On National Career Development Day…

According to the National Career Development Association, today is National Career Development Day.  It happens to fall in the middle of National Career Development Week (Nov. 15-19),  which itself is situated right smack in the heart of National Career Development Month (yes, November).  It’s quite ambitious, we think, to declare a celebratory month, week, and day.  Nonetheless, career development is extraordinarily important for law students.  And since public interest hiring season is approaching, we wanted to mark the occasion with a couple of points:

  • 1Ls, in case the date (understandably) passed you by amidst your efforts to master such concepts as nonmutual collateral estoppel and proximate causation, Nov. 1 marked the point at which you were able to begin meeting with your schools’ career development professionals.  (See NALP’s Principles and Standards for Law Placement and Recruitment Activities, Part V(D) – bottom of page.)  On December 1, you will be able to initiate contact with employers.  We at the PSLawNet Blog have mixed feelings about 1Ls focusing much, if at all, on the job search during 1st semester.  In a perfect world, you would spend the entire semester learning how to be law students.  We recognize, though, that the poor job market has many of you feeling ill at ease.  So for those who wish to take the plunge, we wish to convey how strongly we feel that setting up a meeting with career services is the best starting point.  Your author was very stubborn in school and fashioned himself a sort of rogue public-interest student.  Even though my school had a stand-alone public interest career office, I didn’t set foot in it.  This was really, really dumb.  I was able to find a summer job only because of some public interest work experience I’d gotten before school.  But I was operating with tunnel vision and had no idea about the broad array of practice settings that were open to me as a job applicant.  Had I met with career services, I’d have cast a much wider net in choosing where to apply.  And, on account of my stubbornness later in law school, I was hopelessly out of touch with the timeline to apply for postgraduate fellowships – something I still regret, and something my public interest career advisor could easily have clued me in on.  Finally, I don’t even want to think about what my cover letter and resume looked like without a trained set of eyes having reviewed them.  In retrospect, I got my 1L summer job in spite of my job search skills, not because of them.
  • Many 2Ls and 3Ls may already be hard at work on summer and postgraduate job applications, respectively.  I strongly encourage you to check in with your career services office (even, no, especially, if it’s for the first time).  And take advantage of PSLawNet’s career search resources on cover letters, resumes, and interviews, as well as our public interest career fairs calendar.

Good luck, and if there is anything we can provide to make things easier – short of a more rapid economic turnaround – please let us know.

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