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Career Advisor

Your Current Job Search Is Just One Small Part of a Life-Long Process

Published in the October 4, 2012, Advisor

For many law students, the search for summer employment is the first step in a lifelong professional development process. This is exciting, but it can also feel overwhelming. Consider these suggestions as you embark on this journey.

Make time. If you start now, you can take your time and conduct a thoughtful job search rather than rushing to submit applications during summer break or after graduation. Start early and allot time each week to read about practice areas that interest you. Think about your strengths. Find a mentor. Use classes, clinics, and externships to gain exposure and experience. And visit the Career Center to browse in the library or speak with a counselor.

Strategize. Work to develop a personalized strategy. Decide whether you want to pursue traditional legal jobs or non-legal jobs and choose a few places you’d like to live. Then set out to meet professionals engaged in that kind of work in those areas. Give yourself specific assignments and deadlines, and hold yourself accountable for meeting your goals.

Be flexible. You do not have to stick to your plan if you discover a new interest or change your mind. No one expects you to develop a definitive long-term goal while you are in law school. Changing direction does not mean you’ve wasted your time; the research and effort you invested in your professional development will pay dividends even if you switch gears.

Be thoughtful and focused. While being flexible is important, scattering your energy is counterproductive; opening yourself to do “any kind of job” or “go anywhere” makes a strategic job search impossible. Applying for many types of jobs in many markets is overwhelming, and you can’t persuade an employer that you are a strong candidate for a job unless you’ve dedicated serious thought to how your interests and qualifications match the employer’s needs.

Get organized. Use an electronic or physical folder to collect your research. Complete a Career Planning worksheet, available under “Career Center” on MyLaw. Track your networking efforts; use your calendar to remind you to follow-up with your new contacts. Put upcoming workshops and conferences on your calendar as well. Make sure you have an updated resume, and a polished cover letter that you tailor to each employer, a current unofficial transcript, a list of professional references, and a writing sample ready at all times.


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