One of the trends we've noticed in our office lately is a willingness among students to research potential employers, but often in lieu of taking any action to reach out to them. If it's happening in our office surely it's happing among some of you on your own, so we wanted to address it. Obviously, we'd much rather have you researching employers than doing nothing on your job search, so it is not time wasted. However there is the possibility of becoming almost paralyzed by research so much so that it becomes harmful and costs you an opportunity. We'd like to encourage all of you who are doing nothing or stuck in research mode to take action.
By the way, this paralyzed state isn't limited to a legal job search or a job search at all. I will often drive my wife crazy researching something we need to buy to death, long after when she would have pulled the trigger. I'm a regular reader of cnet and Consumer Reports, particularly when it comes to electronics or appliances; and I can research myself in circles for week and months at a time while our food could be rotting in the fridge. "Just pick one so we can feed our kid!" my wife might say.
Why is it important to take action? Well, for one, so your kid can eat. But perhaps more important for you, nobody can hire you if you don't apply or they don't know who you are. This is true today as it would be during fall OCI. Think about it. You're top 25% and registered for OCI, you've researched employers but can't quite make up your mind who to bid with. If the bidding deadline passes and you don't make any selections, you're out of luck and won't get one interview/job offer.
Does that happen? It's hard to say. We have a number of students each OCI session who register to participate and then fail to bid or bid with a very small number of employers. There could be other reasons for that of course, but the end result is the same. No bids = no interviews = no jobs.
Now, the benefit of OCI is the bidding deadline forces most people to bid even when they may not be ready to. In January when we're typically talking about initiating 1L or 2L summer clerkships for the coming summer, there really is no hard deadline. An employer may be hiring now or they may not be hiring until April. However that uncertainty can create real danger if you allow days, weeks and months to go by without taking proactive steps. You most certainly will be ruling yourself out of any opportunities which are being decided upon now or in the near future. And in an already difficult job market, eliminating yourself from consideration simply because you didn't reach out or apply in time just doesn't make sense.
That's the cost problem with spending too much time on research and not enough on action, but there's also a (lack of) benefit problem, particularly when we're talking about 1L or 2L clerkships. In those cases, if you can find an opportunity in your desired geographical area that's fantastic; even better if it's a practice area you're interested in. To whittle down the list of employers any more than that just doesn't make sense. Remember for most of you this summer (1L or 2L) is not going to be an audition for a full-time position like fall OCI opportunities sometimes are; rather it's going to be a summer of networking, building relationships and gaining some practical experience.
So do your research and find some employers you're interested in, but also take some action steps. Send out that resume or application packet. Make that phone call and set up the informational interview. Once you get that first call made or first resume sent it gets a lot easier. It also might help to set your own deadlines by which you're going to send out x number of resumes or make x number of calls. Create your own bidding deadline! As always we are here to help in any way we can.
JOB OF THE WEEK: A new blog feature will be to highlight a job in Symplicity each week you might be interested in. This week's job is: Summer Legal Internship - Wal-Mart (1L, 2L or 3L). Log in to Symplicity to view this job and apply.
Let me know what action steps you're taking: Daniel_Hare@Baylor.edu or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.