Caution! Don’t Restrict Your Job Search to the OCI Process
Summer is finally upon us! Yes, the season of music festivals, shorts and sandals has pierced its way through nine months of frigid law school despair and now you can finally let your hair down and begin feeling the sand in between your toes. While this is mostly true for the average student, law students know that while they can indulge in the excitement of this beautiful season, they can only let their hair down midway because they still have to either secure their next summer job or a postgraduate position during this time. So how do they do this? Most students have the misconception that the primary means by which they can secure their next job is through the dreaded On Campus Interview (OCI) process. Now, while this is a popular way to secure a position, especially if you’re looking for a big law job, don’t lose sight of the many alternative job hunting methods that you can utilize this summer. OCI’s are just one of the many steps you can take. Unfortunately, many students rely solely on this method and end up disappointed at the end of summer when it doesn’t work in their favor (yes, I’m talking about myself). But fortunately enough, I already suffered this mistake so that I can forewarn you about this misconception and point you to the many options available. So grab your sun tan, grab your laptop and let’s make a summer job search plan!
If you do OCI’s, don’t restrict yourself.
Ok so I know this post is about not relying solely on the OCI process, but, before I delve into the alternatives, I do want to point something out. If you do use the OCI process, don’t restrict yourself to a small locale. During my OCI process, I restricted myself to only applying to jobs in two states. At the time I thought I was making the right decision because I had no desire to live anywhere else. However, in retrospect, I think this undercut my career options. I think it’s a good idea to be more open minded and probably select five or more states that you can see yourself living in and then just apply to whichever positions are most appealing to you in those locations. Now, if you have more ties such as family etc. that pull you to a specific location then you can definitely ignore this advice. But during the OCI process, it would definitely be more beneficial to spread your options far and wide.
Ok, now on to the alternatives!
1. Secure a Position in your Current Job
The best part about job hunting during the summer is that you probably have the easiest access to a prospective position through the current summer job you now have. If you’re a rising 3L this is especially true for you. Many employers, will use your current work experience, as an extended interview process in which they’re determining whether you will be a good fit for a post-graduate position. If you’re lucky, you’ll receive an offer at the end of the summer and then have the option to kick your feet up during 3L year. But, if you’re a rising 2L or maybe a rising 3L working for a small firm or a non-law firm position, an end of summer offer may not be in the books for you. However, don’t let that dissuade you! You can still use your strong work ethic to either dazzle your employer enough to change their mind at the end of summer or hold a future position for you. So how do you do this?
- Work your butt off this summer! Before you can even think to use this option, it’s important that you work your butt off the entire summer! Make sure that you’re the first person there and the last person to leave. Put your all into every assignment that you receive and make sure you apply the appropriate changes when you receive feedback. This sets you up as a great candidate for a future position with this firm/organization.
- Let your supervisor know you’re looking for a future position: Once you’ve done the above, let your supervisor know how much you’ve enjoyed the position. Let him/her know about your interest in taking on future employment. If your supervisor is unable to give you an offer on the spot, if you applied the above, it’s likely that they will tell you that they will keep you in mind if a position opens up. Be sure to stay in contact with your supervisor throughout the year and chances are they will actually keep you in mind and be able to give you an offer once a position opens. In fact, this is exactly how I secured my post-graduate position.
2. Resume Drop
Another OCI alternative that students tend to overlook and utilize when it’s way too late, is the resume drop method. Yes, there are many negative criticisms about this method, but it can work in your favor if you do it right. In fact, one of my law school friends secured her 2L job and post-graduate position at a renowned big law firm by using the resume drop process, so don’t overlook this tool! So how do you effectively use this method? Create a list of all the firms/organizations you’re interested in applying to, add the contact that you will reach out to, then send off your resume along with a very short cover letter stating your interest in the position, then voila! A job may just come your way.
I think the most important thing to do in using this process, is selecting an effective point of contact through networking. Try to find someone at that firm/organization that you have something in common with. Maybe they went to your undergrad or law school. Perhaps they’re a part of your sorority/fraternity. You can easily pull this information through online networking sources, like LinkedIn. It may be more effective to send an email of interest to this individual then they would possibly be willing to send your resume along to HR themselves or may be willing to put in a good word for you once you’ve notified them that you’ve sent your resume to HR. So use this method effectively!
3. Don’t Overlook Traditional Job Search Methods
Last but not least, don’t forget to continue to use traditional job search methods such as: Indeed, Career Builder or your school’s career services office. Utilizing this option along with the options above while you undergo the OCI process will certainly set you up for your next position!
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