It’s getting to be the time that most of the summer jobs are being posted, and all the 1L’s are searching for a summer position. It can be a very stressful experience applying for jobs and interviewing while keeping up with all your class work. Trust me, we’ve all been there.
Personally, I worked at my family’s law firm for two summers doing personal injury work prior to law school. So, when it came to applying for summer jobs, I wanted a completely different experience. I ended up applying for a position with the South Dakota Attorney general’s office, and absolutely loved it. I worked in the consumer protection department and worked on two pieces of legislation that ended up being passed into law. I also worked on multimillion dollar state law suits, a supreme court case, and even a murder trial (which had nothing to do with consumer protection, obviously). Before I interviewed for the job, I vividly remember going to the library and pulling out a book about consumer protection and then having to google the topic because I had no idea what the heck consumer protection meant. The interview was terrible, but they still hired me for the job, and I am so grateful. This position actually is still available, and i would highly recommend it. If you want to read more about the position, you can click this link: Janet Steiger fellowship through the American Bar Association with the South Dakota Attorney General’s office. (here is a picture of me from law school, it’s mid way through ?? don’t judge).
After my 1L summer, i was invited back to the attorney general’s office for a second year. Ultimately, i decided to complete a clerkship my 2L summer, but still kept in contact with the AG’s office, and was even offered a position post clerkship due to the work from my 1L summer. Looking back at my summer experiences, i wouldn’t trade them. I think each position, whether it was at AG’s office or clerking has had an integral part in training me as a lawyer. For those who have reached out, here are 5 tips for finding and completing a sucessful 1L summer position:
1. Keep an open mind
The job you have your 1L summer does not need to be the job you are going to have your 2L summer, and then after law school. The opposite is true, too. If you don’t get the job you want your 1L year, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get the position at a later date. Don’t give up. My best friend ended up working for the city of Chicago during our 1L year, and now she works in big law as an associate. Her dream was always to work in big law, and I remember how crushed she was when she didn’t get a summer position with her firm. Those jobs are highly competitive, but eventually, you’ll get in the door if you keep trying.
2. Don’t work for free
It is absolutely mind blowing at the amount of law students that work for free. Especially near Chicago where I went to law school. It is not acceptable for an attorney or for an organization not to pay you. If they can’t afford to pay you and its a position you really want, contact your school and see if you can get school credit for it. its 2019, everyone should be getting paid for their labor.
3. make connections
Don’t just idly work through your summer job. As tempting as working from 8-5 with as minimal human contact sounds for the introverts like me, actually try to meet people. I met people my 1L year that have become some of my best friends. You will never know where the connections your make might take you, and you’ll never know if you don’t put forth the effort to meet people. Additionally, you probably won’t get a job offer if you don’t make an effort to meet people within your job. I’m not saying you need to be best friends, or go out for drinks every Thursday, but make an effort to get to know your coworkers and leave a good impression.
4. work hard
Summer jobs are your chance to show the organization what you bring to the table. It’s your chance to show how good of a lawyer you can be, and helps you get your foot in the door. Try to be the first one in your office, and the last one to leave. I swear I had a coworker who would stay late, but would just sit on youtube or something weird. don’t do that. don’t waste your time– if you’re going to stay late at the office, make sure you’re working.
5. make a good impression
Be nice, dress professionally, volunteer for work. Even if you realize that your job isn’t your dream job, it’s important to leave on a good note! As lawyers, our reputation is everything, so make sure yours is a good one!
Thanks for reading and good luck with your job search!