group of staff not more than three years younger and provided evaluations, feedback and guidance. Camp is a wild place – not simply because of how much fun it is (which it is), but because of what it offers young adults like us.

Pisher (2007)

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a camp guy. My first summer at Camp Kadimah was in 2007 as a 12-year-old pisher with chubby cheeks and braces (as you can see). 12 short summers later, in 2018, I ended off my camp career after 6 years on staff, as Assistant Director.

This summer at Cassels Brock is my first full summer spent in Toronto since I was 12. In other words, this job is my first full-time summer job that isn’t camp. Yeah. It’s a bit different. But don’t you dare read ‘different’ as ‘harder’ – cause honestly – it isn’t.

Regardless of your position at camp, if you want to be a good staff, there are a few base-level skills that you need to demonstrate: initiative, effective communication, critical thinking, and the ability to work as part of a team. If you are able to refine these skills, I promise you, you will make a fantastic camp counselor. But not just that – I also promise you that you will be well on your way to becoming successful beyond your years at camp.

The truth is, the value of the work experience you get at camp cannot be recreated in any city job, at least not at the same age. In what “office” job would you be given managerial responsibilities before you can legally rent a car? In what “city” job would a teenager be tasked with the business’ most integral operations? The answer: none.

Now that you’re nearing or are at the end of your camp career, the question is: what’s next? You need to figure out how to qualify and quantify the totality of your camp experiences, consolidate them, and tie them up in a nice bow with the end product being your resume and cover letter. While this may sound hard to do, it’s not. It just takes the right kind of guidance. Which is where I can come in. If you, like me, spent the better part of your childhood at camp and continued onto become a staff, I think I can help. And even if you didn’t spend that many years at camp but worked on staff for even just one or two summers, those experiences are nonetheless valuable.

Leadership, management, loyalty, intuition, initiative, critical thinking, teamwork, communication…

These are the buzz words that, whether or not they want to admit it, your future employers love to see. What can separate you from the rest is that you have a tangible, real-world experience under your belt where you have not just practiced these skills, but have refined and re-refined them.

While it’s always sad to move on from camp (trust me, I’m still trying to get over it), it should be a small reassurance to know that not only do your memories of the summers-past stay with you, but also the skills and experiences that you inevitably gained will stay with you too. It is these skills and experiences that have prepared you for this moment, and provided you with a uniquely strong base for you to begin your professional career.

Working on Bay St. is no more a “real job” than working in Barss Corner, Nova Scotia at Camp Kadimah was, and I find myself lucky to have wound up at a firm that gets that. And trust me, Cassels does get it. But it’s up to you to make sure your future employer, no matter who they may be, knows that just as well as we do.

Pisher in a suit (2019)

(p.s. my offer to help still stands – shoot me an email, find me on Facebook, drop into my DMs.. I really am happy to help. The more camp kids here the better!)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Advice, OCI, Tips

First 2L Summer Student at Cassels Calgary

When I started here I did not know what to expect – I am the first student Cassels Brock’s Calgary office had hired in the 2L recruit for a summer position. Being at a newer and growing office, I was not sure what types of files I would get to work on. Would there be a volleyball team like the Toronto office?

Now that I am half way through my term, I still have not played any volleyball, but I am pleased that I have had the opportunity to work on a number of big and interesting files. These include: regulatory applications for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project with our Regulatory partner, CNRL’s $3.8 Billion purchase of Devon Energy assets with our Business Law partner and $100 million insolvency files with our Restructuring & Insolvency Group partner.

What is the common thread running through all these experiences? Our growing office has big and interesting files! I am also getting the opportunity to work directly with some really knowledgeable senior lawyers instead of working through a big hierarchy. Everyone has been great at involving me in their work, explaining the context behind it, and helping me develop my skills.

Now I just have to get that volleyball team going!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Misc., OCI, West Coast Best Coast

Coffee Chats 101

Hey Blogwell readers! Now that we are in June, I’m sure you all can’t wait to chat with us about our student experience at Cassels Brock so far!

If you are a law student heading into your second year of school this fall, you may already be thinking about the wonderful and blissful experience that is OCI recruitment. Here are a few tips to help you prepare.

1.Schedule a phone call or a  coffee chat

Although applications are not due until August, now is a great time to start researching the firms that interest you. Phone calls and coffee chats with current summer students are a great way to do this.

Start by visiting the Cassels Brock student website (http://www.cbbstudents.com) where you can find our current summer students bios and contact information. If it is possible, reach out to a summer student that attends the same law school as you. Send one of us an e-mail introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the firm, and we will be happy to schedule a phone call or coffee chat with you!

2.     Do your research to ask great questions

The next step is preparing questions before your call or coffee chat. There are tons of standard go-to questions when chatting with a summer student at any firm. For example, you can ask a student about the most exciting assignment they have received this summer, or if there was something specific that drew them to the firm during the recruitment process.

