Alston & Bird: A Career Conversation with Trevor Barker

What motivated you to join Alston & Bird?
I knew I wanted to work for a company that valued a strong culture paired with opportunities for growth. When I came across Alston & Bird in my job search, the accolades and acknowledgements encouraged me to conduct further research and later apply. My interviews were relaxed, more like in-depth conversations, which made it easier to get a true sense of the culture, the team, and what the role responsibilities were. My main source of motivation to join Alston & Bird was the people. Those that I interviewed with were kind, patient, and human (sounds crazy right?) – and those are the types of people that I wanted to surround myself with in the workplace. Now, over a year later, it is still the people that makes Alston & Bird such a great place to work.  

How does Alston & Bird convey to employees a sense of belonging?
As a gay man, I have found it hard to find a workplace that I can be my authentic self. Within 2 weeks of being with Alston & Bird, I felt more myself in the workforce than I ever have – which says a lot as I started fully remote for over 3 months. We have a strong DE&I program at Alston & Bird that both encourages healthy dialogue as well as fosters a safe place to have those, sometimes, difficult conversations. Alston & Bird also invites presenters to come speak to our firm to expand our knowledge about heritages, cultures, as well as discussing interpersonal relationships. We are a proud company that has been acknowledged by the Human Rights Campaign, is Mansfield Certified, and has been recognized by Fortune Magazines ‘100 Best Places to Work For’ for 23 years in a row. Belonging and Alston & Bird go together effortlessly like peanut butter and jelly.  

In what ways has Alston & Bird supported your professional development and growth?
As a young professional starting my career, I find myself looking to my leadership and mentors for advice, experiential knowledge, and guidance as I navigate these early years in my career. My leadership asks me on a quarterly basis, more often than that honestly, about my professional goals and aspirations. We formulate a plan to reach those goals and spend time focusing on them throughout the year. Alston & Bird also encourages its employees get involved with professional organizations and to attend conferences that expand on our fundamental knowledge all while networking with professionals across the world.  

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance?
I have fostered a strong relationship with my manager who consistently checks in on my mental health, workload, and says ‘so when is your next trip/vacation’. When starting a new role, you are consistently learning your team and leadership, role responsibilities and expectations, as well as what your personal limits and boundaries are. Alston & Bird has been wonderful in encouraging its employees to take time off to unwind and recharge so when they are back to work, they are their best selves. Now that Alston & Bird operates in a hybrid working model, work-life balance is elevated in the idea of flexibility. When I think of work-life balance, I think when I’m at work, I do not think about home and when I’m home, I do not think about work. Alston & Bird does a great job of being sure those lines are not blurred. 

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do?
A perk of my role is that I get to work across all professional staff departments. As the Talent Acquisition Coordinator, I recruit, interview, and onboard candidates for various roles across different departments and sometimes different offices at Alston & Bird. The obvious positive impact is that I extend offers to applicants to come work at my amazing firm. I make a difference in two ways. One, I know that I am about to introduce someone to a firm that already values them as both a person and professional. Two, I know that I am going to lessen stress and workloads by filling my hiring manager’s job requisition. My favorite email to send has ‘HIRED’ in all caps in the subject line as I know that this brings joy and ease to my hiring managers as well as indicates a successful hire. 

What makes you proud to represent Alston & Bird?
What I love about working at Alston & Bird, is that I am surrounded by professionals who care about the work they do and care about the impact their position has on the firm’s wellbeing. I am proud to represent a firm that places emphasis on company culture. When I joined Alston & Bird, I was not aware of the reputation that Alston & Bird had until a couple of my managers allowed me to join a professional organization’s expo at the Georgia Aquarium. I was fresh on the job and had little to no knowledge of law firms. As we were walking around meeting other legal professionals and vendors, I was amazed at the people who congratulated me on my position with Alston & Bird – and truly meant it. After a little over a year of being here, I am proud to represent a law firm that leads in innovation, places emphasis on DE&I, and goes above and beyond for their employees. It truly is the best place to work, and I am honored to represent them.  

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Alston & Bird?
Alston & Bird has done more for me in the year and some odd months that I have been here, then they’ll ever know. I started at the firm at the age of 24 with very little experience in my career field. Since I started, I am consistently challenged in my role, I am exposed to opportunities that I only dreamt of, and I am surrounded by colleagues and leaders who acknowledge and appreciate me and the work that I do. I also had to be patient with myself as I was learning personalities, department subcultures, and processes that we use in recruiting. I took in a lot of feedback – both good and bad – made mistakes, leaned on my leadership for advice and insight. In sum, Alston & Bird has grown my self-confidence both in and outside of the workplace. I am confident in picking up the phone to talk to my hiring managers/candidates/vendors/agencies, I am confident in my ability to express my opinions and thoughts, and I am confident in my role – and that is an empowering feeling. 

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student?
I wish I knew the importance of collaborating and communicating in the professional world. Being able to communicate solutions, explanations, or general information effectively and efficiently is one of, if not, the most important and valued skill in the work world. Practice. Practice. Practice.  

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities?
Be ready for that ‘moving in a different direction’ email, be ready to make mistake after mistake, be ready to be patient. Odds are, you will not get your first, second, or even third choice job (or if you are me fifteenth). I am a firm believer that opportunities present themselves at the right moment. In all honesty, I laughed at myself after I submitted my application to Alston & Bird. Why would such a well-known company want to hire someone like me with only 1.5 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree? Fast forward a month later and I was logging in for my orientation. I say this to say, wake up everyday with the ‘I’m going to get that job’ mentality. Over time it will become harder and harder to tell yourself this, but with tenacity there is success.  

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