Dr. Maya Angelou left us with the following words: “[P]eople will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Small gestures can have a tremendous impact. Collectively such experiences create a culture. Before I started as a summer associate at Bilzin Sumberg this month, a small yet validating gesture led me to submit an application for employment to the firm.
It was March 2020, days before the world shut down. My day had a rocky start with a “Breakfast with the Bench” event at 7:30 a.m., where a law student’s nightmare came true: I spilled coffee on my white shirt—the same shirt I needed to wear to my interview at another firm later that day between my second and third classes. #MiamiTraffic made the prospect of returning home to change my shirt a pipedream.
But, it wasn’t the Miami traffic that got me; it was the interview at the firm. I received a less-than-warm greeting from the receptionist before waiting thirty minutes for the interviewing attorney. While the interview went fine, upon my departure I was informed by the receptionist that parking wasn’t validated for interviews. So, I returned to campus and entered class late in my stained shirt, with $21 less in my pocket.
After class, a classmate reminded me that there was an OUTLaw event at another firm, Bilzin Sumberg, that evening. I was exhausted, but with a little convincing and negotiating (I needed to stop home to change the shirt or it was a no-go), I caved to the peer pressure. I’m glad I did. At the Bilzin Sumberg event, I met a number of my now colleagues, including Elise Holtzman Gerson and my summer mentor Carly Grimm. I also learned about Lavender Law from a partner at the firm who shared Bilzin Sumberg’s commitment to ensuring that all students who wanted to attend this conference and career fair had the financial support to do so. As the evening wrapped up and I walked towards the elevator with my classmate, I heard a voice from down the hall asking us to stop. Brian Adler, a partner at Bilzin Sumberg, sprinted towards us with, you guessed it, parking validation tickets. Mr. Adler thanked us for joining and shared his business card with us.
In the elevator, I looked at my classmate and said something along the lines of: “This is where I want to work.” It wasn’t just the parking validation, it was the fact that Elise and Carly took the time to introduce themselves. It was the intentional effort that was being made to ensure everyone felt welcomed. It was Bilzin Sumberg’s commitment to our community. But, above all else, it was the feeling of being validated, both personally and professionally. That evening, I went home and began researching the firm’s hiring process. Today, I am proud to be a part of the Bilzin Sumberg family.
Go, but only where you are validated.