While these are great questions, the best way to stand out and demonstrate interest is to have firm-specific questions ready. Take the time beforehand to research our general and student websites to get a sense of the student program and the type of work the firm does. Since you are reading Cassels Brock & Blogwell, you are off to a great start!

3.    Attend our open houses

Open houses are another great way to meet with current summer students, lawyers and learn more about Cassels Brock. The Toronto office is holding two open houses – July 18 and August 1, both from 12-1pm. The Vancouver office will host an open house on July 24 from 4-5pm. Register here to attend.

 

 

 

 

4.    Send thank you e-mails

After speaking with a summer student, send a quick e-mail thanking them for their time. This is also the perfect opportunity to reiterate that you are interested in working at Cassels. Now, you have plenty of information to help you tailor your cover letter to the firm.

Phone calls, coffee chats and going to open houses are truly valuable experiences to have before submitting applications and heading into OCI’s. Last summer, I spoke with a student at Cassels over the phone, and later in the summer we met for coffee. Not only did she tell me about her amazing experience at Cassels, but she was also generous enough to read over my cover letter and provide me with tips for OCI’s (thank-you Grace Wu!!).

We hope this helps and we can’t wait to hear from you!

Comments Off on Coffee Chats 101

Filed under Advice, Misc., OCI, Tips

OCI Applications: Cover Letter, Resume & Final Tips

Since 5 PM on Monday August 21 is fast-approaching, our summer student group thought it would be beneficial to share some final tips of advice as you finalize your cover letters and resumes. We know the stress of uploading every document to the ViDesktop… making sure that every T is crossed and I is dotted.

Don’t fret! Considering the fact that all of us went through the exact same process last year, we thought we would share some of the key features/ elements of a successful cover letter.

1) Know yourself and be able to communicate your “theme” in your cover letter

The reader of your cover letter will be greatly impressed when they can draw connections between your resume and your cover letter. You want your cover letter to provide a strong sense of your personality, character, work ethic, and attitude. Every line you include in your cover letter should therefore have a purpose. Make sure you are drawing connections between the work experience and the skills you acquired during the experience.

For example, if you were a barista at Starbucks, do not waste valuable real estate on explaining the role of a barista. Everyone generally knows the roles and duties of a barista at a coffee shop. Do your best to communicate the lessons and skills you gained on the job, IE: “Over the past four years, I have worked as a barista at Starbucks Canada, where I was promoted from Jr. Server into a managerial role, overseeing roughly 15 employees. It was through this experience where I learned the value of working within a team-setting under tight deadlines.”

Already, as a reader, we would get the sense that you are team player who rose through the ranks based on hard work, dedication, and commitment. Do not be afraid to tell your story!

2) Be honest about your interests but do not pigeon hole yourself (if applying to a full-service firm).

At Cassels Brock, we are a full-service firm, which means that our lawyers practice all different types of law. Our advocacy and business groups consist of many sub-groups and practice areas. This structure is quite similar at other firms. As a reader, one would definitely want to see that you are interested in certain areas of the law. It shows that you have done your research and have selected courses that can somewhat prepare you for practice. At the same time; however, always keep an open mind.

Many of us wrote to Cassels something alone these lines: “I am interested in your franchise and intellectual property groups, but would welcome the opportunity to gain broad exposure to the various groups within advocacy and business law.”

3) Always include a paragraph on WHY the firm

We are sure that many, if not most of you, have attended various firm tours across the city over the course of the summer. While it may not be apparent to you just yet, you will notice (during in-firm interviews) that firms embody distinct cultures. Ultimately, many of you will be making decisions about your legal career based on a specific culture of a firm. If you have had the opportunity to speak with summer students/ articling students and/or lawyers from firms, be sure to mention some of the integral tidbits they shared about the firm in your cover letter. Always explain to the reader WHY you see yourself making a great addition to the firm and WHAT about the firm attracted you to apply. Do your best to communicate characteristics and/or features that are not directly mentioned on the website.

Were there certain diversity initiatives about the firm that you admired? Did a summer student speak about a work assignment that seemed exciting and intriguing? Did you speak to a recruiter about the unique qualities of the firm? Be sure to mention those key interactions/ conversations! It will benefit you in the long run, especially when you are able to put a name to a face during the interview process.

Resume

  • Use powerful active verbs such as “I managed,” “I facilitated,” “I organized.”
  • Maximum use of 3 bullets per experience.
  • Try to avoid high school involvement (unless it is inherently unique).
  • Be specific when describing your tasks.
  • Think carefully about your skills and interests section.

Final Tips

  • Be yourself! Everyone in this process values authenticity.
  • Know your personality- be able to recognize the type of firm/ working environment you are looking for (IE: smaller, medium, big, rotational summer program, flexible summer program, litigation, corporate, full-service).
  • Ask meaningful questions (Try not to ask lawyers questions that can be answered directly from the Cassels Brock website).
  • Use students as your resources from beginning to end (Call a friend who interviewed at Cassels prior to OCIs to learn more about the interview experience).

