advice

Use Thanksgiving to Help Your Job Search…

If you’re going home for Thanksgiving, here are three effortless things you can do to further your job search.

You might be asking, how can Thanksgiving dinner help with my job search? Can’t I just enjoy my turkey and football and not think about the job market for one day? Of course you can.  But there are a couple of simple things you can do that don’t require leaving the comfort of your home – you never know what might pay off!

First, tell people that you are looking for a job. You should be doing this anyway.  Your kooky Aunt Sally might just happen to know someone in the field of your interest.

Second, share what you’ve been learning.  You can pull this off without seeming obnoxious.  For example, if the turkey is dry, don’t start talking about what section of the UCC you can sue under.  But if there’s a subject you enjoy, getting into a debate with your cousins about it might just highlight an area of practice that interests you and help you focus your job search.

Finally, manage the expectations of your family and friends. Are you feeling pressure from them about the job search? Do their expectations seem unrealistic? Be up front about your plan and tell them about your strategy.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy the holiday! Take the time to listen to what’s going on in other people’s lives and get some perspective on life outside of law school.

More information is included in the OCPD weekly newsletters, available here:

1L Newsletter2

2L Newsletter9

3L Newsletter9

Networking 101

This is a recent article from our OCPD Weekly Newsletter, sent to 2Ls and 3Ls.

You’ve heard it over and over again.  Networking is the key to success. Networking will help you find a job.

If one more person tells you networking will solve all your problems, you’ll scream!

Take a step back. Think about all that networking entails.  It is a skill – much like analyzing a case or presenting an argument.  Like all skills, these take education, practice, and time to develop.

Networking is not just about finding a job. It’s about building relationships.  This is a skill that you will use throughout your professional career.  Employers – whether law firms, government, or public interest – expect law graduates to not only have excellent analytical skills and writing ability, but also be able to develop connections with coworkers, clients, and potential clients.  By building rapport with colleagues, community members, and other professionals, you begin to establish the trust that is the foundation of a business relationship.

You already do a lot of networking. Are you on Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? These sites are about building relationships.  People who are active in social networking generally enjoy personal engagement, enjoy getting to know people.

Nevertheless, you’re not going to get very far if you limit yourself to online networking.  You have to get out there, attend professional events, volunteer, take part in community activities.  Just show up.

Once you’re there, here are some tips for “working the room.”  The more events you attend and the more actively you participate, the more skills you will build.  As you get more comfortable in this type of environment, you will see that building relationships gets easier. Who knows, it might even turn out to be fun!

Have something to talk about. If you’re going to an event sponsored by a specific group, see if that group has been in the news lately (it’s easy to run a news search on Lexis or WestLaw). If you know who is going to be there, read up on their bios. Keep up on what’s going on locally – what are people talking about outside of the law school bubble?  None of these things may come up in conversation, but you’ll feel more at ease knowing you have something to break an awkward silence.

LISTEN.  This may be the most obvious, but hardest to do. You’re nervous, you’re thinking about the next thing you want to say in the conversation. Focus on what the person is saying and let the conversation flow naturally.

Get over your distaste for “small talk.” Small talk is the foundation of any relationship. How did you meet your significant other? Chances are you didn’t immediately start out with discussion of serious issues like money and children. Small talk allows you to find the connection on which you will build a deeper relationship.

Finally, DON’T check your Blackberry/iPhone, text anyone, or look at your phone in the middle of a conversation. Nothing says “I’m not interested in what you’re saying” more than this.  If you check your messages out of nervous habit, leave the phone at home (or in the car, at the very least).

