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Recruiting Wisdom

How to Plan Virtual Social, Learning & Development, and Networking Events for your Summer Program

13
min read

It’s the question that’s on everyone’s mind... How on earth are we going to take our summer programs virtual? After years creating engaging, valuable, in-person experiences for candidates and new hires, firm leaders are reimagining practically everything about the hiring experience. The summer program is no exception. 

Here at Flo Recruit, we dove headfirst into the world of virtual. Our team has been fully remote and finding ways to keep our team engaged since the beginning of March. Inspired by our own experiences and research, we’ve created the ultimate list of virtual events for everyone taking programs online. Book these exact events, or use them as inspiration to build your own!

Pro Tip: This list is organized by category, group size, and which parts of Flo Recruit you can use to create and manage the event. For large groups, be cognizant of the capability of your video conferencing software. If your video quality drops at a certain number of participants, control the capacity of the event by 1. Watching registrations and turning sign-up off if numbers exceed your desired limit or 2. Setting a limit on registrations in Flo Recruit. We recommend using Zoom for groups of 8+ if everyone will have video turned on.

Social Events

Large Groups - Use Flo Recruit Webinars

Authentic Cooking Class - Pasta with Nonna

Nonna Nerina is an 84 year old Italian grandma giving virtual pasta-making lessons! Participants receive a shopping list of ingredients and Amazon links to purchase tools (they promise it’s stuff most people already own), plus notes from Nonna or her family on how to prep. Then you simply live stream the Italians in from overseas and enjoy the class.

Nonna cooking pasta
Photo courtesy of Pasta with Nonna.

Wine Tasting with a Sommelier 

Hire a sommelier to lead your summers (and any jealous staff) through an at-home wine tasting over video! The Sommelier Company will select 3 bottles, ship them to all participants, and lead the event through Zoom or WebEx. We called and got all the details from multiple vendors for you…

The Sommelier Company wine tasting
Photo courtesy of The Sommelier Company.

Local Beer Tasting

It feels like every brewery is currently advertising shippable flights, so give your summer program a taste of your city’s beer. Research the breweries in your area to find virtual events, like the New York State Virtual Craft Beer Tasting Experience on May 2nd. They’re shipping two craft beers to the homes of all ticket holders and hosting scheduled Zoom sessions with the brewers and owners of each.

Museum or Wonder of the World Tour

Did you know you can take virtual tours of most major museums and travel locations? Take your group through The Met or to the Pyramids of Giza. Invite everyone to share travel experiences and favorite artists, or tailor the tour to your city to showcase the local culture. Hire a historian or museum staff to lead the tour and discussion. 

Concert, Opera or Ballet by NPR

NPR and other music news outlets are constantly updating lists of the live-stream virtual concerts that now crop up daily. All on April 24, for example, the Metropolitan Opera live streamed Verdi's La Traviata, the New York City Ballet streamed Rotunda, and Post Malone did a Nirvana tribute. Pick one (or put it to a vote!) for your summers to “attend,” and create an event so they can chat while they watch.

Yoga, Meditation Sessions

Invite participants to relax, unwind, and exercise with a yoga and meditation session. Many yoga instructors are offering virtual classes, and you can book them to lead private lessons. We suggest contacting a respected studio near you and asking which instructors are open to virtual, private classes for a wide variety of skill levels, including beginner. 

Alternatively, leverage your talent! Do you have a team member who loves yoga? Ask them to lead a session for your summer program. 

Tiny Campfires Experience by Teambuilding.com

Want something casual and cute? Teambuilding.com’s Tiny Campfires event brings the campfire experience to the virtual world. Listen to ghost stories and transport your associates to a wilderness getaway. They ship a candle, matches, and s’mores supplies to all participants!

Tiny campfire session from home
Photo courtesy of teambuilding.com

Tea vs. Coffee Experience by Teambuilding.com

Teambuilding.com organizes another unique option for groups. Their Tea vs. Coffee event focuses on mindfulness through sustainably sourced, exotic drinks and chocolate. They ship 4 teas or coffees and Fair Trade chocolate to all participants and then walk everyone through a meditation and tasting ceremony by video conference.

Self-hosted!

Let your summers show off their unique interests and get to know one another by creating an open sign-up sheet to lead an activity! You never know who has a passion for painting or a black belt in karate. It’s like show-and-tell for adults.

