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Managing Offers

RECEIVING AN OFFER

DO

DON’T

  • Acknowledge its receipt within 24 hours and graciously thank the employer for the offer.
  • Provide the employer with a response within the employer’s suggested time frame (but see “asking for extensions” below).
  • Read our “managing offers” FAQs.
  • Fail to acknowledge an offer, even if the offer is not from a top choice employer (if you need help crafting a response, come see an OPIA advisor!)

“ON THE SPOT OFFERS”

DO

DON’T

  • Thank the employer for the offer and ask when the employer needs a commitment from you.
  • Read our “managing offers” FAQs.
  • Feel pressure to accept on the spot.
  • Accept to avoid awkwardness with the intention of backing out later (see “accepting and honoring offers” below).

ASKING FOR EXTENSIONS

DO

DON’T

  • Thank the employer for the offer, let them know you are still sorting things out in terms of your summer, and ask if it would be okay to have some extra time to decide.
  • Ask for the least amount of time necessary to get closure with one or two other employers, not for large swaths of time just to generically “see what happens.”
  • Read our “managing offers” FAQs.

ACCEPTING AND HONORING OFFERS

DO

DON’T

  • Once you’ve accepted an offer, honor your acceptance, withdraw all remaining applications and cancel any other scheduled interviews.
  • Let an employer know of any summer commitments/conflicts as soon as you have accepted an offer and have a confirmation your acceptance has been received.
  • If you are hoping to split your summer between two employers, be sure to follow our split summer guidance.
  • Withdraw your acceptance to take a subsequent offer that you prefer.
  • Accept an interview request from another employer after you’ve accepted a position.

DECISION-MAKING

DO

DON’T

  • Thank anyone who helped you think through your summer choices, and let them know your ultimate decision.

On the Job

TIME MANAGEMENT

DO

DON’T

  • Respect busy schedules and show a willingness to plan around the other person’s availability.
  • Meet all deadlines.
  • Surprise your supervisor: if you need more time to complete an assignment or need assistance, ask well in advance of any deadline.

OFFICE CULTURE

DO

DON’T

  • Get to know your co-workers and build relationships.
  • Work pleasantly and effectively with everyone, including support staff.
  • Say thank you when you receive help.
  • Be enthusiastic about your work and your office’s mission.
  • Participate in or contribute to office gossip
  • Treat staff differently depending on their ranking or position.
  • Speak negatively about co-workers, supervisors, or support staff.

ASSIGNMENTS

DO

DON’T

  • Accept all assignments with enthusiasm.
  • Listen carefully to make sure you understand each assignment.
  • For each assignment, make sure you clarify at the outset
  • who it is for
  • the type/length of work product expected
  • any underlying facts or client/case history
  • the deadline.
  • Ask follow up questions as necessary; consolidate all questions into a single e-mail or meeting whenever possible.
  • Make sure all submitted work is polished, finished product (even if your employer asks for a “draft”).
  • Attribute and cite properly.
  • Request feedback.
  • Act as though administrative assignments are beneath you.
  • Respond negatively to constructive criticism or make excuses for submitted work product.
  • Assume that because you are not getting paid, you don’t need to do your best work.

DRESS

DO

DON’T

EMAIL

DO

DON’T

  • Ask your supervisor how they would like to receive information; they may prefer in-person meetings.
  • Follow standard e-mail etiquette.

Interacting with Faculty and Staff

APPOINTMENTS AND MEETINGS

DO

DON’T

  • Show up for all scheduled meetings!
  • If you need to cancel a meeting on short notice because of an emergency, contact the faculty or staff member ahead of time to let them know you won’t be there and apologize for the last-minute cancellation.
  • Prepare for your meeting: send requested materials ahead of time, and take any other steps recommended by the particular faculty member or office prior to showing up for your meeting.
  • Follow up on the advice given to you by the faculty or staff member.
  • If the faculty or staff member has been helpful, thank them!
  • If something exciting (a job, a paper, etc.) came out of your interaction with a faculty or staff member, let them know!
  • Respect faculty and staff members’ time: do your best not to submit last-minute requests for assistance.
  • Fail to show up for a scheduled appointment without any notice.
  • Come to a meeting unprepared or lacking necessary materials (a resume, for example).
  • Bypass established scheduling systems for appointments.
  • React defensively to constructive criticism.

 

EMAIL

DO

DON’T

  • Respond to e-mails sent by faculty or staff members within 24 hours of receipt.
  • Follow standard e-mail etiquette.
  • Ignore or fail to respond to e-mail sent by faculty or staff.
  • Email the same question to multiple staffers in the same office — this wastes time and resources!
  • Make the same mistakes we outline in the e-mail section below.

