By Sarah Devlin • April 26, 2008•Choosing a Career and Landing a Job
I’m not in the top twenty of my class. I’m not even in the top twenty percent of my class. In fact, by definition, the majority of my law school class is not in the top twenty percent of my class. Yet, we keep being forgotten by our professors, our deans, and perhaps most noticeably, our career services offices.
How many speakers, meetings, and panels have I sat through only to find out that what they’re discussing doesn’t apply to me because I’m not in those top slots? If I’m even interviewed, I will probably not be hired by a large firm right after graduation. I will probably not be chosen for a judicial clerkship. I will probably not become a law professor. I will not be making $100,000+ in the year after graduation. Is that fair? Maybe not, but that’s not what I’m ranting against today. I’m not bitter about these opportunities being closed to me. I am bitter that the opportunity to learn what career choices are available to me has been closed. I want to work hard. I want to succeed. I’d like to know where I can do that and what there is out there for me. Why is it that only twenty percent of law students get their options paraded in front of them, while the rest of us have to dig, guess, and flap around without being taught to swim?
I’m not ashamed of my grades or my class rank. I’m number 63. 63 out of 150. Most law students probably would not post their rank for the world to see, but I’m hoping to make some kind of statement. I work 20 hours each week, I volunteer, I am extremely involved in the organizations and general goings on of my campus and community. Yet, because I’m 63 and not 3, what happens to me after I graduate doesn’t seem to matter to the school that I pour so much time and effort into. When did being average become subpar? When did it become okay for law schools to overlook the majority of their students? I’m 63! That’s not bad! When did that become bad? When did someone comfortably above average become a bad student?
Many recent posts have discussed the stereotype of Generation Y as “lazy underachievers.” If this stereotype is true, could it be that many of us from middle class America, who don’t have parents in the legal profession, fall in the lower 80% and have no idea what is out there for us? Could it be that 80 percent of the students in our law school classes take longer to find a job that makes them happy because while in law school they haven’t been exposed to the job market available to them? When I have asked, I’ve been presented with a string of ‘can’ts.’ I can’t count on working in a big firm. I can’t count on being a clerk. I can’t count on becoming in-house counsel. I can’t count on becoming a law professor. So what CAN I do? Eighty percent of the people with law degrees are not unemployed , so there has to be some career path available. What is that path?
I’m number 63 and I’m tired of not being heard. Who cares? Certainly not Career Services.