By Kara Citarella • June 30, 2013•Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
When I think of OCI (On Campus Interview) time, I picture a "herd" of law students in a desert of a shaken legal economy, scrambling and running over each other to be the first to get to the "water trough" of a job pool before everyone drinks and the water runs out. If you feel the pressure of this insanity, you are currently a 2L or 3L in law school, barely ready to plan the next part of your life and trying not to panic in the process.
Ms. JD put on an event last weekend, an OCI Bootcamp entitled, "Cutting to the Front of the Line." They had featured speakers from the sponsoring law firm of Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., as well as career counselors from Georgetown and legal recruiters from Major, Lindsey & Africa. There were panels with resume and interviewing tips, and then one-on-one sessions to review your resume and perform a mock interview with a recruiter.
I have a bit of a non-traditional law student story. I worked in the legal field for quite some time before attending law school. I've been over my resume multiple times with recruiters, career counselors, etc. I primarily worked as a legal assistant and paralegal throughout undergrad, and the experience has served me well. I have a 2-page resume that I am attempting to narrow down to one-page for legal internships. After all, legal employers go through hundreds of these resumes, and in one page, you have to make yourself stand out.
But for me personally, the shift in my thinking has been the hardest part. The panel advisors yesterday told me I need to start selling myself as an attorney, not a paralegal or legal assistant. This position requires higher-level thinking and leadership and analytical skills that are not as emphasized in assistant or paralegal jobs.
I also need to identify an interesting hobby of mine. Being a law student doesn't give you much time for extra curriculars, but legal employers like to connect with potential colleagues on a personal level with similar interests. Even when I was previously interviewing for paralegal jobs, I was asked what I did outside of work and school. So the tip does apply in the real world.
I received valuable feedback from my mock interview, and enjoyed learning tips for promoting my LinkedIn profile. People might be searching for my skills and expertise or simply want to follow my career, and LinkedIn in the best way to do that. The key is updating often, being active in discussions, and making your professional presence online known. The suggestion was to take 2-4 hours initially to prepare your profile and "beef it up" so to speak.
The key for resumes? Proofread and catch the employer's eye. Be unique and highlight your strengths. The key to interviews? Prepare answers ahead of time, be professional, alert, responsive, energetic, confident, and on your game. Make them want to know more about you in the 20 minutes you have to make a great first impression.
Go the extra mile and think outside of the box. Opportunities are there, just waiting for you to reach out and grab them! But also, take some real time to think about your interests, especially in the legal field. Contemplate where you envision your career going in the next several years. We MUST take the time to think, envision and plan. It will leave us better prepared for the "herding" ahead.