No Offer? Now What?

Steps to Take When You Have Not Yet Received an Offer from Your Summer Employer

If you did not get a job offer from your summer employer, you are probably wondering, ‘what should I do next?’ Students who worked with an employer this past summer can find themselves in the uncomfortable position of returning to school without a job offer.

Among the various reasons why students do not receive an offer from an employer, three common reasons include: financial constraints from the employer, work performance issues, and not being a good “fit” with the company. Sometimes, students who don’t receive offers because they already decided that the employer wasn’t the right fit are happy to seek other employment. However, due to the fact that future employers are likely to inquire about whether an offer was received from a prior employer, a student must be prepared to deal with that issue.

1. Make an Appointment with a Career Counselor - Run, don’t walk to your career services office and discuss your situation in detail. After hearing about your summer experiences, your counselor can point you in the right direction and let you know what to do next.

2. Find Out the Reason for the Non-Offer - You must take charge in finding out the reason for the non-offer with the employer by contacting the recruiting coordinator, your mentor, and/or the employer’s hiring partner. Ask for valuable feedback regarding points you need to work on, which projects were below average, and whether there were certain projects that turned out well. Then, you can then contact the attorneys and staff with whom you worked on the projects that turned out well and see if they will serve as a reference for you. Having great references is always a plus. However, if the employer tells you that you were not the best “fit,” simply ask for some additional information that led them to that decision and outcome. Having this essential information on hand will be beneficial when you have to answer questions on your summer experience with prospective employers.

3. It’s Time to Rethink Your Career Objectives - If you were unable to receive an offer from your summer employer, now is a great time to rethink your career goals and aspirations and possibly modify them. What parts of your summer experience did you like in particular and why? What areas of the summer experience did you not enjoy and why? Do you think there is a different practice area or work environment that would better suit your passions, personality and /or work habits? Flesh out these questions with your career advisor today by making an appointment to meet.

4. Obtain Important Information from Your Summer Employer - It’ is time to contact your summer employer and ask them a few important questions. Find out what they will say if they are contacted about you by a prospective employer. Inquire who at the firm would be able to be a great reference for you to utilize in the future. It is vital that you have at least one or two attorneys in the firm who will speak highly of you and your work. Summer employers may even provide some assistance in your job search efforts. This is especially true with larger firms that have a larger amount of contacts available. They may be more than willing to put you in touch with the right people, especially if your non-offer was for financial or fit reasons.

5. How to Handle Interviews Going Forward - In preparing for interviews from this point forward, you must decide on how you will answer questions regarding your summer experience. This could include the big question about whether you received an offer as well as questions relating to why you did not receive an offer. If possible, try to bypass those questions by first explaining that while you enjoyed your summer (and support this statement with reasons why), your summer experience has taught you that you are more interested in other law practice areas. By explaining your new focus and new career goals, prospective employers may not think to inquire about whether you received an offer.

However, if prospective employers do inquire about whether or not you received an offer, be sure to always be positive when reflecting on your summer experiences and your skills. When asked, provide the reason for the non-offer, but do not spend a large portion of time on this point. Once explained, continue the process by providing great references, writing samples, and any other knowledge and illustrations of how you have the abilities to succeed at their company. The goal is to always respond to the questions conducted in the interview, but to keep the interview exchange on a positive side.