Wanted — Employment
Around this time every year, law students begin to shift more of their attention, and consequently more of their stress and worries, from the details of the classroom to the prospects of the job market. Whether it is a large firm, a public interest group, or a government position, all of us came to school to get a career practicing law. But actually securing post-graduation employment or being offered a summer internship seems to be more difficult than simply casting a wide net and hoping for the best. Fortunately, GW Law School students can take advantage of a variety of tools, offices, and counselors that can help you land that elusive dream position.
First, take time to visit the Career Development Office on campus. The CDO website advertises the ability to meet individually with a counselor who can assist you in “all aspects of the career development and job search process.” Specific counselors at the CDO specialize in “public interest, diversity outreach, intellectual property, government, professional development, international law careers, and judicial clerkships.”
A quick appointment is well worth the hour of your time. Each session allows students to further map out their priorities and interests and receive customized advice. In addition to counseling, the CDO also provides students and alumni with services like the Career Resource Library, job postings, public interest initiatives, panels, and programs throughout the year aimed at students with specific interests in different practice areas. For example, although the Public Sector Recruiting Program has already passed, the CDO encourages students to continue searching Symplicity for available summer positions and to prepare for the Small/Medium Employer Recruiting Program that will take place in late March. To schedule an appointment with a counselor, simply call the CDO Office Manager at 202-994-7340.
Second, after visiting a counselor and defining your interests and options, get your hands dirty. While common intuition might tell you to apply to as many jobs in as many cities as you can, Carla J. Develder of the ABA’s “Student Lawyer” magazine suggests that students limit their search.
“Many law students, eager to enter the profession and gain meaningful experience, cast too wide of a geographic net, declaring, ‘I will work anywhere,’” Develder said. Instead, it might be better to choose “a locale or two based on your career goals, personal interests, or family connections. Decide what areas of law you’re most interested in pursuing and focus your attention on positions available in those areas. Applying to as many places as possible might seem like the safer bet, but remember that employers can easily decipher your true passions and interests. Nobody wants a half-hearted employee.”
Third, realize that GW Law is well-recognized and respected. This means that graduates and current-attendees already have a golden star on their résumés. At last count, over ninety-two percent of graduates found themselves employed nine months after graduation. GW’s strong reputation isn’t limited to the Mid-Atlantic region—there are practicing GW Law alumni in all fifty states and all over the world.
Students looking for summer jobs or more permanent employment should take advantage of the school’s alumni database to contact graduates practicing in the area of law or area of the country where you would like to work. Sending quick emails to inquire as to how these graduates achieved what they have can always open up doors. Networking can seem like an endless drag, but it might be your best chance to establish meaningful relationships with people that matter.
While recession-inspired nerves would have you think otherwise, common sense, perseverance, and history would tell us that every GW Law student has the means to secure great summer employment. Just remember, an efficient and worthwhile job search requires students to look beyond their backyard and their comfort-zones.