OCPD events

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.

Five Takeaways from Speed Networking 101

1.  Be Yourself – Although it sounds cliché, many of the employers at this event remarked on how they enjoy seeing students resemble themselves; not someone else’s idea of who they should be. Being relaxed at social or networking events will help you carry on some great conversations and stories. Storytelling is as old as the Stone Age and as current as Tom Clancy. People are always telling each other stories, whether at the office copier, over late-Friday-afternoon drinks, or around the dinner table. Storytelling can be a powerful tool during a self-marketing opportunity such as campus events, or when interviewing with prospective employers. Although storytelling during job interviews has become something of a lost art from what some employers mentioned, it is still something they seek. Instead of the usual 20 questions or a lengthy recitation of your school and work history, try telling a story about one of your accomplishments or how you decided on a law career. While many job seekers already have attractive resumes, know how to dress for success, and have well-rehearsed answers to tricky interview questions; few are skilled at marketing themselves using accomplishment-storytelling techniques. Be sure to practice these important skills at each networking event you attend!

2.  Be confident – Speak confidently when relating your school and career successes. You may not know everything about a particular area of practice, so don’t be afraid to admit it. On the same token, be confident in the way you talk about the things in which you are well-verse, such as your favorite practice area or extracurricular interests. Still unsure of what to talk about at social events? Don’t be afraid to simply ask honest questions to the person with whom you are speaking. They are in front of you as a resource, so take advantage by ask probing questions – questions that can help guide your career path. You never know where you’ll be years from now in your career, so make sure you exhibit your “can do” attitude all throughout your law career path as it will carry you the distance.

3.  Sell Yourself – Several employers mentioned how it is very beneficial at networking functions to come prepared with a 30-second elevator speech. Don’t have an elevator speech? Be sure to do your research and create one that describes you and your goals, then rehearse it over and over – out loud! Some great examples of elevator speeches are:

a. ”Hello, I’m Tom Smith. I’m pursuing a joint JD/ M.B.A. degree here at Wake Forest.  I want to pursue a career in corporate mergers and acquisitions, because I feel that my business background gives me an additional understanding of the needs of corporate clients. I’m originally from the Washington, D.C. area and hope to return there after graduation.”

b. ”Hi, my name is Mary Jones. I am currently a second year student attending Wake Forest Law School, focusing on public interest work. This past summer I completed an internship with Human Rights Watch where I researched issues of human trafficking. After that experience, I’m committed to a career with a nonprofit or advocacy group focused on issues affecting women’s rights.”

4.  Be Memorable – As employers pointed out, they are looking for memorable experiences when cruising the networking scene or during interviews. They remarked that especially during interviews, they are looking for candidates that will stand out from a crowd. They don’t like hearing the same old “I can help your firm by doing this or by doing that.” They want to see someone who can be a part of their team and get along with the office atmosphere. One particular employer stated that he interviewed 54 candidates and had to quickly narrow the choices down to only 3. The candidates only had 15 minutes to make a lasting impression, which seems like a hard task to complete. However, he was excited to state that the 3 candidates he narrowed it down to were all outgoing, memorable, and reflected a true desire to be on his team.

5.  Be Enthusiastic – To piggyback on point #4, being enthusiastic goes along with being memorable. Enthusiasm and a positive attitude are also contagious. One attorney mentioned that he likes to hear all about the student, but then enjoys how the conversation pivots to excited remarks and stories about what the student wants to do with their law career and where they would like to go. This excitement makes a lasting impression on this particular attorney. Try to answer questions in an upbeat way, conveying that you are enthusiastic and pleasant to be around. You don’t have to lay it on thick and go overboard, but your attitude can go a long way in social events and especially during interviews. In an interview, enthusiastic candidates indicate their enjoyment of their work and their interest in the employer by their behavior. Students looking for their first job are enthusiastic about their academic work, their college, their professors and fellow students.

They Say Talk is Cheap

They say talk is cheap. Perhaps for some, but not for law students who have a boat-load of networking events filling up their social calendar. These students are playing it smart and taking advantage of the many social and networking event opportunities our office is offering in the coming months. All throughout the Fall you can:

  • Learn from students on how they landed their summer job
  • Hear great advice and stories from local practicing attorneys
  • Receive countless wisdom with fellow Wake Forest alumni

You’ll probably want to brush up on your networking skills… again?

