Things I have learned as a city lawyer

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Hi people,

Some of you who have followed MCLA from its inception will recall how I went to law school and got a job. It is not my first job but I must say that it is the first career defining work experience so far as it is right up my professional alley and at it, I have learned a whole lot.

I have learned that your fancy degree(s) might get you the job but only your character and attitude will ensure that you not only keep your job but thrive and excel at it. In fact, these days, many a masters degree holder gets turned back and gets confused: but I thought once I get a masters, the jobs will be lining up for me. These days, masters degrees are a dime a dozen. Everyone and their mama has it. It’s no longer the biggie it was 10 years ago and you need to show more to get the attention of employers and recruiters. I digress.

See, this post is not really about getting the job you want. Its aim is to show how one can enjoy and excel at the job you have. Here are some tips I have discovered whilst working in my law firm. I believe they are applicable anywhere. Enjoy!

1. Understand your role and discover ways to perform your job well

As a lawyer, I get tasks as mundane as writing minutes of a meeting (this is a general summary of what transpired at a meeting for future reference etc) to drafting an entire agreement from scratch i.e. without the use of a template. I have learned that both the seemingly mundane and seemingly important tasks deserve the same level of excellence. My role in the firm is not to draft important agreements. It is to be a useful lawyer and employee. This means if what will make life easier for my boss right now is to prepare an agenda, then an agenda I shall prepare. If tomorrow, I am needed to deal with the administrative aspects of a seminar, then that I shall do. If today, it is to meet with the head of a multinational, then meet I shall.

The point is you are not just there to do the sexy deals. You are there to move the organisation forward and make your presence and in fact, absence felt. Now don’t get it twisted, spending all your time doing admin work will not fetch you much. Wisdom is key.

Further, when you identify what your role is, it is not enough to just do your job. You must do it well and with pride too. Go the extra mile. Suggest an idea that has been playing in your head. Put in the extra oomph. I have watched great models get voted off America’s Next Top Model because they are not memorable. They take great photos and walk the runway well but they are not outstanding and a thousand others do just that. You need to distinguish yourself in your role and let it show that you are different.

standoutfromthecrowd

2. Be a hard worker
Get to work on time. Make good use of the period you are at work. Minimise your gisting and chilling. Don’t go over your allocated breaks, don’t spend the day bb-ing, chatting on your phone, updating your status, using office internet to shop (trust me, you are being observed and even if you are not, it is a thing of integrity).

Phone

It is not enough to just be at work, work hard whilst there. Hone your skills, perfect your craft. If you are in my field, this means reading books, reading emails and ensuring that you are on top of it all, writing and generally endeavouring and working towards being better than you were last month. If you get appraised yearly, appraise your self half yearly. If you get appraised half yearly, appraise yourself every quarter. Your company does its bit by paying you every month. You have to do your own bit by ensuring you do not drop the ball.

3. Dress and act like a professional
Be a professional. Talk like a professional. Use the right lingo. Dress well. In my field, this means keeping your coat of many colours to a minimum or better still, for Church. It means dressing the way the partners in your firm dress not necessarily with the price tag but with professionalism.

dress_2410

Be friendly. Be engaging. Don’t just come to work, do the job and pack your bags. Have buddies. Be nice even as you focus on your job. This does not mean you have to become I go dye and the office clown but you get the point…

4. Have a can-do spirit
Don’t be the one who always notices the faults and ends with the words ‘it is not possible’, ‘I cannot do it’. Even if you have the gift of identifying the problems and drawbacks with a plan, always end with a possible solution. Clients don’t always care how you go about solving their problems. They do know they have problems or potential problems so they do not need you to highlight them all and end with ‘not possible!’. Yes, it might not be possible this way, but what about that way. Remember, there is always a way. Your company’s role is to find it. You can be the solution provider! Start thinking like the boss.

5. Know and respect hierarchies
Yes, this means knowing who’s boss and treating them accordingly. Your bosses range from the MD/CEO or Managing Partner, to the other partners to your HOD to the girl who finished law school a year ahead of you even though when you were in SS3 in QC, she was in JSS 3. That’s just the way it is, at least in my industry! Until you distinguish yourself and are consequently elevated, you might need to take orders or to put it mildly ‘instructions’ from someone who would is younger than your little ones who call you ‘Sister’. Yup! Leave the chip on your shoulder in your car. Remember it is a job. Be professional. This is not your family meeting or your home. This is work. Age is literally nothing but a number, an insignificant one. The only number that matters is your years of experience and how well you are doing your job, your client score card etc, not your age.