This week’s student newsletters are available in their entirety here:

 

3L Newsletter6

2L Newsletter6

 

Government Hiring is Down, But There is a Glimmer of Hope

This recent post from the PSLawNet blog discusses the most recent hiring statistics from federal government honors programs.  While the numbers are troubling, it’s important to focus on the good news – there are federal agencies with new or reinstated honors programs:

  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a new federal agency devoted to safeguarding the economic strength and vitality of America’s families.  The Louis D. Brandeis Attorney Honors program is a two-year fellowship that gives graduates an opportunity to participate in enforcement actions under consumer financial and fair-lending laws, participate in court proceedings defending Bureau rules and regulations, provide analysis for fair-lending compliance examinations, and develop policy.  The application deadline for the 2012 program was October 5, 2011, and will probably be in early October 2012 for the 2013 program.
  • The new Department of Energy Honors Program is a 6-12 month rotation during which graduates are assigned to individual Assistant General Counsel offices.  The offices offer a wide variety of legal practice areas including environmental law, legislation and regulation, litigation and enforcement, international law, procurement, intellectual property and others.  Honors Attorneys may be eligible to compete for permanent positions in DOE after passing the bar exam.  The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.
  • The Federal Communications Commission’s Attorney Honors Program is a two-year program during which attorneys participate in various aspects of federal administrative practice as they relate to the FCC’s oversight of television, radio, cable, wireless, wireline, satellite, and other communications services and facilities. Attorneys at the FCC draft decisions in adjudicatory and rulemaking matters, work with internal and external constituencies to resolve complex policy issues before the agency, participate in international negotiations, represent the FCC in dealings with other government agencies, Congress and the private sector, and defend FCC decisions in the federal courts.  All Honors Program participants will work at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington, DC and will be assigned to one of the agency’s bureaus. At the end of the two-year program, Honors Program attorneys will be eligible for consideration for continued employment at the FCC. The deadline for the 2013 program will likely be late September 2012.

The PSLawNet blog post also offers some valuable advice on making yourself competitive for these government positions – tips include showing a commitment to public service, enthusiasm, and a demonstrated interest in the agency’s area of law. Foreign language skills and experience in the agency’s area of law (including internships) are also a plus.

How do you show these things?  By doing volunteer work, participating in community service activities, and taking part in events that demonstrate your commitment to a particular issue or cause.  In addition, attend conferences and take classes in the particular area of law that interests you.  If you are interested in working for the government, there is still a lot you can do to make yourself a competitive candidate, and it starts with being aware of what that agency is looking for.

2L Job Search Myths

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

Using Social Media in your Job Search

Are you currently using social media in your job search?  If not, you are missing an opportunity to expand your pool of potential networking contacts.  While this doesn’t replace the importance of in-person networking, it does offer the opportunity to network with people beyond your local area.  Once connections are made, don’t forget to take the online connection offline to develop the relationship.  If it’s not possible to meet in person, you can talk on the phone or via private email. 

If you want to learn more about how to maximize use of social media in your job search, come to the program we are hosting on Friday, November 12th from 12:00-12:50 p.m. in Room 1312.  Chuck Hester, a LinkedIn expert, will discuss the benefits and methods of using social media tools to enhance your job search. Register in Symplicity by Wednesday at noon to reserve a lunch.

Law Student Writing Competitions help you stand out

Looking for a way to build your resume and help you to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market?  Seek out opportunities to be published!  Law student writing competitions are a great way to do this.  Below are details about a competition currently underway with the National Law Review. Continue reading »

The Ultimate Guide to LLM Programs

Have you ever considered pursuing an LLM degree?  Are you wondering if it’s worth it and how valuable the degree is to prospective employers?  In their “Ultimate Guide to LLM Programs” the National Jurist addresses these questions and others and provides a comprehensive list of LLM programs at law schools across the country (by practice area).

3Ls: “What Should I Be Doing Now In the Job Search?”

Below is an excerpt from the 3L Job Search timeline offering suggestions for what you can be doing right now in your job search. Because this information is shared with all students, the suggestions are fairly broad and attempt to cover a wide variety of student career interests. We urge you to meet with your Career Advisor to develop a personalized job search strategy and timeline specific to your interests. Continue reading »

2Ls: "What Should I Be Doing Now In the Job Search?"

Below is an excerpt from the 2L Job Search timeline offering suggestions for what you can be doing right now in your job search. Because this information is shared with all students, the suggestions are fairly broad and attempt to cover a wide variety of student career interests.  We urge you to meet with your Career Advisor to develop a personalized job search strategy and timeline specific to your interests. Continue reading »

Tips for making the most of your job search in a tough economy

It’s no secret that this is a tough economy.  Here are some tips to help you make the most of your job search this year: Continue reading »