Fair warning that this week’s post is really focused on those looking for a job while they still are in the school (undergrad, law, business, etc.) bubble. The idea for this post came after realizing how many readers are from schools or trade programs, and having many get incredibly nervous about post-school job prospects.
I notice that one of the biggest reasons people are nervous about post- (law, business, etc.) school career prospects is that their perception is painted by horror stories of a flooded market, with a lack of jobs. What I find interesting though, is that perception leads to a paralysis in students. It’s as if the perception that there is a lack of jobs prevents them from using the resources at their disposal.
So you might ask, what are my resources? To that I say there are two exceptionally valuable resources available to you every day in law school:
1) Your Career Services Office
2) Your Peers
Career Services is one of the greatly maligned but least utilized resources a student has ready access to at any school he or she attends. I will often hear people bemoan that they are not getting interviews on campus, but they did not make the on campus interview application deadline. For many who do make the deadline, but do not get a call back, they blame the office, instead of going in for guidance and counseling on how they might make their resume shine, or how they might be included in the job bank. A student’s Career Services office is full of staff whose principal job is to get you hired. Regardless of your status in the class, or ranking, if you create a positive and constructive relationship with the people in the Career Services office, they will work harded for you to help you get a job, or pint you in the right direction.
That said, take the time to meet the office members and schedule meetings and get to know them on a personal level so that they are encouraged to go to bat for you. Networking with the staff is crucial to potential job placement.
You know what else you have easy access to every day you are in school? People! Building your own network of fellow students is an amazingly effective way to get hired. Getting to know classmates, whether below you in year, or above is not just an exercise in socialization, it is an exercise in networking. Many people go into networking with a negative perception, just like their perception of Career Services. They think, “How am I going to do it.” “I might not be good at it.” “Where do I begin?” This is where planning comes in. With any networking situation I insist on having a laid out plan of attack.
Whether it is meeting one new classmate a day, or making sure you meet the person studying in the carrel next to you, you never know who you will strike up a friendship with. When I did not get an on campus interview my second year of law school with a particular firm, I was disappointed. Funnily enough, however, three months later, the clerk they did hire, a classmate of mine, approached me to tell me they had need of a new clerk and he thought I would be a good fit. I was hired the next day.
In conclusion, remember that the only thing that is going to ensure you will not have success in your post law school career, is not taking advantage of the resources in front of you. And the value of those resources depends entirely on your perception.