6. Take initiative
Like I alluded to earlier, merely doing your job will help you keep it but might not mean you will excel and be a high flyer. You will be just a normal worker, nothing special, just there. You need to push the boundaries, identify voids and ways things could be done better in the company as a whole and your unit specifically. Make suggestions. If your boss is not too much of a my way or the high way person, you could even dare to make a small change here and there and share with him/her after.

7. Not everything is about better pay and commendation
As nice as it is for all your handwork and excellent attitude to be noticed by all and rewarded by the big guys, it is actually for your own good and personal development. So don’t get all grumpy and discouraged if a red carpet welcome does not await you the day after your brilliant suggestion saved the day. And please don’t give up because your wonderful ideas etc in March does not reflect in a big bonus if any. It is not about immediate applause and commendation or pay or reward. It is about building yourself to a certain level that your ‘outstandingness’ cannot but go noticed AND rewarded…

8. Be prayerful
I saved the very best tip for the last. The power of prayer for favour and grace cannot be overemphasised. No matter how much you hustle, without the touch of God, your efforts might be frustrated. Without God, the builders build in vain and without God, the watchmen watch in vain (Psalm 127).

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So there you have it guys, my tips for excelling in your careers. I’m sure there are much more you can add to the foregoing. Please do in the comment section below. Even the word of God says, “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.” Proverbs 22:29. Also, Colossians 3:22 says, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God”. Okay, you are not exactly in a servant/master relationship but you get the drift…Then again, who are we kidding!

Have a lovely weekend guys!!!

Temiville.xoxo

Customer Service Training and Job Offer: Introducing Telepoint Communications Ltd!

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Hi people,

How’s it going? Hope you all had a nice holiday last week. I hope y’all are having fun. Not many people feel the holidays to be honest. So many of my friends still have to go to work. For those of us who are still waiting on The Lord, there is no clear difference between a working day and a holiday. Everyday, I wake up, say my prayers, say prayers with mom and dad, check for any email from the places I applied, refresh my forever open Law School website to find out if the results are out…

This leads me nicely to the topic for today…Customer Service Training! Now, hear me out guys. Before you start screaming ‘but I studied Banking and Finance!!!’ Lol. Now, when I first heard about so many Graduates of different discipline going to do two week courses on customer service, I was like ‘lai lai’. But then I was approached by the people at Telepoint Communications Ltd to let people know about the training and how useful it is. I visited them three times because as you all know, I’m not one to speak for people like that if I don’t know what exactly you’re about.

I went to their office on Allen Avenue and I saw my legal seniors at the Bar, doctors, accountants from Ife, LASU, MSc degree holders, etc. They were all trying to go through customer service training after which they will write an examination and then get a certificate. I also found out about some who had gone on to secure great jobs thereafter. Most of them get to work in the telecoms industry, others carry in with their respective fields, but all are empowered and more marketable.

Here is more direct information from them:
TELEPOINT COMMUNICATIONS LTD

EARN UP TO N90,0000 MONTHLY THROUGH CUSTOMER SERVICE/CALL CENTER

Become a Customer Care/Call Centre Agent after 2 weeks’ intensive training and earn up to 90,000 Naira monthly as Job Placement Opportunities are available right after training.

Address: Visit 82 Allen Ave Ikeja, opposite Mainstreet bank Lagos or call any of the Advisors.

NB:
-Accommodation available at a small fee for those that do not reside in Lagos
-Weekend option available for those currently working

Call:
•Mike 08092298673
•Stephanie 08137234351
•Bunmi 08128693392
•Funmi 08065642110
•Crystal 08137766764
•Desola 08163749903
•Chioma 07063310536
•Monday 08130360372

http://www.lagostelecom.com
http://www.facebook.com/TMDiploma

So guys, for those like us waiting for work, we can learn something new whilst waiting with a tempting possibility of even branching out. I hear ASUU is on strike, you can take 2 weeks out of sitting at home to learn something new that will set you apart. From learning this transferable skill, you can apply it to an interview to get a job and distinguish yourself from the pack. Just my thought sha! I’m no marketer lol.

Here I am at the training institute.

Me!

Me!

