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How Can March Madness Help You In Your Job Search?

March 24, 2014

This time of year, it seems everyone gets to write about their blog topic by weaving in analogies or themes from the NCAA Tournament. I figured it I could get away with it too!

So what can you learn about the job search from March Madness? Simple: anything can happen. What does that mean and how should you respond? Well for today it means that even if you have a job-search strategy, a 2L clerkship that typically leads to a full-time job, something could change that is completely unexpected—an upset of sorts.

Upsets are what the tournament is made of, and this year has already delivered. #12 seeds Harvard and North Dakota State took down #5 seeds Cincinnati and Oklahoma yesterday. And as I write this, #14 seed Mercer just finished off #3 seed Duke in the largest upset of the tournament so far.

According to statistical guru Nate Silver of, Harvard had a 42% chance of winning its game; NDSU had a 36% chance, and Mercer had just a 7% chance. Those are small odds. Now think about the odds that all three results occurred! (1%) But it happened. (You can see his updated odds going into the Sweet 16 round here.)

How in the world does this apply to your job search you say? Perhaps you change your mind with regard to practice area or geography. Perhaps the firm you’re clerking for this summer isn’t able to make full-time offers to their summer clerks. What can you do today to prepare and be ready when the buzzer-beating upset occurs?

I suggest you plan to attend the On-Campus Interviews meeting April 1st or 2nd. The meeting is required for anyone who wants to participate in Fall On-Campus Interviews in August and October, and everyone should plan to participate.

Each year we have students whose situations change along the lines of what I mentioned above. Inevitably it happens after the April OCI meetings and before OCI in August, and the student will want to participate. Unfortunately we are not able to accommodate at that time, and the student is understandably upset and frustrated. Don’t let this happen to you!

Attend the meeting so that you can have the OCI option open for you all the way up until the registration deadline in July. I have written before on this blog what little sense it makes for OCI participants to use only a few bids and narrow their options so early in the process. The same applies here. Why limit your options by excluding your opportunity to participate in OCI? It’s the only time during the year when a large number of employers, clerkships or jobs in hand, come to you!

The fate of Cincinnati, Oklahoma and Duke was unlikely, however similar results occur every single year. It’s why America loves March Madness. When you lose in the NCAA Tournament, there is no other option. You’re sent to the airport that same day to go home. Fortunately for you, if something happens in your world there are alternatives such as OCI, if you were wise enough to attend the required meeting!

Connect with Daniel at and/or @BaylorLawDaniel on Twitter.

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