Making the Best Use of Spring Break

beach chairLaw students the world over look forward to breaks from law school. Some students view these breaks as a holiday—a time to get away from the intense daily demands of their studies, travel, and visit with family and friends. Other students have ambitious plans for catching up or getting ahead in their studies. Regardless of which approach you take, you are probably pretty happy when you see Spring Break finally approaching. There is nothing wrong to either approach to Spring break, at least in the abstract. In fact, the best Spring Break plans should probably include some of both. The key is to come back to law school after the break in a better place than you were before—and accomplishing this task takes just a little advance planning. Here are a few tips for making the best use of your Spring Break this year:

Set reasonable goals for studying during the break.  Often, law students say that they are going to outline for all of their classes during the break, do practice exams for each class, get ahead in their reading assignments, and read a bunch of supplements. Spring break can be the perfect time to work on getting caught up in your studies, but it is important to set realistic goals. After all, Spring Break usually only lasts a week! You aren’t superhuman, and you can’t do everything. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself, it is easy to get defeated and give up when you realize that you can’t get everything done. Instead, decide what your highest priority items are, and focus on those first. Create a study schedule for yourself during the break, and set reasonable goals for what you intend to accomplish during each of those study sessions. You will be focused and productive, and your efforts will build momentum for the weeks leading up to final exams.

Visit the city where you wish to work. Planning a trip to the city where you want to work, either in the summer or after graduation, will prove useful in the long run. By scheduling informational interviews or even coffee or lunch meetings with attorneys and alumni in the area, you can accrue connections to help you learn the ropes in a new area. On these informational interviews or meetings, ask plenty of questions so that you may acquire tips and best practices about important topics such as how to get your foot in the door at a particular place of employment.

Give yourself permission to take some time off. It isn’t particularly healthy to work long days every day during the break, including weekends. There is still a lot of time before the end of the semester, and you don’t want to burn yourself out. If you take a little time off from your studies, you will come back refreshed and ready to tackle the hard stuff. At the minimum, give yourself a couple of days off entirely. Do something fun. Get out of the house. See your friends and family. Read a fun book. Go to the movies. On the days that you study, take regular breaks. If you set realistic study goals for yourself and create a study plan to achieve those goals, you will be able to build in some time to relax as well.

Make vacation plans that recharge your batteries, not leave you even more tired. Maybe you are caught up on your law school studies, and you’ve decided to go on vacation during Spring Break. (Or you are making it a combination study/travel break!) It’s important to make sure that your vacation plans don’t leave you exhausted as you are heading back to classes. It’s still a long uphill climb to final exams, and you won’t be setting yourself up for success if you have run full speed the entire break.

Above all, think balance. As with everything in law school, taking a balanced approach to Spring Break and other holidays will help to keep you on the right path to academic and personal success.

What Does Spring Break Mean for Law Students?

If you’re a newly minted law student or even a seasoned veteran 3L, you have no doubt been looking eagerly ahead to Spring Break as a time to catch a much-needed breather. You deserve it! However, while you won’t be burdened with the necessity of visiting a classroom on a daily basis, law school will still follow you around — even during Spring Break.

The sought-after week of being away from the classroom is a great time to catch up on any classwork in that may have accidentally fallen behind or needs a little more attention. Perhaps there are a few papers calling out to be outlined in some of your classes, or a project could use a little more attention than what you gave it earlier this year. Maybe you have some previously skimmed over reading that you want to make sure you fully understand this time. There may even be some supplemental readings in some of your classes that would really give you an edge come test time. Spring Break can be the ideal time to catch up on any odd jobs on that scholastic to do list. It may not be the spring break of your college years, but you’ll undoubtedly be less stressed come finals time.

For those still in the hunt for a summer or post-graduate position, Spring Break provides the perfect time to search for job opportunities. You can arrange a meeting over coffee with an alumni or personal mentor and get their advice or even call around to setup a couple of informational interviews or job shadowing opportunities. You would be surprised at how much networking you can accomplish in just 7 short days, so keep an eye out for events to attend. You never know who you might run into at that family beach gathering, in the airport, or even over lunch.

With all of that said, you absolutely have to make sure that you find time to take your mind away from school. There are only so many mental breaks one gets during the academic year, and it is imperative that you use them to your greatest advantage. Spring Break provides such an opportunity – get out and enjoy the sun (if it’s out!), see the latest blockbuster movie, call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while.

Are you going to cease studying altogether? Probably not. Can you take a break to hit the driving range? Yes. Will you wholly ignore your outlines? Doubtful. Can you work on them at an outdoor cafe while enjoying a sandwich and your espresso drink of choice? Of course you can. If you do, you’ll find that you return refreshed and prepared for the rest of the semester!

I’m a 3L and It’s February. What Now?

The 3L spring semester job search is a planned process that should be completed with research and focus. We all know this, right? The ideal state of being for a 3L student during their Spring semester should be to remain organized, structured, and systematic. But what if you become frantic and stressed? This may be causing you an injustice which will dampen your job search efforts. In case you need a few friendly reminders to coach you along during this busy time, here are some important points you should be keeping in mind this month:

Yes… More Networking! By now, 3Ls are pros at networking. So be sure you utilize this asset. This includes targeted networking, volunteering, social media networking, and exploring leads. For those students taking the bar in the summer, be sure you are making your connections now. Many employers will hire now or even make plans to hire after graduation for non-law-related jobs. Join a networking group or bar association, attend local events, or get in touch with the Alumni office for school related functions where you can meet those oh-so-important contacts. Remember, not all employers and firms post jobs online. Many of them may be on the hunt for new employees through word of mouth or through chance meetings. You never know what lies ahead of you when you are out and about networking and meeting new people. See our recent blog article for tips on contacting Wake Forest Alumni if you are unsure of how to reach out, or our read our article on what to do when you do meet up with a connection or contact.

Think Broadly. But Don’t Apply to Everything: The “I want a job, any job” mentality can inspire fruitless activity. Frantic application for every possible job posting also looks poorly to potential employers. Rather than the time-consuming job search, churning out 30-40 job applications online each day, go for the thoughtful approach. This involves careful research into options such as targeting specific jobs and geographic locations in which you are interested. Where do you want to live? What is your targeted practice area? Do you have any contacts at a certain firm, employer, or location? Create a list to narrow down your search so you are thoughtful in your job search. These types of activities are known to produce great results.

Unsure of What You Want to Do or Where to Go? If you have spent much of your time exploring practice areas, specific jobs, and possible geographic locations and are still confused, seek help now. Start a concise, ongoing career plan with achievable, measurable goals. This includes items such as your desired geographic locations and practice areas, as well as a list of your known contacts and prospective connections you would like to soon contact. Include a reasonable time set for each goal so that you can stay on track in a timely manner. Having this plan in place will help guide you along when you are feeling overwhelmed in the job search process. If you are unsure of how to get your career plan started, or if you would simply like some advice and guidance, help is available and only an email or phone call away. Your career advisor is here to help guide you if you are finding yourself running around in circles. It is never too late to make a plan! Your career advisor not only helps you with the resume writing, but can also sit down with you to devise strategies on your job search efforts to ultimately get you to your goal. If you haven’t been in touch with your career advisor this semester, now is the perfect time to reach out. We want to know how your job searching plans are going, how you’re doing, who you’re meeting, and if you need assistance with what direction to go.