Here are the students in class

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So go on and give them a call…

He made a Way

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My name is Olawamiri Ayo. Everyone calls me Ola except my mom and dad who insist on saying it as it is. I’m the first of 4. I was the only child for the first 8 years of my life after which my parents proceeded to have 3 more children (all boys) in quick succession. I will be 29 in November this year (2013). Olamide is 20, Oladele is 19 and Olaitan is 17. All three are in a Private University studying Economics.

My tale is one of encouragement…

***

I finished secondary school (FGGC Shagamu) in 2000 and after 3 years of JAMB drama, I finally got admission into OSU to study Business Administration. I just wasn’t able to get into Unilag, IFE or UI- my original choices. I served at a big communications firm in 2008 and since then, it has been one search for a job to the next. As you might have figured, I wasn’t retained. I was terribly disappointed. I gave that job my 100% devotion.

Then, my family lived in Idimu and the firm was in Ikoyi-two opposite ends of Lagos. I would wake up at 4am each morning and be at the bus stop by 5:10. When I was lucky, a family friend who works on the Island would pick me up and when I was not, I would take a bus to Obalende and then find my way to the office, usually on foot. I would get to work really early, all tired and sweaty and freshen up in the bathroom, grab a 15-minute nap before anyone else got to work. By 7:30, I’d be on my computer, responding to emails and generally getting work done. I never left the office before 8pm. Most times, I’d stay till 9/10 in order to follow the family friend home. Whilst I waited to be picked up, I would not just sit idle, I’d get busy and stay busy till he called me that he was entering the street.

Most people did not know I was a corper. I attended meetings alone sometimes and I was almost certain that I would be retained. About a month before passing out, a new girl joined the firm and she was asked to ‘shadow’ me. I was feeling like a boss lady who was now showing someone else the ropes. I was elated. Thinking back now, I seemed to be the only one who was happy. I guess like they say, you are always the last to know you are being ‘stabbed’. It turns out I was showing my replacement the ropes. She was a graduate of UI and had just returned from the US armed with a Masters Degree. I was told I would not be retained but I should feel free to check their website for openings and not hesitate to apply. Like they forgot that I knew the drill. Only about 2 percent of the work force got employed through that website.

Unlike my fellow corpers who were never given any hope of being retained where they served, I had not been applying as I was certain of my place at my posting so I was literally at home for about 6 months after service. I applied anywhere and everywhere. I would wake up in the morning, do my chores and then head for the cyber cafe near the house searching for jobs frantically. It got so bad that the guy there had struck a weekly deal with me instead of paying hourly. I just wanted somewhere to go to every morning wearing a skirt and blouse. My parents, bless them, had turned me into a live-in house maid and it was not unusual for my mom to call me with a list of things to do before she gets back. I was totally and completely frustrated.

sad and frustrated

I hated going for events where I would meet old mates because the first question friends will ask is, ‘so what are you up to these days?’ and after 6 months of having finished NYSC, it was no longer cute to say, ‘I just finished serving’.

After 2 years of doing nothing, I started accepting ushering jobs. We would usher people at events and I would see my classmates from Shagamu and OSU walk into the event looking like they owned the world. A few would say ‘hi’ while most just kept walking. I guess they didn’t want to have to explain to people how they know the usher.

I did the ushering job for about 5 months until the day I saw my ex walk in with his pregnant wife/girlfriend/fiancé. I quit on the spot before they saw me, went through the back door, jumped on the first okada I saw without even telling him where I was going. The okada ended up taking me all the way from Sheraton Ikeja to Idimu- that is normally a 2-3 hour drive. I cried on the okada till I got home. I just didn’t understand how I would search for a job for almost 3 years. I just did not get it. Thankfully, no one was at home when I got there. I went into my dad’s room, took a bottle of red wine, locked myself in my room and finished the entire bottle. I slept till about 10 am the next morning.

That was how I started drinking. I was a secret drinker. I could not continue taking dad’s bottles of wine because he would notice and I certainly could not afford them so I turned to Don Simon. I hated the taste so I would buy Tasty Time and mix it. Sometimes, I’d finish a whole pack before 9 am. I would bounce out of my room in a very chirpy mood, hug my dad and shout the loudest ‘Amen’ during morning devotion and my mom would admire my good nature and how I was taking the whole lack of job issue very well. Little did she know that it was all thanks to alcohol. I heard weed helped one escape reality. If there was somewhere I could get it from without being found out, I’m sure I would have dabbled into that too.

I was very dependent on the alcohol and would take it before facing the world each morning. No one ever found me out. I was the master of deception. Thank God that was the only vice I had and thank God I preferred solo drinking because I’m sure I would have been led into worse things had I not been a lone drunkard.

