Resume – Check
Academic Transcript – Check
Cover Letter – Check
Reference List – Check
Writing Sample 1 (less than 10 pages) – Check
Writing Sample 2 (less than 5 pages) – Check
Dry clean suit – Check
These past couple weeks the University of Oregon School of Law commons has been abuzz with 2Ls and 3Ls in black, grey, and navy suits. It’s OCI – or on-campus interviewing – season. After reviewing application materials, legal employers select a group of students to interview at the law school for summer or entry-level associate positions. As we wrap up the first round of interviews at UO there are several different experiences that I have observed.
Group #1: Did not submit applications.
Many UO students chose not to submit applications as part of OCI. Most of the firms who visited campus focus on civil litigation and business transaction law. UO is highly recognized for it’s environmental and public interest programs; meaning many of the students drawn to our school are not looking for this type of firm experience.
Some students only submitted a few focused applications on a specific geographic area or a particular firm for a specific reason. With the limited number of applications being submitted each carried a large amount of stress, there is no other chance or other firm that will call.
Group #3: Submitted Applications, but received limited interviews.
Different employers are looking for different things – grades, professional experience, compelling cover letters, [insert reason here]. Some UO students submitted applications but only received a couple of interviews, despite their peers having full confidence in their abilities as future attorneys. This brings up two important points; first that there are students who are very qualified but unable to stand out on paper and second that students at UO are supportive of one another even though we applying for the same positions. We are all applying for a few callbacks, in which we will be competing with students from schools all over the country for 1-6 total summer associate positions. No matter which group students fell into the harsh realities of OCI are exhausting, stressful, and an emotional rollercoaster that is hard to explain until you are on.
While the students in group #3 were disappointed, they were also determined to shine where given the opportunity. This created a high level of stress due to the unavailability of another opportunity at this time. They have been supportive of their peers who received interviews to firms that they did not. More importantly, they realize will have other opportunities and OCI is not the only chance for a position at a firm in summer 2015 or after graduation.
Group #4: Submitted Applications, received almost too many interviews.
Some UO students submitted fifteen or more applications and received interviews for almost every one. This is the best problem to have. These students are extremely grateful for the opportunity to interview with multiple firms. However, the stress they are experiencing from missing class, feeling less prepared than normal for classes they can attend because they were preparing for interviews instead, and the pressure of the actual interview should not be discounted. Professors and classmates have been supportive of these students by allowing them to miss class, sharing class notes, and giving high fives as they walk by. Or even better, having a mini-dance session to the immortal Taylor Swift’s sage advice to “Shake It Off” five minutes before an interview.
I want to personally extend a thank you to our Career Center counselors and staff. They have worked tirelessly to support students whether or not they participated in OCI and have emphasized finding the right match for the specific interests and geographic desires of the particular student. So as we all begin our job search for next summer, keep in mind that OCI is just one of many options. Please remember that the modern career path may be a ladder or a jungle gym – but the goal should be to enjoy each step (or metaphorical rung) along the way.