Question: I am currently on a six-month secondment to a bank and hating every minute of it even though I know it’s good for my career. How do I make the most of a bad situation? My supervisor has made it clear that he doesn’t care how I feel, and my partner at my firm is on sabbatical.
Answer: You’re right that a secondment is valuable for career progression. If you have recently started in this role you may need to allow time to adjust, so keep in mind what you are gaining from the opportunity, such as deal exposure, or greater insight into the banking sector.
A secondment is a prime opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of a new environment, so ask yourself if there are other areas within the bank’s legal department you can get exposure to. If your interaction with the business seems limited, ask if you can spend some time sitting with the front office.
Moving in-house is popular for many reasons, so don’t be put off. If you can identify what it is you dislike about the job, then you can use this to ensure any permanent move ticks the right boxes. However, not everyone is suited to life in-house. If it is the pace, the constant fielding of questions from the business and the front-line nature of the role you hate, then perhaps in-house is not for you.
Jane Davey is a senior manager at Badenoch & Clark
Answer: Stick it out. It’s only six months, and as you say, it’s good for your career. Use the time to try to see things from a client perspective. Note how the bank interacts with its outside advisers and try to pick up a few do’s and don’ts to take back to private practice with you.
Try to build relationships with some of your current colleagues which may lead to direct instructions in the future, which will be the bedrock of any advancement you might make in private practice. Above all, grit your teeth and don’t mark yourself out as a complainer – that never pays dividends.
Mark Brandon, recruitment consultant, First Counsel
Answer:You don’t mention why you are having such a bad time of it, but if your supervisor is the problem there is little you can do, apart from contact another client partner at your firm and talk it through. They might be able to effect a change in your working arrangements or bring the secondment gently to a close whilst saving face for both sides. (You might be called back to the office from your secondment on a particularly urgent deal, for example.)
If this is not an option, try to take the view that it is only six months. If you genuinely feel that your supervisor won’t help you, try to work through it. You will have gained valuable experience nonetheless.
Nicola Morris is an associate at Shilton Sharpe Quarry
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