One random day during my Don Simon/Tasty Time breakfast, I got a message from a group I had joined and someone there shared the story of how they were able to give up alcohol. I was one of those who sent back responses. I said ‘Wow, God is great. What a great testimony!’ I wrote as I sipped on my concoction.

I was at my lowest one day when suddenly, I thought about my life and by myself, went to God in tears and pain and I told Him how angry I was that I had no job even after slaving away in school to get a 2.1 and slaving away during my service year. I ranted in tears for almost an hour, inebriated yet sober. I asked for His help and mercy and I promised to stop with my pattern of drinking.

The miracle did not happen right away but it eventually came. About 2 months after I had that moment with God, I got a call from a multinational I had applied to exactly 7 months before. A polite lady asked to speak with me and then asked if I am still available and interested in the programme. I did not have to write a test. I was interviewed 3 days after on the 31st of March and I was given a letter of employment to begin on the 1st of April-the next day! It was unbelievable! I mean, as I walked out of the meeting with some of the big bosses, I was immediately ushered into HR and handed my already typed up and signed letter which means the ‘interview’ was just formality.

The day before the interview, I had spent about 6 hours in the cyber café near my house researching the company, finding out about all their core areas, recent developments, etc. Lo and behold, I did not have to say one thing from my research at the interview. They simply asked about my experience and what I can bring to the company and voila! I got the position. It might interest you to know that of all 5 of us on the programme from Nigeria, I am the only one without a Masters degree and also the only one without a degree from a foreign university, the oldest (I think I even have passed the cut-off age) and also the only one with a Business-esque (non-professional) degree. The other 4 are: lawyer, economist, accountant-with ICAN and accountant-on level 2 of CFA.

working

Now, I have a job! I will first be a Graduate Trainee for 2 years then confirmed thereafter. I’m in Nairobi for 6 months, Addis Ababa for another 6, Johannesburg for another 6 and the final 6 in London. I look at my official email address, my office laptop and iPad, my official blackberry, my ID card and just smile. Now, I have a tea lady assigned to my desk area when I am in Nigeria who keeps asking, ‘aunty, tea or coffee?’ and I remember when I used to do the asking. God, You are good and Your mercies endureth forever!

Now, I’m happy to set up a LinkedIn account and to re-activate my Facebook. I’m paid a very decent salary (equivalent of 3 times what I would have been earning presently had I been retained at the firm I served) and I get to go for conferences and events like every month. Each time I pass by an usher, I smile and greet them. Usually, they look at me stunned, not understanding why a delegate is taking so much effort to greet them. I have stopped drinking totally. I don’t even take energy drinks. I renewed my relationship with God. I also met the best man ever. He has not proposed or anything but I see where we are headed and it looks like a good place. I have learned to trust in God for the littlest of things. Every experience one faces is like a slap of paint on a canvass. It might not make sense now. It might even look like a mess is being made. But when the Almighty is through with His work, when the Potter is done with the clay, you will be turned into the best-finished product you can ever imagine.

***

I was going through intense depression and alcohol was my method of escape. For others, it is drugs, sex, anger, violence or even total silence and denial. The truth is every successful person has one story or the other to tell of not so rosy times past. We need to learn to remember to trust God and wait for his perfect timing. “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” Isaiah 40:31.

We also need to be more aware of those around us-our siblings, parents, children and friends. Learn to check on them and see how they are really doing. The strong ones might actually be those who complain to you everyday. The ones you should really pay attention to are the silent ones who smile and act like all is well. They might be dying inside or worst still, high, like I used to be.

All in all, I thank God for my life and my friends. A word of advice: Even as you prayerfully wait on God, don’t just sit and fold your arms. For those who are serving, in Med school, Law school etc, start applying now! Even if you are sure of being retained where you are or are sure of one job dad’s friend promised you, still just start applying when you are not desperate and there is no pressure on you. Most application processes these days in good companies span between 3 months to 6 months so you better get on it! Learn a craft or a trade. Do something!

Don’t be tempted into escapism when things are looking down. When you get back on earth, your issues and problems will be there, waiting patiently for you with legs crossed. Instead, speak to someone you can trust and who is sure to give you sound advice and lead you to God in prayer.

Finally, enjoy each phase of your life. A friend once told the story of how he had to latch on to the back of a moving bus in order to get home each day. Now, he drives around town in his brand new car. You think you have it bad? People have worse tales to share. So keep the faith and know that all is gonna be just fine!