We wish all of you the best of the luck in the process. Our summer term ends Friday August 18th, 2017, but all of us would be happy to provide support and to answer any of your questions throughout the process!

Comments Off on OCI Applications: Cover Letter, Resume & Final Tips

Filed under Archive, OCI

Fashion Friday: 10 OCI/In-Firm Fashion Tips

You have to look your best to do your best.

It might sound silly but that’s one of my favourite sayings – when you’re confident in yourself you give your best.

I think this is especially true during OCIs and In-firms. It’s intimidating enough to meet a bunch of lawyers working at big Bay Street law firms without having to worry about your outfit not being on point. So, hopefully these 10 tips will make your OCIs and In-firms slightly less stressful.

(1) Buy a Nice Suit –Take the time to buy a nice suit. Yes, suits are expensive, and it will seem like a lot of money to spend before you even have a job. However, a nice suit can make all the difference. I should note that by nice I don’t necessarily mean the most expensive suit on the market, you need a decent suit that works for you. For women’s suits especially the hunt can be challenging. My best friend and I went shopping about 8 different times before I found one that worked for me. I found that the Bay and Calvin Klein seemed to have the nicest suits for me, while other people found Banana Republic or J Crew suits work better for them. Brands that work great for your friend might not work at all for you, so be sure to try out lots of places.

(2) Pants or a Skirt – My thought is skirts are best for interviews and the reality is most people go that route. But, some people rock pants and if you’re more comfortable in them wear them – it’s all about confidence. If you have the option to buy a 3 piece suit it’s not a bad idea because you’ll just have more options for when you land that dream job!

(3) Keep the Colours Simple – Most of the women during OCIs and In-firms wore a black, navy, or charcoal suit. There are special rules for men’s suits though, one of which is that men should not wear black suits because they are considered to be too formal. I would also recommend wearing a white or neutral coloured dress shirt under your suit. I chose to wear a collared blouse, but a lot of the women wore a neutral shirt without a collar under their suit. It is important to note that, I know my colleagues Kojo and Tegan would disagree with me on this point. Kojo, being the stylish guy he is, he wore a bright pink tie to his Cassels interview. Tegan went to OCIs with a patterned shirt under her suit. Again it’s all about confidence!

(4) Go to a Tailor – A little bit of tailoring can make all the difference. I’ve heard a lot of lawyers say that it is better to have a less expensive suit that fits right, than an ill-fitting more expensive suit. So, when you are buying your suit, keep in mind that it will take time and cost extra money to get it tailored.

(5) Nails Done… – This is a very small detail, but you want to make sure you look put together from head to toe. I would suggest either a clear coat of nail polish or getting a neutral coloured shellac polish. The days are long and a regular coloured coat of polish may chip.

(6) Hair Done… – Again it’s about looking polished and professional. Most people wear their hair down and neat but a simple ponytail or bun is also an option.

(7) Everything Did (oh you fancy huh… but not too fancy don’t overdo it)Wear Natural Makeup – If you wear makeup, I would suggest making it look as natural as possible. Also keep in mind that the days are really long and you may not have time for touch-ups. However, it is most important that your makeup is done in a way that makes you feel comfortable and confident. For example, I didn’t wear any lipstick during OCIs/In-firms due to an irrational fear that I would get lipstick on my teeth.

(8) Bring a Structured Purse – For OCIs and In-firms most women brought some sort of purse to hold all of their stuff. As Tegan mentioned in her last post on things to bring with you to OCI’s, the purse you bring should be structured, professional looking, and medium-sized. Don’t worry about the brand. But, if you are looking to save money on a nice bag, I would recommend the Toronto Premium Outlets in Milton, where there’s Kate Spade, Coach, and Michael Kors outlets. You can also find things at Winners or the Bay both name brand and otherwise. Additionally, the simple colours tip from #3 applies to bags as well.

(9) Wear Sensible Shoes – During In-firms especially, there will be a lot of walking from place to place. The best piece of advice I received from upper years was if you plan to wear new shoes to In-firms, make sure you break them in first! Specifically, I would recommend wearing plain black shoes with less than a two inch heel.

(10) Minimal Jewellery (but definitely a watch)– The attention should be on you, not your bling. Some people chose to wear no jewelry but simple studs and/or a simple, small necklace are great options too. Whichever route you go, you should absolutely wear a watch especially for In-firms – you will need to check the time and it is rude to be pulling out your phone. Just be sure the watch you pick is professional (i.e. none of those GPS, calculator, scuba diving plastic ones) and not too flashy.

*Disclaimer, these are my personal opinions with help from Tegan, the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident in your outfit so you will rock your interviews!

Comments Off on Fashion Friday: 10 OCI/In-Firm Fashion Tips

Filed under Fashion Fridays, OCI, Tips