By Genevieve Antono • October 28, 2016•Writers in Residence, Careers, Firms and the Private Sector, Law School, Pre-Law, Choosing a Career and Landing a Job, Internships and Clerkships
Recently, I had a few classmates ask me how I managed to secure "so many" law-related internships as an undergraduate.
I tell them that part of it has to do with being at the right place at the right time. I'm conscious that many of the opportunities that I've had so far stem from the privilege of attending a great school, and having the support of a world-class career center and a generous alumni network. I also have the advantage of living and studying in New York City, where legal organizations that offer undergraduate internships actually exist, and where most biglaw firms are only a 25-minute subway ride away. To be clear, I am confident in my own intelligence and work ethic—but I also realize that these would have had a more limited impact if I weren't also in a supportive environment with lots of opportunities nearby.
That said, I have found that being very proactive in "building content," and being able to show familiarity with the work, the players and the industry, have helped me tremendously in my pre-law interviews. Below are 3 tips on how to "build content" as an undergraduate. They're geared towards mostly corporate-oriented pre-law positions, but the approach is generalizable:
- Use Twitter to build industry knowledge. Broadly, I follow various law firms, law schools, lawyers and newspapers on Twitter. I retweet articles from the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, NYT Deal Book (etc) that I find interesting, and if I'm feeling particularly nosy, I'll google which law firms are working on a deal. Over time, this has given me a sense for: who biglaw clients are, where business opportunities (for clients and therefore their lawyers) are, and which law firms excel in certain practice areas. Whenever I feel like mindlessly scrolling through my Facebook feed to procrastinate on homework, I try to mindlessly scroll through Twitter instead—chances are, it'll actually teach me something.
- Find opportunities to get involved IRL. I found out about two of the legal organizations that I'm involved in—Ms. JD and the Asian American Bar Association of New York ("AABANY")—through Facebook and Twitter. After liking and retweeting their posts for a while, I actually started going to their events in NYC. For example, I previously posted about attending the Ms. JD panel at White & Case. I also volunteered at the AABANY conference for the last 2 years, and recently attended my first AABANY Women's Committee event. (Don't assume that you can't get involved with your local bar association just because you're not a lawyer or law student—recently, I spent $30 to join AABANY as an "affinity member"!)
- Use resources from the UK. This might sound a bit random, but law is actually an undergraduate degree in the UK. This means that their legal recruitment sites are targeted at undergraduates, and tend to be colorful, interactive, easy to understand, and highly educational. Take for example the super fun video from Allen & Overy on "the anatomy of a deal," at this link. Or, check out these practice area descriptions on the Lex 100 website. So don't hesitate to use UK websites to build "commercial awareness" and industry knowledge.
Finally, my last pre-law tip today is this: be resilient. You should generally find that the recruiting/interviewing process gets easier over the course of your undergraduate career as you gain experience, competence and a slightly more fleshed-out resume. Everyone has to start somewhere, so don't let early failure get you down; the key is to be super proactive, do your research, learn from your mistakes, and to keep coming back a stronger candidate each recruiting cycle. Good luck!
Genevieve Antono is an undergraduate at Columbia University in the City of New York (Class of 2017) and the 2014-2016 President of the Columbia Pre-Law Society. At Columbia, she also founded a Corporate Law Mentoring Circle for her peers.
Check out her LinkedIn at: www.linkedin.com/in/genevieveantono