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION

DO

DON’T

  • Call your potential recommender and arrange a convenient time to meet to discuss your request.
  • provide your recommender with the following materials:
  • addressed and stamped envelope, or web/email address for electronic submission
  • resume
  • writing sample
  • fellowship or job application, including selection criteria, description, and personal statement, as relevant
  • submission deadline.
  • Give your recommmender as much advance notice as possible.
  • If you are applying for multiple opportunities, organize the requests chronologically by deadline, and highlight to your recommender how those opportunities differ so that your recommender may appropriately tailor their letters.
  • Ask for a letter of recommendation on short notice; recommenders should ideally be given at least a month (and at minimum no less than two weeks) to complete your letter.
  • an exception to this general rule may exist if you found out about the opportunity at the last minute, or the opportunity has an exceptionally short application window; in those cases, apologize profusely and give the recommender a chance to say no.
  • expect your recommender to visit each website to check deadlines (or check deadlines through any other medium).

Dress/Presentation

 

IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS

DO

DON’T

  • Note that public sector dress standards are not as uniform as those in the private sector.
  • Note that in the absence of information suggesting otherwise, employers will expect you to:
  • Wear business attire (a blazer plus pants, skirt or a dress is fine; a suit is useful but not required in most cases)
  • Dress professionally for the gender you choose to present or in gender-neutral attire
  • Pay attention to personal hygiene and grooming
  • Sit up straight
  • Keep a tissue accessible in case you sneeze during an interview.
  • Assume you can “dress down,” even if you know an organization has a more casual atmosphere.
  • Play with hair, rings, or socks during an interview.
  • Sit with feet wide apart.

SKYPE INTERVIEW

DO

DON’T

  • Conduct the interview in a clean, distraction-free, noise-free space:  remember that the background setting is part of your formal presentation!
  • Follow the dress code and hygiene standards for in-person interviews (above).
  • Wear both the top and bottom part of your suit or other professional outfit.
  • Make the same mistakes outlined above for in-person interviews.
  • Assume the interviewer can only see your waist up (especially if you have a mirror behind you).
  • Expose too much of your torso; you will present better if your head fills more of the screen.

ON THE JOB

DO

DON’T

  • Seek out a student or graduate who worked in the office to ask about appropriate attire.
  • In the absence of a student or graduate contact, ask the Human Resources or internship coordinator about the office dress code.
  • In the absence of any other information, wear business attire, including appropriate shoes with reasonable heels (at least for your first day!).
  • If your job provides an opportunity to go to court, make sure to wear a suit or have one available at the office.
  • Pay attention to personal hygiene.
  • Make the same mistakes outlined above for in-person interviews.

Interacting with Employers and Funders

RESUMES

DO

don’t

  • Follow our resume tips.
  • Read our resume FAQs.
  • Read (then re-read) your cover letter before sending to check for spelling, grammar, and overall accuracy; have someone else review it, too!
  •  Include typos in your resume.
  • Exceed a single page, except in the fellowships context (see our resume tips).
  • Exaggerate your educational background, experience, or specific job responsibilities.

COVER LETTERS

DO

DON’T

  • Follow our cover letter tips.
  • Read our cover letter FAQs.
  • Read (then re-read) your cover letter before sending to check for spelling, grammar, and overall accuracy; have someone else review it, too!
  • Be careful not to claim that an employer is your first choice, unless you are certain this is true and will remain true (remember that interview experiences can sometimes change your mind or shift your preferences in unexpected ways).
  •  Address your cover letter to the wrong employer or to the wrong office (national organizations may have several offices in multiple geographic locations, but some may not be interested in hiring candidates in a given year).
  • Include typos in your cover letter.
  • Exaggerate your educational background, experience or specific job responsibilities.

APPLICATION MATERIALS

DO

DON’T

  • Submit only those materials requested by an employer (note that a handful of employers may appreciate a well-written cover letter even when one is not requested; if you are unsure which materials you should submit to a particular employer, ask an OPIA advisor.
  • Unless otherwise indicated in an employer’s instructions, submit all application materials in a single PDF file clearly labeled with your name and the content (e.g., “Jane Doe ACLU Internship Application”).
  • Read (then re-read) your materials before sending to check for  spelling, grammar and overall accuracy.
  • Submit materials employers did not ask for.
  • Make it difficult for employers to access your materials, either by generically naming your materials (e.g., “resume 2017”) or submitting a series of separate attachments.
  • Submit materials with “track changes” or edits showing.