Can you ever get enough networking advice?

Of course not!

When it comes to mingling, socializing, and meeting new people, small talk can be a big problem. You want to be friendly and polite, but you just can’t think of a thing to say. Mastering those ice-breakers could mean the start of a lifelong connection, vital to your career. But how do you start, what do you say, and how do you say it – what are the tricks of the trade?

Gretchin Rubin, from the Happiness Project, has highlighted some strategies to try when your mind is a blank:

1. Comment on a topic common to both of you at the moment: the food, the room, the occasion, the weather (yes, talking about the weather is a cliché, but it works). “How do you know our host?” “What brings you to this event?” But keep it on the positive side! Unless you can be hilariously funny, the first time you come in contact with a person isn’t a good time to complain.

2. Comment on a topic of general interest. A friend scans Google News right before he goes anywhere where he needs to make small talk, so he can say, “Did you hear that Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post?” or whatever.

3. Ask a question that people can answer as they please. My favorite question is:  “What’s keeping you busy these days?” It’s useful because it allows people to choose their focus (work, volunteer, family, hobby) — preferable to the inevitable question (well, inevitable at least in New York City): “What do you do?”

A variant: “What are you working on these days?” This is an especially useful dodge if you ought to know what the person does for a living, but can’t remember.

4. Ask open questions that can’t be answered with a single word.

5. If you do ask a question that can be answered in a single word, instead of just supplying your own information in response, ask a follow-up question. For example, if you ask, “Where are you from?” or “What areas of law to you practice?” some interesting follow-up questions might be, “What would your life be like if you still lived there?”, “What made you move here?” or “What made you decide to choose that practice area?”

6. Ask getting-to-know-you questions. “What newspapers and magazines do you subscribe to? What internet sites do you visit regularly?” These questions often reveal a hidden passion, which can make for great conversation.

7. React to what a person says in the spirit in which that that comment was offered. If he makes a joke, even if it’s not very funny, try to laugh. If she offers some surprising information (“Did you know that the Harry Potter series have sold more than 450 million copies?”), react with surprise.

8. Follow someone’s conversational lead. If someone obviously drops in a reference to a subject, pick up on that thread.

9. Along the same lines, counter-intuitively, don’t try to talk about your favorite topic, because you’ll be tempted to talk too much.

So what will it be? Table Talk? Speed Networking? A Law Alumni program? Take your pick or pick them all and try out these new found tips and tricks. You’re in school to practice what you’ve learned from your books, but you are also in school to practice the networking skills that will keep you climbing to the top of your career ladder. There is no one without the other.

Good luck!

Great Advice from Speed Networking 101

Our speed networking program last night was a huge success! Twenty-five law students met with twenty local attorneys from various firms and businesses.  Modeled on the “speed dating” concept, the room was set up with numbered stations, and each student was matched with one or two attorneys. They were given five minutes to meet, ask questions, and give their “elevator speeches” before the bell was rung and the students shifted to the next station.

Participants (both students and attorneys) raved about this event.  The format gave students an opportunity to hone their networking skills in a structured environment, while also meeting and developing relationships with practicing attorneys.  There was an opportunity for additional informal networking following the timed portion.

After each group of students circled the room, the attorneys offered insightful advice and feedback to the students, including:

  • Networking is a skill that can be learned.  Even if you consider yourself shy or introverted, you can become a successful networker with practice.
  • The best way to start is to ask questions of the other person. Try to find common ground – similar schools, interests, hobbies, etc., and then let the conversation flow from there.
  • Listening skills are important! Try not to always be thinking about what you are going to say next.
  • Show interest in the other person. Be careful not to make the conversation all about you.
  • Do your research. Know something about the company or firm the person you’re speaking with works for.
  • Employers hire based on likeability – when looking at a group of applicants who all have similar credentials, they will remember (and probably hire) the person with whom they most want to work on a daily basis.
  • Networking is essential, and not just for your job search.  This is a skill that you will use in practice, whether to gain clients, develop relationships with other attorneys, or grow within the firm.
  • Follow up! After you meet someone, jot down where you met him/her and something about your conversation. Then send an email (it’s always a good idea to remind them where you met) and reiterate that you enjoyed speaking with him/her.
  • You never know who will become a valuable business contact – always act professionally.

