Well, look at that.
Somehow I made it out of the hole, yet I still find myself completely overwhelmed and without any time to post substantively. Maybe that’s because I’ve been neglecting my reading for my other classes; maybe it’s because I had a make-up class today, and so had to do extra reading. Maybe it’s because I had an interview this morning to prepare for–and to, apparently, dream about.
Yeah, let me tell you about that dream.
Sometime in the early morning hours, I started to have a waking dream. You know, one of those that seems so real, when you wake up, you don’t quite know what’s happened, because you thought you were already awake? Yeah, one of those. And what I dreamed was that I had overslept. Really, not the end of the world, since I had class before my interview, and skipping that class would not have been the end of the world.
Except that in my dream, I WAY overslept. And I had something like 40 minutes to shower, do my hair, dress, and get to school for my interview. And things kept going wrong. Like, my shower took twice as long as it normally does. And my suit jacket somehow didn’t fit. Also, the tags were still on my suit jacket, and for some reason, I couldn’t get them off. Maybe I don’t own any scissors in my dream world. Nothing was going right, and I was beginning to panic, and that made everything worse. Maybe this isn’t such a weird dream after all.
At any rate, the alarm went off right as I (in my dream) was running, full speed, for the train. I woke to find that I was still in bed, it was before 7 am, and I had all the time in the world. So I snoozed.
In other words, I’m out of the hole, but apparently no one told my subconscious.
Oh — one final thing. If I’m sending a writing sample to a potential employer, should I do anything special to it? Like, put a cover sheet on it? It’s a full memo, so I figured I didn’t need to preface it with a lot of information about the legal issues. Right now, I just have my name and phone number at the top of each page and no cover sheet. Is that sufficient?
Lemme throw out another mystifier.
There’s this firm, let’s call them Pretty, Big & Fancy, My career services advisor recommended I send a resume to them, because they seem to have practice areas I’m interested in. (They were also interviewing on campus, as part of Winter OCI, but I didn’t get an interview with them.)
Yesterday, I got a letter from them–a rejection letter, naturally–in response to my resume, which stated that they had had so much success with their 2L recruiting that they weren’t hiring any 1Ls.
Excuse me, what? They’re not hiring 1Ls, but they interviewed three of my friends (and at least 10 other people) here on my campus last week? So either the person writing the letter fibbed because it seemed nicer or that person didn’t know they were interviewing 1Ls on campus. Either way, not a good sign.
I ordered an offiical copy of my transcript this week, because I need it for the job search stuff. (I also had to send an official transcript to a law firm that requested it, which is sort of bogus. Seriously, is an unofficial copy not acceptable? Would I fake something like that?)
At any rate, I opened my copy of my official transcript, just to look at it. I’d been told to make sure I copied BOTH sides of it, too, before I sent to anyone, so I flipped it over and read the grading system information printed there.
And that’s when I saw it.
“To graduate, a students [sic] average must fall between . . . “
Yes, folks, that’s right. My official transcript, from my law school, includes that worst of grammatical offenses: a possessive mistake. The possessive mistake can either be the inclusion of an apostrophe where the intention was to create a plural instead of a possessive, or, as in this case, the absence of an apostrophe where the intention was to create a possessive rather than a plural.
Gah. And I have to send copies of this to law firms–and to judges (I’m shooting for an externship for next school year). I’m contemplating emailing the registrar, just to tell him about it. Mr. Angst says that’s seriously nerdy. What do you think?
Today, as I stood in line to pay for my $1 pasta salad (easily the best bargain at the law school cafe), I ran into my legal writing prof. Who, by the way, I think is great. Really, really great. Anyway, last semester, she and I had talked about some research she’s doing and how she would probably need a research assistant for the summer. When she told me about her research, it just sounded really interesting–right up my alley, even. She told me if I was interested in working for her, to let her know.
So today, she asked how my job search was going. And I talked about some of the frustration and feeling like I was caught up in what everyone else was doing–my friends are all walking around in suits, comparing notes on their interviews, and I’ve been feeling like I’m . . . off-track, or out of the loop, or just doing something wrong in waiting to start looking for a job. She nodded in understanding and reminded me that I have a standing offer to work with her. She mentioned a presentation she’d done on the project and her face lit up. I remembered why the offer seemed so appealing when we first talked about it last year. The chance to work for someone who is excited about what she’s doing is priceless.
