By Janet Wallace • March 20, 2010•Writers in Residence
Note: On January 1, my husband and I made a resolution for the New Year: we would move to California's Central Coast before the end of 2010. This series will chronicle the career component of our journey as I attempt to make connections, build a network, and, hopefully (fingers crossed!), find a legal job in the next twelve months.
I was sitting in a recent career services presentation at my law school--one geared toward 3Ls without jobs--and there was one piece of advice that the presenter kept repeating for emphasis: Don't limit yourself geographically. The wider your geographic scope, she pointed out, the greater your options.
It's a great piece of advice.
I'm not going to take it.
To an outsider, it might seem as though I'm non compos mentis. But, the truth is, moving to exactly the place I want to be is just business as usual. I have a track-record of geographic risk-taking. I moved to Washington D.C. on two weeks notice, without a job or internship, because my college roommate convinced me I would love it. I did love it (and found myself working in the White House to boot). I came to Law School at U.C. Davis because I had decided to take up bicycling and the bike paths were simply out-of-this-world.
I know that geographic risk-taking is not for everyone. Several of my friends have expressed concern over my impending move. One career counselor thought I ought continue to apply to jobs beyond the Central Coast, even beyond the state maybe, "just in case." They are afraid, for me, of the worst case scenario. To be frank, the worst case scenario is certainly not ideal. It might really suck. Waiting tables or answering telephones with a J.D. seems wasteful, unfortunate. Certainly, it's not the most financially sensible scenario.
But what’s the best case outcome? The best case looks pretty amazing. In the best case secenario, I'm exactly where I want to be, doing exactly the sorts of things I want to be doing. And, as somebody who wholeheartedly prefers experience over possession, I'm not afraid to wait for the best case scenario to work itself out. I'm confident it will.
I've been reading Mireille Guiliano's Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility. She opines on overcoming fear to find the right opportunities:
So, again, the lesson learned: don't let fear be a barrier to your achieving your ambitions. Success, like failure, is relative, and out of a stage of modest professional achievements (failure is such a dramatic and generally inappropriate word), there is always the potential for upside. You can wake up one morning and find that your prospects and perspective have changed overnight. Sometimes it is simply that you are ready to enter a new stage in life and embrace new opportunities and challenges. You then need to go looking for opportunity. Or perhaps an opportunity comes to you and announces, "It's time."
And, so, I've decided that even if the worst case scenario becomes my (temporary) reality, I will continue on the path of idealism, in search of the right opportunity. I will continue to attend local bar association meetings and women lawyer's events. I will continue to submit applications and set up informational interviews. I'm committed to living in the place I've chosen. And, after a long day of waiting tables (or whatever the worst-case scenario might be), I'll turn my face to the sun, soak in the good fortune that I'm in the exact place I want to be, geographically, and buckle down for another day of opportunity searching. I know there's something there for me, I just have to find it.
Update: This was the second article in a series about moving to the California's Central Coast. If you are interested in following the journey, here are the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and final posts in this series.