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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Frequently Asked Questions About the First Year Job Search

During our counseling appointments with first year students there are a few questions that inevitably come up. How do most students find jobs? When do most students find jobs? How important is it that I work this summer? Below are answers to those questions.

When do I need to start looking for summer employment? What is this December 1st deadline I keep hearing about?
Students should schedule an appointment with a career counselor as soon as possible to review their resume and go over their individual job search strategy and time line. In general, government and public interest internship deadlines usually fall in January, February and mid-March, at the latest. Mid-sized and small firms usually hire on an as-needed basis and many small law firms do not begin to think about their summer needs until much later in the spring semester.

The December 1st date is when employers can begin speaking to first year students under the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) Standards. Large firms usually begin reviewing first year candidates soon after this date. However, very few large firms hire first year students and those that do will hire only one or two students out of the hundreds of applications they receive. Thus, students should not spend a disproportionate amount of time & resources targeting large firms.

How do most students find their jobs?
To find a summer job, you will need to do more than just apply to jobs that are posted. According to the 2008 Summer Employment Survey, 28% of the 229 students who responded found their job through the CSO Job Postings or a job fair. An overwhelming 65% found their jobs through networking, self-intiated contact, or through a referral by a friend, family member or colleague.

What if I want to do a study abroad program instead?
If you decide to participate in a study abroad program, plan on finding a volunteer or internship opportunity for when you return. Many of the study abroad programs end in the early summer, so you still have the rest of the summer to gain legal experience.

Is it true that the job you get for your second year summer determines what you will be doing after graduation?
Not necessarily. Large firms usually give their summer associates offers for post-graduate positions at the end of the second year summer, however those firms only make up 10% of the legal employers out there.

Will I limit my career options if I work in a practice area I am not sure I want practice after graduation?
No. All legal experience is valuable and many the of skills you gain in one practice area are skills that can be applied in another (i.e. research & writing, interpersonal skills, etc.)

When do most students find their jobs? When should I start panicking?
There is no single time of year when most first-years find their jobs. Some know where they will be working by February while others won't find something until April. Small firms will continue to look for summer law clerks throughout the late spring. Between April and June in 2008, 65 summer job postings were posted for first year students. So, even if you have not found a job by the end of April, know that there are still employers out there looking for summer help.

Lastly, remember that the first step to the first year job search is meeting with a counselor in the Career Services Office. If you have not already done so, call 617-422-7229 to schedule an appointment with a counselor for next semester.