Winter breaks are crucial opportunities to get caught up on what you haven’t had time to do during the semester. But I don’t mean that you should keep going at full speed while you’re on break. The most important things to do during Winter Break are to let your mind recharge for the next semester and spend time with friends and family that you haven’t been paying enough attention to. If you find yourself needing a way to fill the rest of your time, I’d suggest the following:
1. Search for Summer Internships
If you’re a 1L, then you’re going to need to find a summer internship. You may have already started this before Winter Break. If so, congratulations! But if not, don’t worry. You’re not too late, but you’ll want to start over the break. After all, would you rather be looking for jobs once the semester starts back up, and you’re consumed by your courses?
2. Fine-Tune Your Resume(s), Cover Letter(s), and Writing Sample(s)
While you’re searching for jobs, you might as well work on your application materials. And if you’re a 2L who’s already found a summer internship by Winter Break, then you may want to perfect your materials to send to clerkships or future semester internships. So, what kind of application materials are we talking about?
Well, for starters, you should make sure you have a resume with your most recent employment information on it. Go to the career office and get a sample resume. Your school might have a particular resume format that they suggest you follow.
Particularly if you’re a 2L applying to clerkships, you’ll want to make sure that your writing sample is absolutely perfect. Remember, the reason that judges have law clerks is to help them write, research, and proofread opinions. If your writing sample isn’t well written, researched, or proofed, then you’re not presenting yourself in the best light to the judge. But even if you’re not applying to clerkships, you’ll need a good writing sample in the future. Why not spend the time during Winter Break? Trust me: a good writing sample takes more time than you think it will.
Finally, your cover letter is also an important part of a job application. Depending on what you want to do with your law degree, you may find yourself having to write multiple cover letters. There are two reasons that cover letters can take time. First, it can take time to learn the cover letter format, so that you can express yourself in it. Second, you may not know why you’re applying to a particular job or why you’re best suited for it. These problems can take time to tackle, and chances are you’ll probably need to struggle with at least one of them.
3. Focus on Yourself
Law school is great at churning out lawyers because it challenges students to forget their own beliefs and prejudices and become vehicles for others’ arguments. But one thing it doesn’t do is foster individualism. If you find yourself unsure about what you want to do with your law degree, then you should take Winter Break to focus on yourself for a change. Most importantly, think about what types of jobs that you’ve liked in the past and been good at. You should also think about what law courses have been your favorite. The first step in any job interview is to know yourself. The good news is that you don’t even need an impending interview to start working on this first part.
4. Spend Time with Relatives and Family Friends
You’re probably going to be seeing your relatives and family friends over Winter Break, right? Most people are in a better mood over the holidays when they’re less stressed out about their jobs, so why not take this opportunity to chat with them? You never know who or what someone might know. Some people will be practicing lawyers, be in industries that you’re interested in, or have really well connected friends. Often the person you least expect will have a great insight or connection. These types of conversations can also help you narrow down what it is you want to do with your law degree if you haven’t figured that out yet.
5. Write a Note
If you’re a 2L or 3L, you could work on your note. When else are you going to have a few weeks of almost uninterrupted time to devote to writing a 40+ page paper that has little to do with the courses you’re taking? Call me crazy, but this is exactly how I spent a week or so of my Winter Break during my 2L year.
And if you need more help on legal careers, check out Alison’s posts on the subject.
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