Jennifer L. Eaton
28, Attorney at Vandeventer Black LLP
In what ways does having younger employees add to a company’s success?
In addition to diversifying the workplace, younger employees can serve as a check and balance by offering new perspectives and insights. Younger employees also serve as champions of a company’s legacy.
What have been a few keys to your success so far?
My professional growth and development are a direct result of the guidance and support of incredible mentors. Having individuals within my profession and the community that are invested in my success has been instrumental in giving me the confidence and resources to embrace new challenges and take on additional responsibilities.
Is there anything that you would change about your generation as a whole? If so, what?
Embracing the ability to unplug from technology would be a welcome change to see within the millennial generation and society as a whole.
What do you look for in a job/company?
In selecting a firm, I sought a place with a sense of community and a culture that is flexible enough to improvise and adapt to the changing needs of its clients and its employees. Many law firms have a cookie-cutter approach to professional development, and what I value about Vandeventer Black is its willingness to let young attorneys take on challenges and rise to the occasion.
What kinds of digital platforms do you feel you have benefited from in your career?
Overall, the legal profession is a little behind the times with respect to embracing social media and other platforms. Legal websites and newsletters affiliated with various legal organizations, however, have served as an outlet for various publications that I have written over the years. Publication of scholarly articles assists with name recognition, can lead to referrals and make work more fun and interesting.
Tell us about some of your favorite ways to do worthwhile networking.
I have found networking to be the most worthwhile and enjoyable when getting to know individuals that are a part of the same professional and community organizations because of the opportunity to develop relationships over time. In these situations—and even situations with complete strangers—finding a common interest or shared experience breaks the awkward tension that often looms around social gatherings.
How are you contributing to life/community outside of the workplace?
Outside the workplace I strive to be an active member of society. I serve on the Philanthropy Committee for the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, and I enjoy having an active role in the local bar association. My favorite extracurricular involvement, however, is my service as a coach for Special Olympics. The weekly practices provide me with a sense of balance from a busy work schedule, and they offer perspective that reminds me of the important things in life like family, community, and giving back to others.
What advice would you offer to other millennials or recent graduates about getting their careers to take off?
Find people that will listen, support and guide you as you embark on your career. Recognize that there is always room for improvement, and look for individuals that will give you honest feedback so you can find ways to take steps toward further professional development. Set long-term and short-term goals for yourself, write them down, and evaluate your progress on a regular basis. Most importantly, find your balance. Find the activity or organization that brings you back to center and reminds you of your core values.