third week

It’s hard to believe that I’ve only been working at NYPI for 3 weeks. I feel like I’ve been here forever!…In a good way.

Tomorrow, I start working in the Civil Court division at the Manhattan office! Lucky for me, the Manhattan office is two blocks from my apartment. From what I hear, civil mediation procedures are different from the criminal court procedures so I’m going to be learning a lot of new things. Also, the civil court mediation process requires me to make a lot more cold calls to clients about mediation, which I have skillfully avoided here at the Brooklyn office. I feel very awkward speaking on the phone with clients – my coworker is a theatre major and likes speaking to clients, so I just let her make all the calls. But my supervisor at the Manhattan office was a philosophy major in college! He told me he loves Kierkegaard, who I will be studying when I go abroad to Copenhagen next spring!

Last Thursday, I was asked to volunteer at the annual Annual Dispute Resolution conference. It was hosted at Cordoza Law School which is right next to NYU. At first, I was not that excited to volunteer but that all changed when I got there. I was supposed to hand out evaluation sheets for presenters at the end of their seminars, which meant that I was allowed to sit in on their lectures. The first one I sat in on was a lecture by a clinical psychologist about non-verbal and verbal communication. She stressed how important it was for a mediator to pick up on non-verbal cues (body language, posture, tone, etc) as the mediation starts. By recognizing signs of discomfort, aggression, submission and tension from the parties, the mediator can switch the energy in the room by paying attention to his/her own tone and body language to help the parties feel more comfortable and at east. The lecture was fascinating – now I can’t help but notice non-verbal communication in any room I walk into.

I ended up talking with the clinical psychologist after her lecture. She told me her new project is creating a practice that specializes in helping 18-25 year olds discover what their strengths and passions are and help them apply this knowledge to finding a job that will inspire and fulfill them. I thought it was an excellent project – if you think about it, there are so many of us youngsters who start a career that we think we like, later to find out that we hate it. There needs to be someone to assist young people find their passions. It isn’t as easy as it looks in the movie (this editorial comment coming from personal experience).

The second lecture I went to was “How to Succeed in Business WITH Really Trying.” She basically taught us how to network and get the work out about personal businesses or practices. A few things she stressed:

  • Reach out to those who are connected to a field you are passionate about.
  • Ask those people if they know anyone else you can talk to, or anyone else they would recommend talking to for more information.
  • Create a realistic goal deadline: EXAMPLE: “In 6 months, I will get 10 contacts in ______ field.”
  • At a cocktail/corporate party, go up to anyone, ask them how they are connected to the event and what they do. Try to find some connection to your business/practice/expertise.
  • EXCHANGE BUSINESS CARDS. Make sure you get the other person’s card too.
  • Make sure the person you are talking to remembers you. Offer them information that captures their attention.

In conclusion, I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to attend this conference. I was able to talk to some mediators I work with in Brooklyn and get to know them outside of a business setting. I was also able to learn more about the fascinating field of conflict-resolution! More on my experience at the Civil Court next week!