Why Applying for Jobs is Like prowling for a One Night Stand, and How to Improve Your Chances (at a job)
It’s the end of the Spring semester and as evening division students going into our third year of law school, it’s time to start looking for internships. My studly classmate Rispy (who, mind you, already has a legal job) recently compared searching for an internship to trying to land a one night stand. According to his theory, in both scenarios, you get rejected, like, every time, but eventually something about you catches someone’s attention, and you are in. Pun completely intended. I never thought about it so carnally, but I see the distinct parallel between the rounds of compounded rejection throughout each process. I mean, I can’t totally relate of course because I haven’t trolled for one night stands. But if I had, of course, I would not have been rejected (I tell myself). But I get his point for sure.
For those of us who are uber dorks and over achievers, this whole job search thing may come easily (while perhaps, a one night stand does not) because we were so proactive that we worked all summer (most likely for free) last year. We know people. We networked our pinstriped suited butts off. We wrote the book on networking. But then there are the ones who focused solely on school (and not one night stands) and learning how to teach yourself the law, because for those of you dreamers, contrary to popular belief, you aren’t really taught the law in law school. *GASP! *GAFFAW!* Say what? I know, right?! Surprise! You are guided (if you’re lucky) by professors who will hint at how to teach yourself the law. My Civil Procedure Professor – and those of you reading this who had him will know exactly who I am talking about – used to “hide the ball” from his students. I don’t know if anyone ever found the ball, or if it was even hidden to begin with, but I digress. The point is, if you’ve struggled with finding summer work/internships as much as you’ve floundered at one night stands, there are some things you can do at this point to be prepared for next summer, in case this summer snuck up on you too fast…although for most of us, it didn’t come fast enough.
1. Exploit your networks. Have you told everyone you know under the sun that you are looking or available for summer work and what your interests are? It’s a lot of who you know, and what you know tends to come second when searching for work. Remember your alumni, family, Coffee Shop baristas, neighbors, teachers, mailmen/women, people you see regularly, the guy next to you on the plane/train/shuttle. You just never know where simple conversations can lead. As a side, I learned to really network fairly recently and hated it for a long time. Look for my post about it.
2. Don’t panic if you don’t have something lined up yet. It is not the end of the world, I promise. You have the time, now, to get a jumpstart on something for next year. This gives you the opportunity to really put the time into your CV and cover letters. So do it. Be proactive and make the most of your time off.
3. Find a Mentor. I’m almost 30 and finishing up my second year of school. I am an adult, and I know I still need some handholding at times. Your mentor doesn’t absolutely have to be an attorney, but someone who is successful in their career and enjoys it is a must. The point is to find someone who can contribute to your finding your path in Law and your legal career, and is a good example of what you would like to be as a human being. Consider being a mentor to someone else as well. Sometimes the best way to learn about yourself is by leading and helping others.
4. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Yes, this may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because let’s face it – the reason most guys don’t go up to women and just ask them out (or to bed) is the fear of rejection. So too is the reason people don’t keep searching/applying for work. It seems like a fruitless quest when nothing keeps happening. But I will refer to a cliche that has been so over used, I don’t know where it originally came from: “Every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes.’ Feel free to apply this adage to the more personal areas of your life as well. Follow?
Hopefully after reading this, you have calmed down a bit and are ready to dive into the process, making the most of the time you have available to you right now. Put these tips to use, and they will help your chances of someone taking your bait.
This piece was inspired first by Rispy and also by a post from the blog Above The Law. Check out their webcast called Career Advice for This Summer. Most of what they say and what I have mentioned here is pretty standard advice that almost any job searching kind of book/seminar etc. would talk about. These are, essentially, useful life skills.