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How to Get a Summer Job or Internship -- 9 Tips

May 7, 2013

Tags: CDO, 2013

Still looking for a summer job or internship? Just beginning your search? Still looking for post-bar legal employment? Use the nine tips below to refine your job-searching skills and better your odds of getting a position!

  1. Commit to the search. Spend time tailoring your cover letters to the specific employers and judges you apply to. It can get tedious, but treat it like a routine for each separate application. A focused application will have an effect on reviewers and can mean the difference between an interview or the circular file.
  2. Get a second (and third) opinion. Send your resume out to a few professors, family members, classmates, and CDO staff for their opinions. If you feel your resume is not netting you the results you want, a fresh set of eyes can help you see where changes will help improve your document.
  3. Generalize or Specialize. Depending on the positions you are applying for, consider whether you want to show off your general legal capabilities, knack of strong research skills, and ability to think fast on your feet or whether you want to showcase your commitment to a particular subject or field of law. A combination of both may be ideal, but may not always be possible. If you are looking to intern with a judge, talk to CDO career counselors to find out if anyone else has interned there. Try to learn more about the judge and what he or she may be looking for in a clerk, then highlight those qualities in your application. If you are applying to a firm or organization, research their specialties.
  4. If you mean it, showcase it. If you are serious about a particular field of law, get involved in the network around that field. Consider starting a blog on the subject or contributing to an existing one. Doing so will build your knowledge of a particular legal area and hone your writing skills, and it will also connect you to an online community of others interested and knowledgeable in the subject.
  5. Marking a message as spam is not networking. You probably receive numerous emails about local mixers, MCLE discussions, dinners, and volunteer events aimed at the legal community. Due to lack of money, time, or interest, you probably send these messages straight to the trash folder. Now is the time to actually start opening those messages and making time for those networking opportunities.
  6. Don't skimp on formalities. If you are new to the formal job or internship process, it may feel odd to have to follow up with a written thank you note even though you heartily shook the interviewer's hand and thanked them for the opportunity. Don't look at it as another form of saying thank you, but rather another reason to remind them you exist. If you have ever been in an interviewer's shoes, you know that many of the candidates begin to run together and appear similar based upon their applications and interview notes. Courtesy thank-you cards can serve to remind your interviewer who you are and can create a rapport between you and your potential future employer.
  7. Can you double-shift? If you are only able to obtain a part-time internship or employment position, consider taking on a volunteer or research role to fill your extra time. Building extra skills and honing your existing ones will help you get closer to landing your ideal job. Plus, you may impress a few employers or organizations with your dedication along the way.
  8. You may have to temporarily settle for less. Parallel to your legal job or internship search, sign up for multiple legal temp agencies. They can afford you the one thing that may be lacking in your resume - work experience. Plus, you never know what a lasting impression of strong work can mean for future prospects with that employer. Many full-time positions have materialized out of temporary legal work because firms are impressed by a temp's skills, work ethic, and personality.
  9. If you build it, will they come? For licensed attorneys searching for legal jobs, if you feel you have left no stone unturned, consider temporarily going solo. Whether or not it becomes your future, you will learn an incredible amount and build experience. There are a number of resources in print and online to guide you.