INTERVIEWING

DO

DON’T

  • Follow our interview tips.
  • Read our interview FAQs.
  • Know the exact time and location of your interview, and show up at least 10 minutes early!
  • Treat everyone you encounter with courtesy and respect.
  • Be careful not to claim that an employer is your first choice, unless you are certain this is true and will remain true (remember that interview experiences can sometimes change your mind or shift your preferences in unexpected ways).
  • Fail to show up for an interview.
  • Cancel an interview with less than 24 hours notice.
  • Make negative comments about previous employers or others during an interview.
  • Treat an interview too casually: do your research on the employer and position, and do not raise details you have discovered about your interview that might feel too personal!
  • “Friend” on Facebook or other social media (Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) your interviewer or any other employer contact.
  • Note that once your being work, it may be appropriate to ask your employer contacts to connect via LinkedIn; it may also be appropriate to “friend” fellow interns.

NETWORKING

DO

DON’T

  • Follow our networking tips.
  • Be flexible and work around your contact’s availability; they are doing you a favor!
  • Know the exact time (and time zone) of your meeting or call, and make sure you show up!
  • If you need to cancel a meeting or call on short notice because of an illness or emergency, communicate swiftly and clearly with the affected party.
  • Fail to show up for a call or meeting.
  • Cancel a call or meeting on short notice.
  • Fail to send a thank you note (email or print) to someone who has graciously taken the time to speak with you.
  • Forget to let them know if your conversation later led to a new contact, job, or other opportunity.

Email Etiquette

ADDRESSING EMAILS

DO

DON’T

  • Use formal greetings (“Dear Ms./Mr./Attorney Jones”).
  • After an employer contact, supervisor, or co-worker has signed an e-mail with their first name, address subsequent e-mails to that name (e.g., “Jane,” “Dear Jane,” etc.).
  • Use informal greetings (“hey,” “hi,” etc.): these are for friends/family, not professional relationships.
  • Send separate e-mails asking the same question of multiple supervisors or co-workers; include all relevant recipients in a single e-mail.

SUBJECT LINE

DO

DON’T

  • Provide a short, clear, specific subject line that conveys the e-mail’s content.
  • Use vague language in your subject line.
  • Use a long subject line.

ATTACHMENTS

DO

DON’T

  • Label your attachments appropriately to indicate their content.
  • When submitting application materials, include them in a single attachment labeled with your name (e.g., “Jane Doe Internship Application”).
  • Use PDF format whenever possible; otherwise, use Word (remember to accept any tracked changes before sending a Word document).
  • Limit the size of any attachments; you don’t want to crash your reader’s inbox.
  • Limit attachments to only necessary documents.
  • Use generic labels for your attachments (e.g., “resume”, “resume 1,”“resume 2017,” instead of “John Doe Resume”).
  • Send unnecessary attachments.
  • Send unusually large attachments.

CONTENT

DO

DON’T

  • Be as short and succinct as possible.
  • Use a basic, readable font.
  • Pay attention to tone; think about how your words will come across.
  • Read (then re-read) your e-mail before sending to check for spelling, grammar and overall accuracy.
  • Take care not to be too colloquial in content, language or tone.
  • Respond with the same means of communication requested; if you are called, call back — if emailed, respond in kind.
  • Use emojis or emoticons.
  • Use unnecessary graphics or colors.
  • Include long paragraphs of text; employers are busy and do not have time to read lengthy e-mails.
  • Bury questions within text; make sure questions are clearly laid out for your reader.
  • Assume your e-mail is private; don’t include anything in an e-mail you wouldn’t want the world to see.
  • Forward an e-mail without permission.
  • Hide behind e-mail; sometimes personal contact is better for more sensitive topics.

TIMING

DO

DON’T

  • Respond to e-mails as quickly as possible, even if just to acknowledge receipt and then follow up substantively later.
  • Let an e-mail languish in your inbox for more than 24 hours without a response; ideally, you should respond within hours of receipt.

Social Media

ONLINE PRESENCE

DO

DON’T

  • Google yourself to see what is out there about you online.
  • Build a professional, well-written, up-to-date online profile.
  • Remove any inappropriate personal pictures or commentary posted online.
  • Remember that any information you provide online will likely live there forever.
  • Post inappropriate personal pictures or commentary (e.g., involving or referencing alcohol, drugs, or weapons).
  • Use profanity.
  • Post pictures or commentary from/about your employer, job, coworkers, clients, witnesses, etc.
  • Post confidential information.
  • Upload anything you wouldn’t want everybody to see.
  • “Friend” on Facebook or other social media (Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) permanent staff, supervisors, or hiring contacts.
  • Note that once you begin work, it may be appropriate to ask your employer contacts to connect via Linkedin; it may also be appropriate to “friend” fellow interns.

MANAGING SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

DO

DON’T

  • Use privacy settings (but see related don’t).
  • Assume that employers will not be able to access any of your online information, even information hidden behind privacy settings.