Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sense of Purpose

So, this week (in fact in 36 minutes) is the OCI (On Campus Interviews) application deadline. This means that some employers, (not many because it's Spring) are coming on campus to interview some (very few) 1L's for summer internships. People are losing their minds. Seriously. It's disheartening to see them all jumping through hoops and panicking. And I feel completely guilty because I decided to shun the whole process and do my own thing, and it paid off.

A while ago I went in to meet with the professional development office. They look over your resume and cover letters and give you advice about where to apply. I was disappointed in their suggestions for the types of jobs I was interested in. I do not want to work for a big firm. I do not want to do litigation. I do not want to work 60-100 hours a week. I want to spend time with my family. I do not want to make millionz of dollarz, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. I want to do public interest or government and I do not want to leave my daughter for 8 weeks to do an internship in D.C. You'd think that would be pretty limiting, but once I decided to find my own path I not only felt liberated, I felt empowered.

The problem with the employment offices in law school is they spend 99% of their time helping 1% of the class. They gear everything toward Big Law (and the firms that to my best guess have either donated money or something equally sexy to buy the school's devotion) and the reality is those firms only hire the very people who do not need help. If you're in the top 10%, you don't need someone out hunting down internships. The ones that come TO the school are looking for them, not people like me who are basically average on paper.

So, to that end, I started spamming lawyers who are members of an organization I belong to. It's a great group and they all practice in the area I'm most interested in. I wasn't interested in settling for something I didn't want, and I didn't want to feel limited by OCI (which the school admits will likely not interview me and even if they do most of them aren't going to hire anyone at all.)

I received a response within 12 hours, WITH an offer for the summer. The attorney liked my initiative. He had only ever been approached by a potential intern once before.

Seeing my poor classmates scrambling to get their OCI applications done and panicking about whether to use a colon or a semicolon on their cover letter hurts me. I want to shout to them "THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO GET A JOB!!!" but it will probably do no good. The thing is, the single authority on campus who helps you find jobs is just doing what they know how to do best, which is recruit for big firms. It's a numbers game and the reality is most of us won't fall into the range firms are looking for, and most are only taking 1-3 interns this year anyway. AND they're accepting applications from all over the country.

Why waste your time? Unless Dewey, Cheatem, and Howe is your dream job, go out on your own and find your own path. There are plenty of firms (so many that the market is flooded, I hate to say) and therefore plenty of places to apply that aren't the 8 showing up at OCI.

As for me, I went and met with my new boss. He just hired a seasoned former prosecutor from the AG's office, to whom I will be reporting. He hired this prosecutor to work on civil rights cases. I am so excited.

AND he asked me about returning next summer for a paid clerkship. I have no pressure now, I can just focus on school and ignoring PDO emails, while looking forward to the summer and the people I am going to help. Oh, and I just picked up a pro bono case which is my state's equivalent of a habeas corpus case. I am really excited for that as well. WHOO!

1 comment:

  1. AWESOME. I'm the same way. Average on paper, so I decided to ignore the OCI mania and try to get a job on my own. And I did. I emailed a potential employer with my resume and cover letter one night and was offered a job the very next day. Now I can sit back and relax while everyone else goes nuts! Silly law students. :)