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Ms. Pre-JD: Career Trajectory Reflections

(First, I hope everyone enjoyed the Fourth – belatedly, Happy Independence Day!)

If I’m being honest, I can’t wait for school to start again. I always remember the shiniest parts of the semester, the perfectly organized reading schedules and new, unedited syllabi, my color-coordinated calendar and a refilled set of black gel pens. The glamour lasts for about two weeks of the semester, and then it gives way to a much more havoc-filled (and realistic) mess. On a more typical Monday morning, my reading isn’t done, I can’t find a single pen, and I’ve forgotten to put any of my upcoming meetings into my calendar.

The summer is the same way. I start off in May with unbridled excitement at a chance to take a break from the tedium of academics. By July, I’m about ready to be back in class or in the comfort of a dorm room, complaining with my friends about the amount of school work I have. The idea of maintaining a work schedule at the same office every day is overwhelming for someone who doesn’t sit still throughout the academic year. And, in the interest of full disclosure, I hear something similar from the attorneys I work with.

The older attorneys who have been at the office for 20 or 30 years are an exception to this, of course. But for younger attorneys, burnout happens fast and often. The availability of options makes it hard for anyone to ever be completely satisfied or settled in their current job, and most young attorneys plan to move their practice within a few years.

Do we just get bored more easily? Or, for some, is it just a lack of self-care? Or, is something else pushing us from the traditional career trajectory? Why is it that, after only 6 months at a given office, I feel ready to move on? Of course, there are cases I still feel attached to and people I would stay to work with. But I can feel myself pulling away from the work and pushing forward to find the next thing.

So, this time I’m posing some questions to you. Attorneys: do you feel that you’re trying to reach for the next job? Is quick turnover something you have seen at your office? Law and pre-law students: are you worried that you will struggle to find a job you can settle into? Are you hoping to settle or to keep your career on the move? Let me know in the comments below!

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Nikki Datta is a rising junior at Columbia University in the City of New York. She serves as Executive Editor of the Columbia Undergraduate Law Review and is currently an intern at New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Litigation office. She is also the founder and President of Columbia University Women in Law and Politics (cuwilp.weebly.com). Connect with Nikki at: www.linkedin.com/in/nikkidatta

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