The 1L Summer Job Search

The search for a 1L summer job is certainly an experience. For me, the process was long, stressful, and difficult. It’s not always like that, however, as some people find success quickly. For the most part, a lot of the summer job process is a total shot in the dark; some stuff sticks, some stuff doesn’t. There’s typically no rhyme or reason (well, that we can deduce) why your resume was picked for an interview and not your classmates’, and vice versa.

This process wasn’t easy for me, as I said, which is why I’m choosing to write about it for my first summer blog post. I spent many a day feeling embarrassed that I didn’t have a job when my friends and other classmates did. But here I am, on the other side of the process, and things absolutely worked out just fine. Just like all my friends, mentors, upperclassmen, and CDO advisers said it would. The following 4 tips are ones that I learned throughout the process and hope can help future 1Ls keep their sanity, keep their heads up, and understand that, again, everything works out!

  1. Cast your net wide

Almost everyone will tell you that where you work for your 1L summer really doesn’t matter: as long as you get some experience somewhere, and it gives you something to talk about in an interview down the line, it’s a fine job. So don’t go looking for the perfect job that aligns directly with what you want to do. Chances are it won’t exist for your level of qualifications! Instead, really cast your net wide and apply to everything and anything that’s even remotely interesting. Apply to NGOs, non-profits, Harvard clinics, in-house counsels, whatever strikes your fancy. While I tried to make sure that the positions I applied to had some international twist (in-house for international corporations, for example) I definitely applied to jobs that didn’t but still were interesting to me.

  1. At the same time, understand what you’re not interested in.

A popular 1L summer job is a judicial internship, where you intern for a judge. This process starts in December (during finals!) and most people hear back in January and February. It’s really easy to get swept into the momentum of seeing all your classmates jumping on the job search so early and thinking you need to do that as well. Here’s the thing: if you’re NOT interested, DON’T do it! I wasn’t interested in working for a judge as I want to focus more on policy and international law. Also, these internships are mostly unpaid and don’t qualify for PIP grants, which is something I couldn’t do financially. Don’t feel like you need to do what the rest of your classmates are doing and run your own race!

  1. Network, Network, Network

I got my summer job through a BU Law alum that I was connected to in the fall by a professor at the law school. This alum does exactly what I am interested in doing and we ended up talking throughout the year. She forwarded me a job post she had seen from a Fletcher School colleague and endorsed my application; I ended up being picked for an interview and then landed the job. The point of this is that Symplicity (BU Law’s internal job board) has tons of jobs and the majority of places I applied to were posted there, but the job I accepted was brought to me through independent networking. Never stop networking and looking for opportunities! Talk to upperclassmen, writing professors, alums, alums from your undergrad alma mater- anybody helps! Upperclassmen in particular can be a good resource as well, as they can point you to Professors looking for RAs and openings at their previous 1L summer jobs.

  1. Patience!

Patience is not a character trait I generally possess. I mean, true story: when I was little I was so determined to find my Christmas gifts before Christmas that my parents resorted to hiding them down the street in a neighbor’s house. So when it came to waiting to hear back from applications and interviews? It darn near killed me. I think I refreshed my email about 20 times an hour from the months of March-April. It’s especially not easy when all your classmates are getting job offers and you feel like you’re the only one hanging out to dry. I promise you’re not the only one, I promise people are still looking for (and then accepting jobs) even into finals week, and I promise jobs will still be posted on Symplicity even AFTER finals. And things will often happen all at once, when you least expect it, and usually towards the end of the semester. Don’t panic, understand that timelines given by employers will be (very) loose, and know that you can’t change anything by worrying!

Sweet Summer Seventeen

 

Happy Summer to newly rising 2Ls! As a rising 3L, I’m happy to say you’ve made it past the hardest year of law school—only to now have to go through the busiest year of law school, 2L. It’s okay, it does (supposedly) get better in 3L (so they say and I hope they’re all right). It is truly unfathomable to me that this fall will be my last fall of law school and also my last fall semester of school ever. Although I definitely can’t remember back to starting kindergarten, I do fondly remember trudging into my first day of high school, skipping into my first college class, and—only two years ago—hesitantly stepping into my first law school class.

