By Delania Barbee • October 06, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Law School, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life
I applied to be a Ms. JD Writer-in-Residence to provide tips to women law students and lawyers on how to best deal with change. I have always known that life is filled with both desired and undesired transitions. Personally, I had a significant change in my life as I lost my fiancé unexpectedly. This transition in my life led to a mindset shift as I think about my career moving forward.
Even more than ever, I understand the importance of a holistic career journey, a career where “work-life” integration is emphasized more than “work-life” balance. The need for balance implies that there is tension between two or more competing forces. Instead, your career should function within the ultimate vision that you have for your life.
Career options may seemingly be limited, and it can be tempting to take the first position offered to you. However, you should try to find a position that allows for you to continue hobbies; find the role that allows you to spend quality time with your parents, children, or other loved ones; find the position that allows you to be authentically you. Understandably, there will be some sacrifice but attempting to integrate work and life will lead to less tension between the two. There are three ways to do this:
- Interview before you are interviewed. It is extremely important to understand the culture of any organization that you want to join. Ideally, you should seek out informational interviews with current members of the organization. I have written more in depth about seeking informational interviews here. Once you are able to connect with an individual at your target organization, ask to have coffee or tea (more affordable!). Do not ask for a job! It will put the individual in an awkward position. Instead, let the person know your interests. It is acceptable to let the individual know that you are interested in an organization like hers and ask for honest feedback about the organization based upon your interests.
- Find out about formal flexibility policies. Many employers now have formal flexibility policies. Flexibility policies may include remote work options, alternative work schedules, or other flexibility choices. Some may believe that there is a stigma associated with alternative work arrangements, particularly in a traditional career like law. However, if an an alternative work arrangement is possible and is what is needed to assist you in living a healthy lifestyle, pursue it.
- Participate in activities with colleagues. Once you have accepted a position, often, there are opportunities to participate in volunteer activities with, or plan events with, colleagues. Although this may take time away from outside activities, this opportunity allows you to get to have deeper interactions with your colleagues. The better the relationship with those with whom you work, the less work feels like work. If you spend most of your day with people, you should enjoy working with them!
Comment below to share any other ways that you find work-life integration to be successful!