GUEST BLOG Makenzie Way,
1L at the University of Pennsylvania Law School
Law school exams are winding down, suitcases are being packed, and all seems good within the life of a 1L.
The end of the semester is an exciting time, not only are you finished with your brutal exams and one year closer to graduation, you’re also about to begin your first summer job as a legal associate! With all that excitement on the go, it’s easy to overlook OCI; and while you certainly don’t need to stress about OCI in early May, by June it should be on your mind.
Just how should you prepare for OCI during the summer you ask? Of course, preparations will vary according to your circumstances. For instance, if you’re in your target area this summer you may want to start reaching out to firms before OCI, the same logic applies if you’re aiming for a small market. However, particularities aside, there are a few starting points for every 1L who plans to participate in OCI
I really cannot stress how important mock interviews are to your success. I recently participated in an on-campus mock interview program where they brought in alumni from a variety of firms. Through this program I not only got a sense of what I needed to do to prepare for interviews (i.e. how long it takes to print resumes, order transcripts, etc.), I also got great feedback from my interviewers on what I did well, and what I could work to improve upon. If you don’t have the opportunity to do a mock interview with someone from a firm, I suggest reaching out to your career planning office to see if they offer mock interviewing in-person or over the phone, or if push comes to shove, recruit a friend or family member to serve as an interviewer.
One thing that came up in both of my mock interviews were tiny issues with my resume, and by tiny, I mean anything from formatting to a single missing comma. Unbeknownst to many, the majority of career planning offices offer resume review services free of charge! While they may not have a template that calls out to you, once you craft what you believe to be a perfect resume, send it off to them for the final once over.
Research, Research, RESEARCH
Emphasis on the research. Gone are the days when you could waltz into an interview and sell them on your capabilities without basically internet stalking the interviewer and their organization. Not only do OCI interviewers want to see that you’re competent and excelling in law school, they also want to see that you have an honest interest in their firm – after all, why waste their time on you if you’re not going to give them the time of day? For interviewing I’d say start with the legal basics:
Chambers and Associates: for a quick overview of the firm, covering everything from billable hours, to quotes from managing partners.
Website Browse: Make sure you know the firm’s website inside and out. Don’t just read your interviewer’s bio. Take the time to read up on the practice areas you’re interested in, take note of recent cases they’ve worked on in those areas. Furthermore, make sure you know what their summer program, and entry-level associate programs look like – you do not want to ask questions in an interview that are clearly answered on the website.
Google Search: Use the firm’s name, plus an associate or trigger word to pull news stories, recent cases, and more!
Yes, attending networking events is great, but networking is more than firm sponsored happy hours. Utilize your school(s) alumni database to find alumni who work in the firms you’re targeting and reach out! Likewise, seek out 2L’s and 3L’s who have worked in those firms, or are going to those firm’s post-graduation and get the inside scoop on the firm and more specifically, the summer program.
NOTE: When you’re networking, keep track of who you talk to and what they say. You want to reference those people during your interviews, so it’s best not to leave it up to your memory alone.
Summer Job Essentials
Finally, during your summer you want to not only impress your employer so they either a) hire you back, or b) agree to serve as a reference, you also want to utilize your summer job for OCI purposes. First, you’re going to need a writing sample for OCI, so ask your employer early on if you can use one of your memo’s or briefs to satisfy this requirement. Second, keep track of the tasks you complete so you can reference them during interviews. Finally, incorporate your summer job tasks into your resume to make it more targeted to a legal audience.