I feel better about things now. I know the law firm thing may not pan out, and I’m OK with that. Sure, it would be nice to make some cash this summer. But it would also be nice to spend a summer researching–and researching something I’m actually interested in. My research skills are the thing I need to exercise the most, too, and this would be an excellent chance to do that.
So, a perspective shift. It’s contagious!
Letters/Resumés/Transcripts sent: 41
Number of days since first letters sent: 7
Rejection Letters: 5*
Rejection Phone Calls: 1*
Rejection Emails: 1
Requests for Official Transcript: 1 (Note that this had to be ordered, paid for, and will have to be sent from the registrar’s office. Pain.)
The last item on my tally is at least optimistic, as it suggests that if my transcript is to their liking, I could at least get an interview out of it. Also, I sent some stuff today to firms I know are still considering 1Ls for summer jobs (because they are the firms interviewing 1Ls during winter OCI. Not me, of course. Did I mention that my winter OCI interview got cancelled?). I also had a nice long talk with a friend of mine who has sent out something like five times as many resumes as I have–she’s gotten several interviews, but no offers yet. She and I commiserated. And she encouraged me not to get too down, since she knows that firms are still interviewing and considering applicants and haven’t made decisions yet. And I wished her luck on the interview she was headed to.
All in all, today was OK. I felt a little meh this afternoon, and I’m not sure why. But I feel better now.
*These could be deceptive; I got a call AND a letter from the firm I interviewed with.
I was up late last night working on a complex, multi-application, multi-attachment email merge for my summer job search. I was completely useless this morning–and, remember, today was my anniversary!–so I went back to bed and got some rest. I did get all of my Thursday reading done later in the day, though.
Mr. Angst and I celebrated today by grabbing dinner at a landmark restaurant that’s closing in a few weeks. (We’re actually having a fancier anniversary dinner this weekend, but today’s early dinner was perfect for celebrating two years of marriage.) I made a dessert when we got home, and we had some wine.
Oh, and I got two rejection letters! Admittedly, one was from my Friday interview, and I’d already spoken with them about how I wasn’t getting an offer. But the other was just bonus!
You know what makes the rejection letters no big deal, though? The dessert I made: individual chocolate soufflés with créme anglaise. And a bright Reisling. And Scrubs. Two rejection letters are really no big deal–after all, I’ve got dozens of other irons in the fire. (Note that I am not exactly optimistic about any of those irons actually doing anything. But they’re still out there.)
All that deep thought about big firms vs. small firms, about what kind of options each would give me, turns out to have been wasted. No, I didn’t put all my eggs in the two baskets I was looking at (last Friday’s interview and the OCI interview) but I was very excited about them, very excited about getting to shine.
Well, Friday’s firm called me today to tell me that they really liked me (they really, really liked me!) but that they had only a few slots for 1Ls and, therefore, could not extend me an offer. OK. Not a great big shock–though certainly not a fun thing to hear.
But wait! It gets better. This afternoon I received an email, stating that my OCI firm was cancelling all of its interviews with 1Ls because they were recently acquired by another firm (another firm which, presumably, has already hired its summer 2006 class).
So now I’m back to square one. Sure, I’ve sent out some resumes and cover letters to other firms, but mostly out of fear of being behind the game. I sent stuff to firms that might not be of interest to me, simply to get off my ass with the whole job search thing. And that was probably not such a bad idea. But I am still back at square one, now, with no upcoming interviews–and no job offers.
I’m disappointed. Sure, undoubtedly, I’ll look back on this moment some time in the future and realize how silly it was for me to dwell on my disappointment. I’m pretty sure I’ll get a job of some kind. But right now, I feel kind of sad. All that energy I was putting into researching my OCI firm was wasted. The firms I’ve sent stuff to aren’t necessarily firms I want to work for. I have no idea what I want to do this summer. Angst! Angst! Angst!
So I’m picking my ego up, dusting it off, and reminding myself that two rejections in one day (essentially) doesn’t reflect on ME, personally.
My interview went well . . . I think. I mean, there were no awkward pauses and I didn’t make any obvious gaffes. I had some good (if probably standard) questions to ask them, and gave them interesting answers to their questions. In general, pretty standard interview stuff, I think. I don’t know. I’ve never had an interview that I thought was clearly a bust (or at least not a first interview. I did have a follow-up interview that was dreadful once, but I think I was out of the running at that point).
So we’ll see. This firm would offer me all kinds of options for the summer, and there are huge benefits to that. The people seemed very nice, the facilities are stellar, of course, and from what I’ve heard from other students, it’s a great place to summer. Now it’s just waiting to see what happens next.
