The summer after your 1L year is a strange time. Common wisdom is that “as long as you do something law-related, you’re fine.” But what does that really mean? The legal field is already broad, and this mantra only broadens it even more. As you go into the spring semester of your 1L year, here are three tips to keep in mind as you ramp up your post-1L summer job search.
1. Grades are still the most important priority for you right now.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of grades, but your 1L grades will determine where you end up after graduation – your ability to pay back your loans, save for the future, and chart out your legal career. I never quite figured out to vault into the top 10%, top 25%, or even the top 33% – but it was not for a lack of trying. Talk to your professors and ask them what they are looking for on exams, take as many practice questions as you can find, and orient all of your class notes with a focus on “how could this be tested on an exam.”
2. Even though grades are your top priority, set aside 30 minutes a day of “break time” to apply to internships.
This may seem contradictory to the first point – but it’s not. Grades are your top priority. Finding a post-1L internship is number two. What worked for me was doing a small amount of “job stuff” every day during the first few weeks of the spring semester. Job stuff would mean tailoring cover letters to certain employers, dropping my resume on the job bank, and (of course) reaching out to alums. It’s a bit harder to reach out to alums as a 1L (vs. during your post-1L summer) because the timing isn’t as conducive to building momentum going into OCIs. That being said, nothing should stop you from trying to build relationships with alums at big firms.
3. Think from the perspective of an organization’s recruitment committee.
As you prepare your resume and tailor your cover letter to each job, think of the person reading it. What would they want to see? How can you make your experience stand out to that person going through hundreds of resumes? For me, it was playing up my work experience and framing everything I did after college in terms of “client service” even though my skills were not necessarily transferable to biglaw. In other words, do what you can to make your experience work for you. Think of what the firm, government agency, or court want to see and frame your resume and cover letter appropriately.
The final word of advice for 1Ls applying to jobs: apply everywhere. My thought process going into post -1L summer job hunt was to have options. If possible, I wanted to turn down potential employers rather than the other way around. I applied broadly and did, in fact, have options to choose from. Government agencies are a strong resource that looks amazing on resumes and tends to be easier than law firms for post-1L hiring. You want to go to a place that you can instantly turn around and use to impress big firms in July and August going into OCIs. With that in mind, set aside 30 minutes and start applying.