Before I get ahead of myself, there’s still Summer 2017 to work through first. Initially, I had set my sights on staying in Boston for the summer and exhaustingly tried to find a job there. However, there’s one thing I’ve learned about the Boston legal market in my two years of residing in the city: it is a tight-knit, very close community that is not welcoming to outsiders. What I mean by this is that Boston employers like to see a strong connection or some type of tie to the Boston community before they consider extending even an interview to you. While I completely understand this perspective and even respect the loyalty to the Boston community, it is very frustrating as a newcomer trying to become a part of the community. It reminds me of those job posts for “entry-level” positions that also require “2-3 years of experience”—a illogical oxymoron. How is someone supposed to create a tie to the Boston community if the Boston community is unwilling to give you a chance?

Very dejected, I decided to return home and search for a job where I have all my friends and family that could introduce me to networking connections and job opportunities. Within the first week of arriving home, I was employed. Compared with over 4 months of searching for a job in Boston, and I truly understand what Dorothy meant by “there’s no place like home.” So, although I still feel a little rejected by Boston, I don’t at all feel like a failure in any way. There’s no shame in going home and using your connections to more easily secure employment. Plus, I can’t find a single thing wrong with a fun summer in South Florida with all my friends and family before next summer I’m slaving away studying for the Bar Exam.

Moral of the story: there’s no shame in going home. Instead of focusing on what you weren’t able to do (i.e. get a job in Boston), concentrate on what you were able to do and all the new opportunities and successes you’ll experience this summer. So, I’ll be sharing my summer seventeen experiences with you straight outta South Florida—I’ll try not to brag about the amazing weather and beaches too much!

There’s No Place Like Home

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There’s no place like home.

As we dipped below the final cloud layer, the Emerald City’s vibrant hues sparkled beyond the frosty mountain passes. I exhaled a sigh of relief. Mittens’ protests emanated from the cat carrier between my feet, cutting through the whirring engines.

I departed Boston just as the summer heat was starting to hit. Back to the cool Pacific Northwest—the land of infinite Starbucks. There are no fewer than three inside the building where I will start working in ten days.

With finals and a frenzied move behind me, I’m ready to regroup. I spent most of the flight planning my schedule for next semester and outlining my summer goals. As to the former, I’m extremely satisfied with my course selection. Because BU Law’s registration operates on a lottery system, I won’t know whether my dream schedule will come true until June. Fingers crossed, here’s what I’m hoping to take this fall:

Admiralty
Cybersecurity
Negotiation
Local Government Law
Professional Responsibility (Graduation requirement)

I really wanted to take Corporations, as it’s one of three classes Dean O’Rourke recommends that all law students take, regardless of what type of law they intend to practice. (The other two are Evidence and Intro to Federal Income Tax, both of which I found to be incredibly worthwhile.) Since I’m unable fit Corporations into my schedule, I’m committed to teaching myself the subject this summer. Knowing that the MPRE looms, I also plan to study for that exam via online videos.

As for my non-school-related goals, I’ve signed up for weekly bass lessons and am determined to get through a lengthy backlog of pleasure reading.

Ready, set, SUMMER!!!

The Building Itself

With just one more paper standing between me and the end of my 2L year, it seems like a nice opportunity to look back at some of the choices that got me here. In recent weeks, it’s been fun to see lots of new faces around the law building—some have been touring trying to make decisions about law schools, others are students who have already signed the paperwork to become members of BU Law next year.

Those days of looking at law schools were stressful days for me. On one hand, I felt very fortunate to have acceptance letters from a few law schools. On the other hand, I wanted to make sure I was going to the school that was right for me.  There were lots of factors that went into my decision, but seeing students touring the building was a reminder of how important the physical structure of the law school was to my decision.