(Ed’s note: this post has been edited since I posted it. I realized it didn’t quite say what I wanted it to. So apologies for changing a post around, but I thought, in this case particularly, that accuracy was really important.)
I didn’t come to law school for the money or the prestige or the power. I came to law school because I like to write and the kind of writing lawyers do seemed to suit me.
I’m not especially seduced by big firm salaries; I’m not set on making six figures my first year out of law school. As long as I make enough to pay down my loans (the quicker the better, of course) and am doing work I find at least somewhat intellectually stimulating, I’ll be happy. Sure, my plan all along has been to work for a firm after graduation, if for no other reason than training. And then, when I have some experience, try to teach legal writing and get published. But I’ve always thought I’d want to work at a small boutique firm rather than a multinational one.
For my 1L summer, I had intended to focus on working for a judge or as a research assistant. My thought was that I could work for a firm next summer and that I should take the opportunity this summer to do something else. But then time slipped away from me and I hadn’t sent letters or resumes to judges and people around me were getting interviews and I was starting to get VERY nervous. So I threw my lot in for winter OCI and waited to see what would happen. And I figured I might as well apply for some firm jobs outside of OCI — my grades would make me at least competitive, if not a lock, for a job as a 1L and the prospect of being paid (and not having to take out more loans) was attractive.
Yesterday, on the advice of a friend who had recently heard from a particular firm, I sent a resume and cover letter to them via email. Six hours later, they called me for an interview. The interview is tomorrow.
And that got me thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled! But I’m also a little freaked out. In comparison, my OCI interview didn’t give me any twinges because I had looked into their work before I bid on them. They’re small, they do work that interests me, and they’re well-regarded. No problems there. But my interview tomorrow is at a bona fide BIG firm — they do everything — and I don’t know very much about them. Yes, there are good sides to their broad practice areas (and bad sides to the large number of attorneys they employ) but somehow, part of me feels like I’m selling out by even considering them. (Is selling out even the right phrase? I’m not sure.) Of ocurse they have practice areas that interest me — even a group that does the same kind of work as my OCI firm. But it’s BigLaw! I wasn’t going to do that this year! I was going to do something . . . different! Something that wouldn’t be exactly like what I’ll be doing next summer.
I don’t want to be one of those law students who comes in with goals and ambitions that are outside of the big firm model yet who gets seduced by not just the pay but also by the ease of working in such a firm. Applying to big firms, after all, is by far the easiest route to take. (It may not be the most fruitful, but it is indeed easy — no cold calling, no door-knocking. Just send your resume to a bunch of firms and chances are you’ll get at least a few interviews.) It also gets the most institutional support.
That is not to say that the big firm thing might not be exactly what I am best suited for. I just don’t know, and I thought I’d take this summer to try something I might not have a chance to try some other time. And yet I seem to be falling into the big firm thing. I wish I could say the reason is that I AM suited to a big firm, but I just don’t know. Obviously, I do not have an offer of summer employment yet. I may yet end up as a research assistant. But I still wonder what am I doing? as I consider the possibility that I’ll end up with an offer from a big firm.
I’m feeling better about my resume now. Mr. Angst helped me retool it some, so that my experience resonates more from a corporate perspective–even though I have never really worked in a corporate environment. I’m suddenly using words like “revenue” and “initiative.” Me! Revenue? Initiative? I guess I tend not to think of my employment in those terms, even if those terms apply. I’m still too touchy-feely, I guess.
I also finished revising my writing sample. So now all that’s left is . . . cover letters. Argh! I think I’ll draft some of those this afternoon. Maybe by tomorrow I can have some things to put in the mail!
I don’t like that the 1L job search seems crafted to make you doubt your self-worth. In all the job searches I’ve done in my time, I have never felt, at the resume-and-cover-letter-stage, that I was in the position of a beggar. But now I do–I’ll take any crumb at all as a sign that I am worthy to be paid this summer, that I am valuable enough to be hireable. And that’s ridiculous!
I also wonder if ANY law school career services office has the time and resources to do anything useful for people like me, who are career-changers and need, perhaps, a little more coaching in the legal job search. Mr. Angst, not a lawyer, was able to give me better advice in five minutes of looking at my resume than my career services advisor could. And that’s absurd! Who is the expert being paid to help me write a resume? NOT Mr. Angst.
So the job search process is frustrating. I think the best thing for me at this point would be to send out some stuff and see what results. And keep revising and redirecting my approach.