Small Groups, 1:1 - Use Flo Recruit Virtual Chats

Lunches

Lunchtime during an in-office summer program means learning, socializing and networking. Schedule small group lunches into your virtual program to keep people from feeling isolated during busy work days. Assemble 1:1 or 3-5 person groups based on alma mater, hometown, or specific work interest, and encourage your summers to self-organize, as well. Send DoorDash, Favor, or UberEats digital gift cards to treat!

Flo Recruit webinars

Happy Hours

Scheduled happy hours keep Fridays feeling like Fridays even in quarantine. Themes like “crazy cocktails,” “local brews,” or “who can build the prettiest charcuterie board at home” make nights unique and provide conversation starters. We suggest groups of 4-6 for lively, participatory conversations. Designate a DJ to play background music to ease stiffness and add an after-work feel.

Book & Film Clubs

Ask your attorneys and staff to volunteer to lead casual book or film discussions throughout the program that your summer associates can sign up to join. Rather than imposing a typically time-intensive commitment where everyone reads or watches something weekly or monthly, one-off book or film discussions can bring groups of busy people together for a non-work-related, but meaningful, conversation. 

Bring Your Pet to Work

Designate a meeting, lunch, or full day as “bring your pet” to break up the monotony of a virtual work day. Introducing furry friends provides an easy icebreaker and highlights a positive aspect of being at home! It also eases qualms about future barking in the background of meetings…

Kids of the Company

Designate a meeting, lunch, or full day as “kids of the company” to allow anyone in your program quarantining with little siblings, nieces, nephews, or kids of their own to introduce them, if they’d like to. Caring for children for while balancing work at home is no small feat, and sooner or later someone’s toddler may poke his or her head into a video conference. A designated day for introductions can make kiddos a positive, personal connection to your summers instead of a stressful subject. 

Learning & Development Events

Large Groups - Use Flo Recruit Webinars

Own It! Controlling Your Professional Brand by Fringe PD

You have to know who you are in order to build a successful career. This workshop helps summer associates and newer attorneys take control of their professional brands. Participants explore how branding fits into the critical skill of professional presence and how to navigate verbal and physical traps when presenting professionally. Summer associates engage in developing self and other awareness to make sure that they make the most of their time at the firm and leave everyone with a positive impression. Help your summer associates take ownership not only of their brand but also their career.

Defeating Digital Distractions by Jon Kropp

With many working long hours from home, technology feels more addictive than ever. According to Jon Kropp, this addictive trait is no accident, as today’s tech is “precision-engineered to grab and hold our attention.” Kropp teaches workshop attendees how to minimize the disruptive impact of their devices so they can enjoy their benefits while avoiding their pitfalls. The workshop draws on mindfulness, cognitive psychology, user experience design, and digital product philosophy. See all of his workshops here.

Well-Being Tools by Eva Wisnik

Give your summer associates the resources and specific tools they need to maintain mental health in this time, especially given added pressures at their new jobs! Eva has presented more than 675 training programs to law firms on a range of topics, but her programs on well-being and wellness have all attendees feeling good and spreading the word. Check out some of her most popular programs: Maintaining Your Well-Being During Challenging Times, Virtual Communication Skills, and A Stress-Resilience Workshop for Thriving While Working From Home.

Two people meditating
Photo courtesy of mindful.org.

Writing Workshops by Ed Lintz

With emails replacing many in-person work conversations, writing skills are more important than ever. An informative writing workshop at the beginning of the program allows your summers to focus on learning content instead of laboring over grammar and style choices. Ed Lintz is delivering his writing workshops virtually. Lintz customizes his writing advice to suit your audience, whether it’s a summer associate class; a first-year academy; a mix of transactional, regulatory, and litigation, or advocate-focused. Every session covers the essentials of style, clarity, and how to write with confidence. 

Transactional Workshop by Praktio

Praktio's live Transactional Workshop uses an engaging, realistic simulation to expose summer associates to transactional work and improve their transactional skills. 

Small Groups - Use Flo Recruit Virtual Chats

Navigating the New Workplace by Fringe PD

Fringe PD is providing many of its most popular summer associate workshops in a Virtual Live format. Navigating the New Workplace discusses shifting norms--more important than ever in this new world. Participants will explore the rapidly changing workplace and learn how to build relationships within it.

