Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress - It's Six O'Clock - Do You Know Where Your Internships Are?

For my 5th column for BLS Advocate, I decided to write about the anxiety of failure to secure a summer internship by spring break.  This is also the first time there has been substantive editing of my column, so here on Flying Houses, you get the un-edited "crappy" version with run-on sentences, tangential parantheticals, and just plain awkwardness.

I do think the version on BLS Advocate will be vastly superior to this (the opposite of the Facebook incident...) but I choose to present this for its "cheekiness."  

Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress: It’s Six O’Clock – Do You Know Where Your Internships Are?

                I am writing this on March 4 (and it may, or may not, be published by March 7th).  Either way, at present we are two months, or sixty days away from the end of the year.  If you are one of those fortunate individuals who knows what they are doing this summer (or, in the case of 3Ls, after this summer), congratulations, you can live with slightly less anxiety than the rest of us.  However, I don’t think I’m in the minority of 2Ls when I say I don’t have one yet, and I’m getting a bit concerned. 
                I have a theory: with each year of law school comes diminished opportunities.  I believe that it is surprisingly, perhaps remarkably easy for 1Ls to obtain summer internships.  You’ve just been burnt out, and now it’s time to see if you can be a good office worker.  If you are a 1L and are not sure what you are doing yet, don’t worry. 
                Last year, I spent most of Spring Break applying to jobs on Symplicity and doing a bit of reading for class.  I did not concern myself with outlining (nor do I plan to do so this Spring Break).  Last year, I probably sent out about 40 resumes and cover letters.  Here, I can check how many….
                  67.  67 last year.  And 34 this year.  However, I was surprised to see that many of the places I applied to last year were also applied to this year (which is, in large part, a result of the PILC Fair), and so I probably have many more cover letters that I can easily craft—except I must admit that I now I take a very different approach to writing cover letters.  At this point I am able to pop one out in 5-10 minutes.  I’m not sure how I feel about the “fine paper” distinction for resumes and cover letters – I spent $24 at the Court St. Office Supply store, mailed out 9 applications to judges with fancy envelopes, fancy resume and cover letter paper, transcripts and writing samples, and I heard nothing back.  (I should also note here that – one should be able to infer from my comments two columns earlier, that I was not so fortunate in what I thought would be my “big break”—but this is not a column about my life, but all of our lives – and such specificity should be discouraged—unless you want me to tell you in person…)
                The point I was trying to make before I got all caught up in numbers is that I did not have an internship at this time last year either.  And then, without warning, it hit.  After a preliminary interview to be a research assistant that I bombed on March 21 last year, I was contacted by a flurry of organizations (all governmental – none non-profit) around April 4th.  Four different places called me in two days, and I ended up taking the internship that I interviewed for first.  (Additionally, I was formally offered an internship with KCDA sometime in early May, about a month too late.  And I look at my e-mails now from a coordinator that say, “Are you interning at KCDA?” and I remember writing back, “I have not heard anything yet – but yes, I would accept the internship if offered it.” A former roommate interned there last summer and he said that there were like 100 interns from BLS at KCDA.  I had a friend from University of Michigan come in to intern there.  It would have been great – but I cannot say that it would have been as fun as NYCTA).  By April 6, I knew I would be working there.
                So 1Ls: Relax.  If you don’t know what you’re doing by May, you may still get an unexpected last minute offer from KCDA if you applied for that a couple months back….
                2Ls: I don’t know how we’re supposed to feel at this point.  I will say I have noticed two trends: (1) Overall, more 2Ls have internships at this time than we had as 1Ls last year; and (2) If we do not have an internship by now, we are freaking out a little bit more than last year.  My theory is that, with each year, securing summer employment becomes more difficult—but for those that do secure employment, they secure it earlier each year.  Thus, increased anxiety at earlier points is only natural for those of us that don’t. 
                3Ls: If you don’t know what you’re doing after the summer yet….um……I really don’t think I’m in any place to offer you any advice, except to say (1) I won’t be surprised if I’m in the same position as you this time, next year; and (2) if you’re under 30, don’t worry so much–you’ve got time.  Oh, and start planning for bankruptcy, and a killer argument that you suffered an undue hardship and therefore deserve a discharge of your student loans – join that class-action, or start a new proceeding and remember your basics on collateral estoppel from civil procedure.
                Christopher J. Knorps is a 2L at Brooklyn Law School.  He is Treasurer of the Health Law & Policy Association, and would like to invite you to its Open Mic event on April 5.  Please e-mail Christopher.knorps@brooklaw.edu if you are interested in reading or performing.   


Anonymous said...

"You may still get an unexpected last minute offer from KCDA if you applied for that a couple of months back" LOL@that.

As usual, I have to disagree with some of what you're saying. I think getting *a* job for the summer is enormously easier for 2ls than 1ls, at least if you're one of those 1ls coming into law school with little or no relevant experience to grace your resume come spring semester. Judging from personal experience and my observation of people who got semester and summer internship offers often without even applying or interviewing at all, just by word of mouth, once you got a little relevant experience under your belt, (unpaid) jobs just keep coming.

I think the challenge for 2ls is not so much securing *any* summer internship, it is more about securing a summer internship that will give you the best possible experience, the most opportunities, etc. Basically, my argument is that getting any summer internship post-1l only gets easier. Getting a great summer internship post 1-l yr gets only harder, because presumably, by now you need to get the kind of summer internship that reflects where you (ideally) want to see yourself after graduation. So, even though I think it gets easier, in a different way, it also get harder.

And, another challenge that I think some 2ls face that's mopre logistical in nature is starting their job search later than they did their 1l yr. I know I almost fell into that trap this yr, although it ended up working in the end. The 2l yr being that much more busy than 1l I think just lends itself to applying late and thus having to face greater competition with fewer opportunities.

JK said...

You make valid points and bring greater clarity to the more subtle implications of this process. I wholeheartedly agree with your viewpoint, but I must defend myself by saying that 750 Words is sometimes not enough space to address the intricacies of so many different situations. In a way it does get easier...but also harder. Your comment adds an important qualification to my argument, and I appreciate it. Thank you for reading and responding.