To see pictures from this event, visit our Facebook page. The next Speed Networking event with the NCBA Government & Public Sector Section will be on Tuesday, November 13 at noon. Registration is limited, so stay tuned for details!

Finding Success in a Tough Legal Market

The Office of Career & Professional Development presents:

Finding Success in a Tough Legal Market: Advice & Perspectives from Richard L. Hermann, Esq., professor, author and speaker

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

12:00-12:50pm

Room 1312 – Courtroom

A program to discuss the effect of the economy on various legal employment settings and to offer suggestions to students on how you can achieve success in the job search.

Richard L. Hermann, Esq. is a graduate of Yale University and Cornell Law School. His diverse professional background includes:

·         Legal Consultant, US Department of Justice, Defense, & FEMA

·         US Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, JAG Officer

·         US Department of Energy, Attorney

·         US Department of Defense, Attorney

·         National Public Radio (NPR), Legal Commentator

Mr. Hermann is currently a law professor and an accomplished author, blogger, op-ed columnist and sought-after speaker on topics related to legal careers and the legal market.  Some of his books include:

From Lemons to Lemonade in the New Legal Job Market:

Winning Job Search Strategies for Entry-Level Attorneys

Landing a Federal Legal Job: Solving the US Government Job Market

 Managing Your Legal Career: Best Practices for Creating the Career You Want

The Lawyer’s Guide to Job Security: How to Keep Your Job – and Make the Most of It– in Good Times and Bad

The Lawyer’s Guide to Finding Success in Any Job Market

Mr. Hermann’s presentation will draw from his career, as well as all of his books including his forthcoming ABA book, Back to Nature: Practicing Law in Small-Town America.

Books will be available for purchase (student discount with student ID) outside of the courtroom, before and after the program.

Book Signing Times: 11:15-11:50am and 12:50-1:30pm

Please RSVP for the presentation by clicking the Events tab and finding this program in Symplicity by Friday, September 7th to reserve lunch. This program is a career education program for the 1L Career & Professional Development Certificate of Completion.

Champions of Change: Celebrating Public Service Lawyers with the White House

Interested in public service?

Please join us for “Champions of Change: Celebrating Public Service Lawyers with the White House”
A live-streaming event on Thursday, October 13, 2011 from 2:00-3:30pm
Room 1312 (large courtroom)

The White House Office of Public Engagement and the Access to Justice Initiative at the U.S. Department of Justice will host a national, on-line conversation among law students, faculty, and staff, public service lawyers, and Attorney General Eric Holder, to talk about what lawyers can do to close the justice gap.  The conversation will illustrate the range and quality of public interest lawyers’ accomplishments by honoring 16 exemplar public service Champions at the White House. The event seeks to inspire students to think of new ways that they can use their law degrees toward the common goal of public service.

Attorney General Holder will field questions submitted electronically from interested parties in classrooms  from across the nation about how  to improve access to our justice system.

Conducting a 2L Job Search

This Tuesday 9/13 at noon in Room 1312:

While your second year of law school is in full swing, you are also right in the midst of your second summer job search. Are you wondering what happens after OCI?  Are you interested in finding out what other opportunities may be out there?  Are you questioning whether or not you are on the right track?

Come hear the advice and perspectives from four upperclassmen as well as a recent graduate on how they successfully conducted their 2L job search.

Guest panelists include:


Aaron Garnett (’12)

Legal Intern for the Economic Crimes Division

Attorney General’s Office for the State of Florida, Orlando, FL

 

Jessica Kimble (’12)

Summer Intern

Pendergrass Law Firm, PLLC, Raleigh, NC


Matthew Hayes (’12)

Summer Intern

Alaska Public Defender’s Office, Palmer, AK

 

Paul DerOhannesian (’12)

Summer Intern

International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, The Hague, Holland

 

Robert Zawrotny (’11)

Associate Attorney

Novant Health, Legal Department, Winston-Salem, NC


**Remember to RSVP in Symplicity to reserve your lunch**