5 Tips for Staying Healthy and Energized During OCI

Published: Jun 17, 2019

 Interviewing       Law       
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On-campus interviews are an exciting milestone toward your goal of joining the legal profession. You’ve studied hard, compiled an impressive resume, and identified the law firms where you see yourself beginning your career. As you prepare to embark on a flurry of interviews, it’s important to keep your energy level high and stay healthy to ensure your personality and accomplishments can shine through.

So how exactly do you do that?

1. Get enough sleep

This is key to maintaining high energy and engagement with every interviewer throughout each day. Know and aim to stick to your optimal sleep hours. This means no late-night cramming, as tempting as that might be. Appearing fresh in front of your dream employer is far more important than remembering every fact about a particular firm.

At the end of each day, take five minutes to let your mind wind down. Pop in your ear buds and play some soothing music. Or write down tidbits from your interactions—maybe some follow-up items or a few things you’re grateful for. Try to fully decompress from your interviews to give yourself a break.

If you find yourself up in the middle of the night and panic starts to set in that you won’t fall back asleep before your alarm, check out a guided meditation like those on Calm.com. If thoughts about interviews pop into your head (e.g., I forgot to say X, or the perfect question for me to ask would be Y), get up, write them down, and try to get back to sleep.

2. Make healthy nutritional choices

Digestion uses a lot of your body’s precious energy, which will be put to much better use skilling an interview than processing junk food. A good first step is to be clear on what “healthy eating” means to you.

Maybe it’s a calorie-level or a preference for certain food groups over others. Or maybe you ascribe to a particular diet or dietary lifestyle like Paleo or Veganism. Putting some thought into your eating approach will allow you to make deliberate and determined rather than impulsive choices. You want your focus to be on your interviews and not the critical voice in your head that can go off when prompted by guilt or shame.

When you are overwhelmed or feeling stressed in any way, you may not make the best nutritional choices—not eating enough, eating too much, or eating comfort foods. Before even selecting your food, check in with your overall state of being (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual), pause, and re-set if you’re feeling out of whack. Confirm that you are, in fact, hungry and in need of food. If you need something other than food to fulfill hunger, choose a more helpful tool or resource (e.g., exercise, a nap, a quick meditation, etc.).

To stay energized between interviews, choose a healthy snack over another serving of caffeine or sugar, which can cause you to feel jumpy and then potentially crash—not optimal for an interview. It’s a good idea to come prepared with non-perishable items such as raw almonds or packets of almond butter to slather on a banana, low sugar and minimally processed protein bars, and grass-fed beef jerky. And don’t forget to bring your BPA-free water bottle to stay hydrated on the go.

3. Meditate or practice breathwork

Practicing deep breathing or meditating are two powerful ways to stay on top of stress. Starting your day with a relaxed nervous system sets the tone for going slow and taking pauses as you navigate many experiences and decisions. Create a powerful pause with your breath, and you’ll equip yourself to make more conscious decisions by giving yourself the space to step back from your impulses. This also helps in interviews if you need a minute to collect your thoughts before answering a tough question.

“Break Escapes” are one such practice. Set three prompts a day for five minutes of deep breathing or meditating. A simple practice would be to bring your attention fully to your breath (with your eyes open or closed) and when you get to the top of your inhale, count “1” and when you get to the bottom of your exhale count “1” again. For the next breath, count “2” and continue this way until you get to “5” then count backwards. That should get you to a three- to five-minute practice. You can use the stopwatch on your phone. Even five minutes is better than no minutes of something good for you.

4. Surround yourself with positive energy

Good (and bad) moods are infectious. During OCI, hang around the students who are confident and have things in perspective. People who are nervous or stressed can have a negative impact on your own demeanor and attitude. This will be particularly important if you are not feeling fully confident. Lean on people who are feeling empowered to help lift your mood. Seeking solace from someone who is also stressed and lacking confidence will likely not prove helpful.

Also—and not that you would do this—avoid gossiping and firm-bashing between interviews. You may end up having a tough interview or not like your interviewer. It happens. Gossiping, complaining, and mud-slinging all come with more negative emotions that can bring your mood down and set off a stress response. Even worse, someone at the firm you are bashing may overhear you, and it can compromise your standing. Keep your mood as elevated as possible.

5. Keep up with exercise and other self-care

Summer associate interviews and callbacks can feel like a major disruption to your regular schedule, but that doesn’t mean you have to let all your good habits fall by the wayside. The benefits of exercise are key to staying healthy and energized during busy times, so it’s important to stick to your regular routine.

Exercise releases endorphins and other chemicals in your body and brain that can positively impact mood, improve sleep quality, and reduce muscle tension. Or, you may look to exercise to provide some much needed alone time to counterbalance all of the networking and information saturation. Solo exercise options include: taking a walking tour (a great way to see a new city); committing to taking the stairs over the elevator (every time!); or using an exercise app to get your sweat on in your room (E: Pocket Yoga and The 7 Minute Workout).

Here’s one final note to help you navigate the dinners and receptions that often come with callbacks: If you don’t set some guidelines for alcohol intake, you can easily drink more than you planned. That can kill your energy for the next day and potentially lead to less than optimal behavior during these events. Before you take that first sip, set a maximum number of cocktails (or go the mocktail route instead), have a glass of water between cocktails, or share your up-front limit with a buddy, and ask them to help you stay on track.

Staying healthy and energized during OCI can be challenging. With some minor planning, a distinct strategy, and a commitment to mindfulness, you can set yourself up for success while finding meaning in the hundreds of interactions you will have experienced during the process.

This is a sponsored blog post by Winston & Strawn LLP.