As I have mentioned before, I work in the legal department of a large Wall Street firm. Like many large companies my company does a lot of work in the community. The reasons are not important for this article and I do not wish to debate them. Suffice it to say that we (the firm) provide many opportunities to the students of two of the local high schools which are two inner-city high schools.
Every September and October, we have a class of high school seniors come in and work at the company through our High School Internship Program. The Program is one of the few paid internship programs still in existence.
In the legal department we normally hire one student every academic year and if it works out we may offer that student employment through the summer on a part-time basis while they are getting ready to go on to college. All in all it’s a win/win situation. We, the company, get some of the entry-level work done and the student gets exposure to all that is available to our full time employees. That includes continuing education classes, industry information seminars, etc.
As the paralegal supervisor, every year I am in charge of supervising the students. I make sure I expose them to a variety of matters and ensure that they work with every attorney on a one-on-one basis.
The first thing the firm, as a whole, does with the student, on the first day of their internship, is provide them with a full day of training about the financial industry. Here they learn about compliance issues, anti-money laundry issues, we have speakers from each department come and give them a brief introduction of what our firm does and what services we provide. We do not expect them to retain all the information but at least be knowledgeable enough to understand what it is that we do and know enough to understand some of the compliance red-flags, if they are faced with any throughout their time with us.
HR does a great job at this introduction into the firm. I don’t meet the students until almost the end of the day where I go pick them up at the Learning Center to bring them up to the legal department and introduce them to everyone.
This year, when I went to pick up my intern, they were running a bit late with the end of their training session so I sat on the side-lines and had the opportunity to listen in on what was being said.
They were at the point of the Question and Answer part of the training and HR was advising them of our dress code policy and attendance policy. I know these are high school students and some may have never been exposed to someone working in an office setting. However, I was amazed to hear some of the questions being asked.
I thought I put out a short list of what is not appropriate to wear at work:
- Jeans (unless it’s denim day and you receive an email about it);
- If you raise your arms and I can see your belly button, you should rethink that shirt;
- Sneakers/tennis shoes (this is never appropriate);
- Spandex pants (I don’t care how cute you look in them);
- Nose and lip piercings (take those off if you want to be taken seriously);
- Tattoos (If you have one already there’s really nothing we can do about it, but if you’re thinking of getting one make sure it’s not somewhere where it will be seen);
- Uggs (they are cute, I wear them for my commute and they are sooooo toasty, but in the office make sure you have on appropriate footwear);
- Flip-flops (Again, I love them in the summer. I probably live in them on weekends but they are not work appropriate)
- Skin tight or very short skirts (If the skirt is something you will be wearing to the club (and I don’t mean a country club) on a Friday or Saturday night, you should not be wearing it at work);
I hope this helps some of you who will be looking for your first job or internship in the next few months. Good luck and let me know how it goes.