***

Are you sure you’re applying hard enough?

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2012 is here and aside of a minor glitch that threatened to steal my joy sometime towards the end of 2011, I am as happy and as grateful and it gets. No no no. I’m not saying everything is rosey and dandy. But through the thorns of life, I still smell the roses. I’m looking to God for a lot of things this year and I will go ahead and share with you the Number 1 on my mind: my career.

I have always been the type who prides herself on being at least a couple of steps ahead of her peers. I got that from my dad. Back in Corona, if I came 2nd, instead of being excited for me that I beat so many others, my dad’s focus would be on that one person I failed to beat.

I took this spirit with me all the way to University. Anyone who knows how Law works would know that getting 68% in a module is something to be happy about. But never I. Once I found out that some people on the course achieved 70 and above, I’d feel as though I did not try hard enough. Through the help of the Holy Spirit, I have been able to lead a pretty content life that simply channeled my nature into a quest for excellence and not outright ‘Get it or Die There’ behaviour.

Now, I am in that phase where I have been handheld by my parents for as long as they owe me and even longer and it’s about time I got that dream job and started towing that career path I worked my butt off at Uni for. I dreaded returning to Nigeria, not mainly because of security issues, lack of constant electricity or bad roads but because of employment matters. I HATE being idle and I HATE doing what I should not be doing. So now that NYSC is practically over for me, the question now arises, ‘What Next?’.

Everyone has a piece of advice to throw at me:

‘Go to Law School, Go back to Jand and use your work permit, Go for your PhD, Get an MBA, Focus on your writing, therein lies your breakthrough, Manage any job o, jobs are hard to come by in Nigeria.’ Decisions decisions.

These are pretty much tough decisions to make and I don’t want life to decide for me. I don’t want to go to Law School simply because I don’t have a dream job. I don’t want to start work simply because it’s not yet time for Law School. I don’t want to start an MBA simply because I gained admission into a prestigious school and I might not have the opportunity to defer it. I want to lead and live a PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. I don’t want to do stuff just because. No! I want to do stuff because it is RIGHT and God says so. I want to live on purpose not by chance or because the opportunity springs forth.

Even in my search for a job, I want to be able to be offered something and turn it down because it does not fit into the overall picture of my life. I don’t want to just take any job in a remote part of Nigeria because the pay is good and it is better than staying home with mommy and daddy and being turned into Sikiratu Number 2 or mom’s standby driver (lol, my folks won’t do that, or would they?, lol!).

People say wait on God, pray, fast, read your Bible and trust in God. This sometimes can be a painful pill to swallow but believe me, it is the only way forward. It is the only thing that will keep you smiling and able to keep your head up high even as you believe in God to bring you to your Land of Promise.

I had a convo with my beloved brother yesterday and I really felt like strangling him lol and that is part of what has inspired this post. This is how it went: No sooner had I said something about being excited that NYSC would be over soon on my BBM and put this picture than my big bro pounced on me:

Big Brother N: How far with job?

Moi: I’m searching and applying.

Big Brother N: Do you have any concrete one that you’ll be starting after you finish

Well, I have some in the works but I wont say concrete concrete like that

Big Brother N: Temi, I dont think you’re applying enough or trying hard. You can’t sit at home o, you’ll be frustrated.

Moi:Ok

BBN: What of the people mom said you should contact

Moi: Nothing came out of it, I did

BBN:Hmm

Moi:Whats ‘hmm’?

BBN:I’m just saying sha. But they’ll retain you where you are now

Moi:Err no

BBN:Why not?

Moi:Its an MNC and they tend to work with quota, head count ish. And there’s no space now.

BBN:Are you sure?

*at this time, I was livid but trying to control myself*

Moi:Yes dude, I am sure

BBN:Ok o, try harder sha

Moi:Ok

***

A friend of mine was saying how people have been asking her why she’s not yet married? LOL! At least, I’m being spared that. Thank God for every blessing. She says next time she’s asked she’ll promptly respond that she’ll meet herself, toast herself, court herself, propose to herself and marry herself. Lol!

Anyways, I feel much better after letting this out.

I know God is in charge of my affairs and He will sort me out as He will you.

It is well!

On a random note: I want to see how long I can go with my hair, no weaves, no braids just my relaxed hair. This is Week 1. Erm, the first picture above, I’ve lost small weight abi? 😀

Temiville.xoxo