A Day In The Life: DC Job Fair


Welcome back! I hope everyone is geared up for another great year at BUSL.

In what will hopefully be a recurring series, I am going to try to document my feelings and emotions going through certain law school events that some people consider a signature part of the experience. This way, you will know a little bit of what to expect and why law students sometimes act so strangely. Today, we examine Thursday, September 4 – my trip to the Law School Consortium Job Fair in Washington D.C.

6:30 AM: Wake up in Boston half an hour late. Run around the apartment like a headless chicken getting in and out of the shower and properly grooming myself for this esoteric courting ritual known as interviewing for a job. Cut myself shaving. Somehow know that this won’t be the most irritating part of the day.

7:10 AM: Riding in a Zipcar to Boston Logan Airport. My girlfriend is driving. This will be the last time I see her for a couple of weeks – she’s going back to California for some medical tests. To say she has some pre-existing conditions is to say that the Titanic hit some ice. This only adds to the anxiety of the day, and I later feel guilty for shortchanging our goodbyes when I run to get through security.

7:30 AM: At Logan airport. There’s something about being at an airport this early in the morning that is kind of depressing. Maybe it’s just that I’m used to traveling cross-country, and I’m used to an airport meaning my day was shot. Also, lines at the coffee stands are fifteen people deep. Going without caffeine for the day.

8:20 AM: On the plane. If it weren’t for JetBlue and TVs at every seat, I might be catatonic in my early morning misery.

8:35 AM: 5 minutes after our expected departure time, our flight has been delayed. Seriously. Of all days for the engine to spring an oil leak. My first interview is at 1 PM and I know now I’m going to be cutting it tight on time. If I spent $300 for this round trip ticket and I don’t get there for the actual interviews, it would be a bit discouraging. Particularly given the difficulties of finding a job as a 3L right now.

9:30 AM: In the air. Good. Because I wasn’t nervous or anything.

10:45 AM: On the ground in Washington Dulles after an uneventful flight. Run through the airport to try to catch the Washington Flyer bus to the WMATA station at West Falls Church so I can get downtown for the interview. Watch the bus drive away. Thirty minute wait until the next one. Call my friends in DC to cancel lunch plans.

11:15 AM: On the bus to the West Falls Church station. Start reviewing the profiles for the two federal agencies with which I’m interviewing. Try to think about how to convince an attorney I’m qualified for antitrust work.

12:20 PM: Finally arrive at Dupont Circle in DC. Walk to the hotel where the interviews are being held. Thankfully, it’s unseasonably cool, and I’m not drowning in sweat while wearing a black suit.

12:25 PM: Get to the hotel and find the student waiting room. Find that the students and career development staff have been crammed into a comically small conference room. Dozens of overdressed law students from across the country sit huddled around small circular cocktail tables. Most are reviewing their cover letters or staring into laptop screens. A maze of power cords sprawls across the floor as everyone fights to make sure their computers don’t die on them. The room smells of stale pastries and stress-induced body odor, with a faint hint of the mass-produced smell of Cosi lunches finishing off this exquisite bouquet. Find a contingent of other BUSL students, most of whom are too tired or distracted for any sort of fun conversation.

12:35 PM: Walk across the street to grab a Power Bar and Vitamin Water from CVS. This is my first meal of the day. Seriously hoping I have time to go to Five Guys on the way home. (hint: not a chance.)

12:55 PM: Go upstairs in the hotel for first interview. For those of you who don’t know, while the students wait in the conference room, the actual interviews take place in the interviewers’ hotel rooms. Seriously. There are horror stories everywhere about the awkwardness of walking into someone’s temporary living space to ask them for a job. One story out of New York is that some of the hotel rooms are so small that both the interviewer and interviewee have to sit on the same bed to have a civil conversation. Thankfully, this hotel has chairs and sofas in each room but, like most hotel furniture, they smell stale and are predictably uncomfortable.

1:00-1:20: First interview of the day. Meet the interviewer, a fairly recent graduate of BUSL. Strike up a fairly strong conversation about public service, my journal article, and government work in general. Seems to go fairly well. Hard to tell, particularly given how few openings there are this year, but one never knows, and all you can do is stay hopeful.

1:25 PM: Quick drop downstairs to catch my breath and finish my Power Bar. Talk to a few other BUSL students who are leaving DC to interviews in New York, the West Coast, and everywhere in between. As a 2L, that was my life, too – dropping everything for the prospects of a job in a city where I wanted to live. As a 3L, the opportunities aren’t all there, but I’m still taking kamikaze runs for interviews where I get them.

Funny story here: one of the BU students sees two attorneys who she interviewed with Boston on a lunch break from interviewing students at GWU and Georgetown. Equates it to seeing someone you went on a couple of dates with make out with another girl – you don’t have the right to be upset, there was no commitment between you two, but it still makes you want to shrink into a corner with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked and Burn Notice on DVD. Wait, never mind, that’s my coping mechanism. Moving on.

1:40-2:05 PM: Go upstairs for second interview. This one goes horribly. I’m in a two-on-one format (eerily similar to this) where the leading question is “Tell us a little bit about yourself.” Followed up by “So, I see you are in Legal Follies.” Either these two really don’t want to be here, or they don’t want me to be here. Regardless, I feel like a schmuck by the time I slink out of there twenty minutes later.

2:15 PM: Run downstairs, grab my backpack, say my goodbyes, and start walking to the Farragut West Metro Station. My interviews ran late and my flight home leaves Dulles at 4:46. Travel anxiety sets in again.

2:46 PM: Get to West Falls Church in record time. Run outside to catch the Washington Flyer Bus… and watch it drive off. Again. Noticing a theme? Thirty minute wait commences in eighty degree weather, in my suit, with no shade.

3:15 PM: On the bus to airport. Not a lot to write about here, because I zonk out almost as soon as I hit the bus seat. Pretty sure from the awkward stares when I wake up that I snored a little bit.

4:20 PM: After forty long minutes, I get through security at Washington Dulles. Swear to myself (for at least the fourth time) that I will never, ever fly out of Dulles again. The $150 I saved by not flying through Washington National Airport should be viewed forthwith as a down payment on future sanity.

4:48 PM: Flight home leaves on time. Try to watch a Law & Order episode I actually haven’t seen before, but the 80-year old woman next to me wants to talk about her grandkids. Seriously. I don’t have the energy to fight her off, and I later wonder what Tom Everett Scott is doing in my Law & Order episode. I’d pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, but that would be a bit cliche for my taste.

5:58 PM: Back to Logan Airport. Do I sit on the T for 90 minutes getting home during rush hour, or take a cab for $40? Realize my hereditary frugality is no longer a factor in my decision making.

6:30 PM: Home to a crying cat. Feeding time was an hour ago. I wish the damn thing would ask me how my day was once in a while.

7:00-9:00: Reading. What, do you think school stops for the job search? I have two days worth of reading to do for my 10 AM class on Friday. Thankfully, today is the start of college football season. As per the theme of the day, I am treated to an offensive barnburner of a 7-3 game between South Carolina and NC State.

9:01 PM: Off to poker. The one highlight of the day. I play for five hours and make a grand profit of $3.

2:45 AM: Wandering off to sleep. Wonder what I did in a past life to see so much effort manifest so little immediate reward. Looking forward to a three-day weekend.