Posted: September 15th, 2011
MYTH: All my friends have jobs already.
TRUTH: Very few students have summer jobs lined up this early in the year. Many 3Ls will tell you that at spring finals, they still did not have a job for the summer. The summer job search can be a long process for many reasons: smaller firms and businesses may not know their hiring needs yet; organizations may not be able to predict future demand for services; some nonprofits may be waiting for funding. The key is to be patient and methodical. Keep checking in with your contacts. Don’t give up!
MYTH: I want to work out of state but can’t get anything without connections.
TRUTH: There is a big difference between “connections” and “contacts.” Yes, it’s nice when a parent or family friend can put you directly into a job, but this is unusual. You are far more likely to succeed by making contacts in the legal community in which you want to work. Join the local bar association. Call local alumni and ask their advice. Attend a career fair in that state.
MYTH: I want to stay in NC but I’m not from here so no one will hire me.
TRUTH: You’re already in school in North Carolina—this means something! Employers want to see that you are committed to the state, so give them reason to believe this. Emphasize your involvement in the community, your knowledge of current local and state events, your interest in remaining here. You are not the first Wake Forest student who has come to NC and decided to stay.
MYTH: I didn’t get an offer through OCI so I’m out of options.
TRUTH: Only a small percentage of students get summer jobs through OCI, because only a small percentage of employers participate in OCI. There are numerous other avenues to pursue. This is where networking is key—contact firms and alumni who practice the type of law you are interested in. Consider seeking out judicial externships, government internships, volunteer work with nonprofit organizations. OCPD updates Symplicity regularly with job postings. Your OCPD career advisor can help you identify resources to find options in your area of interest.
MYTH: There are no advertised jobs that interest me.
TRUTH: Don’t limit yourself to posted job listings. Plenty of firms and organizations do not advertise positions. Networking is essential. Talk to lawyers, alumni, anyone you know. Let them know you are looking and what you’re interested in. Some firms have work to be done, and would be happy to have a competent student available. Your willingness to work is a foot in the door, and your quality of work may mean a future job.
MYTH: Networking is useless. People won’t respond if I just call them up out of the blue.
TRUTH: There is one universal truth in networking: people love to talk about themselves. Success is all in the approach. Be polite. Ask if this is a good time. Offer to take them out for lunch or coffee. Have a list in mind of what you want to learn from them. Show your appreciation with a written note. Follow up if you can—mention a CLE or recent article that relates to something you discussed.
MYTH: I’m just going to wait tables and enjoy one last summer of freedom.
TRUTH: Your 2L summer is an important opportunity to get valuable work experience. Not only are you building professional skills for your resume, but you also have an opportunity to “test the waters” in different practice areas, types of work, and even locations. Use this opportunity, it will benefit you in long-term career planning