To be perfectly honest, BU Law was not at the top of my list when I first started applying to law schools. I was worried that the lack of a traditional campus was going to be a detractor from the law school experience—I felt like a tree-lined quad was a necessary part of academia. I applied to a good number of schools, all on the east coast, and when I flew out from my then-home in Hawaii to tour campuses, I had a chance to see quite a few of the lovely, bucolic college campuses that closely matched the image I had in my head.

But as I toured more and more campuses, I came to realize that law school life is not the same as undergraduate life. In law school, all of your classes are generally held in one building. That means you will be spending a good portion of the next three years of your life within the walls of whichever law school building you choose. So you should choose wisely.

Once I came to that realization, I started paying less attention to the quads outside the building and more attention to the study spaces within the building. I knew that I would be constantly looking for new places to study over the course of my time in law school—sometimes I might like to be around other people, other times I might like to have a space to myself. At the end of the day, BU Law’s facilities after the addition of the Redstone building seemed to have everything I was looking for. On some days, I could buckle down in the belly of the library surrounded by stacks of books and old oil paintings of important figures to give me the feel of an old New England university.  On other days, I could sit in the café with a large cup of coffee and study while looking out at the Charles River.

Since coming to the school, I have studied all over the school, depending on what kind of mood I am in to feel productive. At first, I spent a lot of time in the library, particularly in the quiet room. But then I found myself spending a lot of time in the café enjoying the background chatter while I worked. Towards the end of my 1L year, I would often stick around in the empty classroom after class was done and knock out work until another class came along. As a 2L, I had access to the PILJ office, which could be a good place to get work done for a few hours, or I might find a carrel in the library where I could concentrate. Group study sessions were helpful in any of the group study rooms, but I liked the cosy setting of the mezzanine-level rooms in the stacks.

Looking back, it is crazy to think that I had put such a premium on a traditional campus (as I thought of it). I study almost every day in rooms with the best views of the Boston skyline around. I look up from my computer and watch crew teams and sailboats on the Charles. When I need a study break, I put away my things and walk along the river, and when I really need a study break, I throw my stuff in my locker and walk across the street to get a beer at the Dugout. I’m not sure what else I could ask for.

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It’s even nice in the winter…

I have logged a lot of hours in the law school building, and I feel like it is a blessing that it still retains much of the charm that drew me to BU Law in the first place. Even after two years, I still feel like I have new places to explore within the walls of Sert’s building and the Redstone expansion. Say what you will about the brutalist architecture of the law tower, from the inside, it’s a pretty great place to be.

3L Rising

And like that, 2L was over. Eight months of late nights, of clinic and moot court, of inhaling legal tomes. I don’t dare count the number of espresso shots consumed.

Kicking back after my tax final

Kicking back after my tax final

A note on exams: They were tough. Unfortunately, most law school exams are not simply a matter of mastering the material, but of regurgitating information as fast as humanly possible—never my forte. To be honest, I’ve never finished a law school exam. Not a single one. Like the LSAT, they reward speed; the tortoise never wins this race. But don’t let that get you down. This flat metric isn’t the measure of a great lawyer. Onward and upward, I say.

Last night my friends convened for our traditional post-finals celebration before we scatter for the summer. They will be interning with public defenders and prosecutors, with companies large and small, with federal and local government agencies.

Final get-together before we scatter for the summer

Final get-together before parting ways for the summer

Parting would be far more difficult if the end of exams signaled anything other than “I’ll see you in September.” I’m so glad I have another year left; I’m just not ready for law school to be over. (In fact, I rather wish law school were four years because there are so many classes that I’d love to take but won’t have room in my schedule to accommodate.) Thankfully, I don’t have to think about goodbyes yet. Instead I, too, am ready for my next adventure—spending the summer learning about civil litigation with a fabulous firm in downtown Seattle.