Blind Origami

In this creative team building activity, participants will learn the value of quality instructions and clear communication. Split the groups into two teams and give them two different sets of instructions to create an origami crane. The first group will have explicit, quality instructions, while the second group will have poorly written instructions; however, when beginning the exercise, they will believe they are on the same playing field. Participants will work to create the appropriate folds, and the first team that finishes all of their paper creations wins. At the end of the, all will be asked to turn on their cameras and show their attempts. The leader will explain the differences in the instructions and explain how quality writing and communication can make all the difference.

On Demand - Use Flo Recruit Webinars to Introduce the Trainings, then Allow Summers to Learn-as-They-Go

Communication Skills by Fringe PD

Fringe PD has built communication skills training resources specifically for summer associates. Through Fringe on Demand and Fringe Live, access learning modules including Building Professional Presence, Managing Up, Communicating Across Difference (DISC), and Effective Interpersonal Communications.

Fringe PD On Demand

Transactional Skills by Praktio

Praktio's self-paced courses on Contract Fundamentals, Precision Training, and Confidentiality Agreements equip summer associates to contribute meaningfully to transactional matters during the summer program (and thereafter).

Networking Events

Large Groups - Use Flo Recruit Webinars

Fireside Chats

Invite a prominent member of your firm to engage in conversation with a moderator about their career and background. Encourage questions to be asked throughout the fireside chat or ask for submissions in advance. It’s often useful for the moderator to have a list of prepared questions and then shift to audience-asked questions. In a big group, audience members are often afraid to ask the first question. To get the questions going, you might ask a member of your team to ask the first audience question. 

ProTip: Download a photo of a nice fire and use it as a background in your Video Chat Software for a touch of humor. 

Desk in front of a fireplace
Photo courtesy of Guest of a Guest.

Meet the Leadership 

Host a panel discussion in which a few members from your firm’s leadership team share their experience and the day-to-day of their roles. Give leadership an opportunity to share how they worked to their position and where they started, to inspire early career professionals. This experience helps newer members of your firm feel more comfortable with the people in charge.

A Day in the Life of a [Insert Practice Group] Attorney

Get more focused with your large-group networking by hosting topical events, like a webinar for each of the leading practice groups in your office. Giving these presentations a creative structure like “day in the life” keeps things energetic and prevents a long list of summer webinars from running together.

Recently Hired Associates Tell All -- How to Succeed as a Summer Associate

Host a panel discussion in which a few engaged, recently hired associates speak to a group of only summer associates in a private video chat room. This gives summer associates the opportunity to ask the tough or “stupid” questions they might not feel comfortable asking in front of a recruiter or senior attorney. 

Overview of Affinity Groups Presentations

Host a webinar to give affinity group leaders a chance to give overviews of each group, activities they do together, and how they contribute to the culture of the organization. This offers a way for the summer associates to get introduced to the firm’s affinity groups quickly so that they can engage more deeply later.

Small Groups, 1:1 - Use Flo Recruit Virtual Chats

Mentor Matching

If you already have a mentor program set up for your regular summer program, don’t hesitate to take it virtual! If you do not have one, consider matching attorneys to summers as designated mentors/mentees. With everyone remote, a bit more structure in the support system and networking for summers may be necessary to kickstart organic relationships.

Flo Recruit Virtual Chats feature

Affinity Group Chats

After you’ve hosted an overview presentation of all of the affinity groups available to your employees, offer an opportunity for the affinity groups to host small group chats to get to know prospective members better. Facilitating these types of connections can be especially helpful in the beginning of a person’s time at the firm so that they can find their support system quickly and feel comfortable in their new work environment.

Conclusion

Crafting a virtual summer program is a new challenge for almost all of us, but we’re confident that many will rise to the occasion by getting creative. Vendors across the nation have developed virtual programs, and with a little ingenuity and determination, you can create your own virtual programming completely from scratch.

At all of your events, communicate to attendees in an organized fashion so that everyone has the correct virtual login information and correct start times. Track attendance so that you can assess which programs drew the most participants and collect feedback on sessions to assess engagement. Try Flo Recruit for free to manage all of your events this summer--both virtual and in-person. 


Hannah Kelly

Hannah developed her events expertise managing music festivals in Austin, Texas, and today she puts it to work in the legal recruiting world as Flo Recruit's Growth Manager.

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