Diary of a Public Interest Law Job Seeker, Entry #3: How do I find the time to look for a job?

by Ashley Matthews, PSJD Fellow

This is the third blog post in a series about my job-hunting adventures (and misadventures). You all may know me as the 2012-2014 PSJD Fellow, in which position I manage PSJD’s website and social media accounts. I love this job, but unfortunately my Fellowship is almost halfway over. Aside from the regular stress of looking for a job, I – like many other public interest law grads who scour PSJD for job vacancies – have to combat a dearth of available positions, an abundance of unpaid postgraduate opportunities, student loans, the bar exam, and a majorly competitive job market.

I’m writing this public diary so other recent law graduates know they are not alone. Looking for a job, facing rejection, and dealing with stress and anxiety can be disconcerting and isolating. So if I touch on something that has happened to you or someone you know, feel free to leave a comment! We’ll get through this together. So, without further ado…  

Entry #3: How do I find the time to look for a job?

This past Monday, I officially started prepping for the bar exam. It’s been everything I thought it would be: time-consuming, a tad bit stressful, and, at times, more than a little boring.

Since I’m working full-time while studying for the bar exam, I chose to take an online bar prep course to meet the needs of my lifestyle. Between viewing my classes online and flash-carding like nobody’s business, I usually spend roughly 4-6 hours a day on bar prep alone. The hours of 9am and 5pm belong almost exclusively to PSJD (no complaints here!). By the time my day is over, I am mentally exhausted.

And then, right before I shut my eyes, I remember that I still need to find a job. As I drift off to sleep, I know it’s too late to pop open my laptop and go job hunting. The mere thought gives me a headache.

This first week of working full-time, studying for the bar and job searching has opened my eyes once again to the importance of time-management. I haven’t felt pulled in this many directions since law school.

I’ve quickly realized that if getting the right job is a high priority for me, then I have to treat it like one.

Under this new time-crunch, I’ve created a weekly schedule that I try to stick to as much as possible. Now, sandwiched in between work, bar prep and necessary hobbies that help maintain my sanity, there’s about 30 minutes to an hour of job-searching a day.

I debated on looking for jobs only a couple of times a week, but I have learned the hard way that deadlines come and go very quickly. I use PSJD to add Employer Favorites or set up daily email alerts that send filtered jobs straight to my inbox every morning. (If you want to learn how to set up your own email alerts or add Favorites, email me at amatthews@nalp.org or check out this old blog post.) I also have a few go-to websites that I mentioned last week.

In terms of maximizing my job hunt, it also helps to have friends in high places. I’ve contacted a few old internship supervisors to let them know I’m looking for work. Previous connections may have internal leads on jobs that may not be circulating online. By the time most of us graduate, we have formed a pretty solid network of mentors, supervisors, colleagues and peers. These people may be our best bet to finding a job that is just right.

Be sure to check back next week for the next entry in the Diary of a Public Interest Law Job Seeker!

Ashley Matthews is the 2012-2014 PSJD Fellow. She is a graduate of the University of Miami School of Law and has a background in multimedia journalism, political science, and digital media management. She is very passionate about access to justice issues, global social entrepreneurship, and legally empowering low-income and marginalized communities.


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