Not many people would argue with me if I stated that the Socratic cold call method is perhaps the most difficult aspect of one’s law school experience. I mean that’s objectively a tough experience to get through, and one that’s likely etched into our memory forever. However, today I want to propose an experience that stands neck to neck or possibly outshines the fear we experience in those moments of public discourse. An experience that we forget years later as we button our power suits before heading into court or lean into our rollerball chairs in our cushy office suites. It’s the experience of our stomach tying into knots the moment your law school classmate exclaims in distress how many job interviews they have lined up that week, the moment your study group partner confides in you about their multiple job offers and how they can’t possibly make a decision.
It’s the moment you realize that you only have a few months or weeks remaining as a 2L, you have no job offer in sight and you fear that you will miss out on the opportunity to secure a post graduate job during your 2L summer. It’s a moment that’s difficult to get through, as you fear that your classmate may see the shame you feel for not locking in an opportunity during the fall semester and for not having a prospective opportunity on the horizon. I know that moment personally, as I felt it time and time again during my 2L spring semester. However, I’m thankful that it’s a moment that I haven’t given much thought until sitting to write this post, as that moment failed to define my 2L summer or my postgraduate job experience, and, if you put a plan in place, it will not define yours.
So what kind of plan am I referring to? Well for starters, one to restart your job search with the same vigor you had just a year ago during your 1L spring semester, when it felt like the world was your oyster. Although the opportunities were limited, you still had an initial faith in the process. I recommend putting in place a plan that: 1) gets your mind right, 2) is different or an amplification of what you were doing before and 3) will have you looking at alternatives rather than the ideal. And, it also may be time to ask for outside help.
1. Restart Your Search with a Plan that Gets Your Mind Right
If you’ve placed a pause on your 2L job search, it’s quite likely that you are simply not in the frame of mind to jump back in. I get it. It’s not easy to feel motivated after your fall semester search proved to be unsuccessful. It’s important to acknowledge the emotions you may experience after this, but don’t dwell on them for too long and lose sight of your goal. Try not to let your motivation be defined by past experiences and instead reset them to focus on your ultimate goal – to get a job.
Spend some time reminding yourself how amazing you are! A few rejections by no means defines your greatness and the mere fact that you have made it to this point is proof that you will succeed and get hired. Regardless of whether you’re reading this post at the start of your spring semester or even at the start of the summer, you are still more than capable of getting a position. I actually did not obtain my 2L job until the second half of the spring semester and don’t get me started on my 1L summer. Although I secured an unpaid internship at the start of the summer, I did not receive a paid position until the end of June. So moral of the story? There’s still time, but don’t waste it on doubt.
2. Restart Your Search with a Plan that Differs from your Prior Plan or Amplifies It
As you restart your job search, it may be helpful to complete a self-assessment of your prior search. Did you already have a plan in place? Did you have no plan at all? If you did have one, what were the most helpful factors? Although you may not have secured a position, what factors led you to the most interviews? What were the least helpful factors?
After completing this assessment, I would recommend removing the factors that did not set you ahead and amplifying all the factors that were helpful. If your negative factor was not having a plan at all, it may be time to get one. If it was not applying to enough positions or not building your network, it may mean ramping up your application submittals and increasing your network. Alternatively, if you were already doing all these things and more, then you’re doing great! The fact that you didn’t lock something in may not necessarily have a bearing on how things have panned out. Your perfect opportunity may have just not shown up. But it will.
3. Restart Your Search with Your Alternative Options as Solid Options
I encourage everyone to have an ideal job in mind and to do everything in their might to achieve it. However, on your journey to obtaining this goal, don’t lose sight of alternative opportunities that interest you. If you stay married to one specific track, this may limit your chances of getting a position. Remember that you are on a journey of self-exploration and development. Now is the time to try everything out before you get locked into something permanent. So, if you’ve been set on a public sector track, that’s awesome! But don’t overlook a prospective opportunity from a private law firm that may help you to develop a practice area that could better serve you for public sector work in the future. I’m not saying that you need to say yes to everything. But say yes to more. Just give it a try!
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