Building Our Quaran-team: Caldwell’s Expansion During the Pandemic
By: Cady Gallagher
Here at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, we are ever-expanding. Since we began working remotely in mid-March, our team has grown significantly, adding several new team members. The hiring process, including onboarding, training, and integrating new employees during the COVID-19 pandemic has been uncharted territory. As things are beginning to reopen, we asked four of our new team members to discuss what this experience has been like for each of them. They reflected on a range of experiences, including job hunting in the pandemic, their struggles, and successes with working remotely, and what they are most looking forward to as we transition back to the office. We will also use this opportunity to introduce the newest members of our Caldwell team!
Ed Mantilla, Patent Agent
As our newest patent agent, Ed uses his background in chemistry and computer sciences to guide and support his clients and assist in their success. He works with inventors to write invention disclosures and patent applications, prompts patent harvesting within organizations, and responds to Office Actions from the USPTO.
Job hunting in general can be a stressful experience; adding the complexities of a pandemic, and it really can be a daunting experience. I was laid off effective March 31, and luckily, my first interview came on Friday, April 10 – indeed, it was a “Good Friday.” Many jobs do phone screens ahead of an in-person interview, but I have never done a video interview. My main concern was technology – would something go wrong with my WIFI during the interview. Luckily for me and the interviewer, nothing went wrong.
Once I accepted the position at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law, the next challenge was how to start my job and do it effectively remotely. Again, for me, the hardest part was to make sure everything worked. But to make things easier, everyone at Caldwell was extremely supportive. I received phone calls and emails from many in my new team asking me if I needed anything. They even offered to drive anything I needed home. This added a layer of comfort which make me realize that any technological challenge could be overcome by such great support. Everyone in the team went above and beyond what I expect it to make not only my first day, but my transition into that first day as smooth as it could be.
Working remotely has advantages; I am not going to lie, it was easy to get ready in the morning. But I like the opportunity to talk to people face-to-face (even if I must wear a mask). I learn so much by asking questions and getting pretty much an immediate response. I am looking forward to meeting everyone in person and getting to know them and having a cup of coffee with them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for everyone especially everyone that has lost their jobs and many who have had to shut down their businesses. I thank Keegan for this great opportunity, and the entire team for welcoming me with such open arms, and I look forward to a successful career here at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law.
Vincenzo DiMonaco, Technical Specialist
Enzo has joined our team as a mechanical engineering technical specialist, with a background in aerospace engineering. After obtaining his degree from Boston University, he worked at Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky Aircraft Company and supported the Black Hawk Family of helicopters. He has also completed GE’s CTEC course for baseline maintenance on turboshaft engines.
It was a difficult job search for me that started about a year before quarantine happened. I not only was trying to find a new job, but I also was seeking to move and pivot industry. I started out in aerospace engineering, and quickly realized that I needed a change. A lot of companies stopped holding interviews and went on hiring freezes altogether and I knew a lot of people were losing their jobs, so I thought my window for a new and exciting opportunity would be closed for the foreseeable future. I never thought that the opportunity I was looking for would come at a time such as these last few months, but I’m very grateful it did.
I was fortunate enough to hear back quickly from Caldwell and I took the first available in-person interview. Caldwell soon after sent me an offer and I accepted, knowing full well that I would be starting a new role in a new city all during lockdown. I moved on my own and got started quickly. I was nervous starting remotely because in such a fast-paced firm, the learning curve would be steep with little to no room for direct training. It’s all learn-on-the-job.
The team made me feel very welcome right from my in-person interview up through my start date and beyond. Coming from a very large company, I was not used to knowing or interacting with everyone, even those directly on my team. I felt very supported and knew I could always reach out for guidance when I would inevitably have questions.
When we get back into the office I’m most looking forward to meeting those I have only met over video conference and on the phone. I think I can learn even more from everyone who’s been so great to me when we are all in person working together.
Even though it was not how I imagined I would start this new challenge, I’m excited to be here and look forward to being around such great people doing great work.
Corey Moore, Technical Specialist
Corey has joined the team as a technical specialist in biotechnology, medical devices, and health information technology. He began working with us part-time as he was finishing his PhD in Biophysics and Biochemistry from Purdue University, and moved to Boston as a full-time employee upon completion. Corey’s experience with scientific research is an asset to the technical and commercial aspects of patent prosecution and portfolio management.
I do not feel job hunting during quarantine for me was more difficult than it would normally be. I began my job search about 3 months before quarantine and I had a wide professional network. I primarily used LinkedIn, intellectual property sites, and a local patent attorney I knew. I had job notifications ping to my email every week, and I set goals for applying to at least two positions each week in the months leading up to my defense date. By the time quarantine had begun I had several interviews. Interviewing, however, was the most challenging aspect during quarantine – travel is limited, masks are in short supply, people are working from home, and restaurants and bars are closed.
I would like to point out that for those specifically in the scientific community, the quarantine uniquely burdened networking opportunities. Conferences and seminars are the major outlets for graduating students in developing their professional networks. The quarantine brought those to a halt quickly; I had three conferences close on me within a few weeks’ time.
Many campuses nationwide had implemented remote teaching capabilities, but a cohesive strategy for remote lab meetings, remote data sharing and analysis, lab scheduling, and the like, was lacking. I began quarantine as a scientist, and in hindsight, optimizing the laboratory setting for remote working is a major area of improvement for service platforms.
However, when it comes to working in an office setting, I was impressed with Caldwell’s ability to adapt. They had already been using remote backed-up file sharing office-wide for all documents. An entire desktop setup was shipped to me within a week of starting, even including internet browser bookmarks and passwords saved. We are now roughly 3 months into remote work and productivity feels on par with what was observed before quarantine. Although, it is weird only ever meeting people through a computer screen and having little time to get conversations in. I have coworkers I have spoken with many times over computer and phone but have not yet met in person.
Morning meetings every day at the same time as a “check-in” really helps a newcomer feel supported and welcomed. A simple “always feel free to reach out with questions” via email or text is one thing, but regular, no-stress meetings to get the days started makes working remotely feel just a little bit more…normal.
Sending the workstation to my home for remote work was a huge support. I did not need to worry about downloading any remote work apps. I had ample time to test my feed prior to any meetings. These are the little things that a firm can do to make one feel more at ease with starting, given the circumstances. There was little pressure to move across the country right away, which was a big factor for me.
The thing I’m most looking forward to when getting back to the office is going out for lunch at those amazing places in downtown Boston and in the Seaport! Getting to grab drinks with my coworkers and attend meetings in-person is something I never expected I would have to refrain from doing for so long while holding down a new job.
Alexander Smith, Patent Paralegal
Alex has joined our team as a paralegal for the patent and trademark practices. He studied Law in Suffolk University’s undergraduate program. Prior to that, Alex served in the U.S. Army for over 13 years as a Logistical Specialist. In that time, he was deployed to several hotspots across the globe, including Iraq and Afghanistan. Alex credits this experience as building the discipline and perseverance necessary to transition into the legal field.
At first, I was nervous about starting a new job remotely since I was new into the field of Intellectual Property. I was paired up with Emily to teach me everything I needed to know about being a Patent Paralegal and she did an outstanding job showing me the ropes. Learning this position through hours of video chats was not as challenging though as I originally expected. The onboarding process was one of the best I have had in my career. The team was there any time I had a question and assisted me in getting use to how things were done. The thing I am most looking forward to is meeting the different team members in person.