Ultra Vires


No Job? No Problem!

Comforting words from a 2L who did everything wrong in her 1L job search

Hi, 1L friends! I hope everyone isn’t too stressed, but I do remember this time last year being kind of terrible. There was the 1L recruit, LSSEP applications, actual classes and readings (who is she?), and all anyone could talk about was what they were doing for the summer.

I just want to give a perspective that will hopefully let you breathe a little easier. TLDR—it’ll all be fine, don’t be too hard on yourself, just keep working away at things. Take it from someone who did literally everything wrong in their job hunt last year and is still doing just fine. 

This time last year, I had never written a cover letter. Never. Not once. In high school, I worked as a deli counter clerk at the finest (read: only) Polish deli in Bolton, Ontario, slicing deli meat after school. Throughout undergrad, I worked as a waitress at the same restaurant for 4 years.  

This time last year, I had never done a formal job interview. Unless you count my two-minute sit down with my boss at the Polish deli which featured exactly THREE questions—(1) are you legally allowed to work in Canada? (Yes); (2) can you work weekends? (Also, yes); and (3) are you Polish? (My mom is). I suppose you could also count my interview to be a server—see questions (1) and (2) above. 

All this to say, I had no experience, no idea what I was doing and, despite being in fancy U of T Law, I felt very underqualified. I remember sending the CDO my resume for them to look over and having them ask, with a sad glint in their eye, “is there anything else you could put on this?” The answer was, unfortunately, no. 

Last year, though I planned on applying for the 1L recruit, I didn’t end up submitting any applications. I rationalized this by saying it was because I didn’t want to work at a full-service firm, but really, I was just feeling discouraged and overwhelmed. 

I told myself I would get organized for LSSEP applications. I put together some cover letters and tried to fix up my resume; I submitted applications for maybe 10 jobs and heard nothing back. 

I kept applying throughout the rest of the school year as jobs would get posted on UTLC, but before applying for my first post-LSSEP job, I sent my roommate my cover letter to get her thoughts. Exactly two minutes later she sent back “typo, first sentence.” Yikes. No wonder I wasn’t hearing back from anywhere.

By the end of the school year, I still hadn’t heard back from anywhere but had to find a job for the time being. I spent the first two months of my 1L summer working as a server at the Madison Avenue Pub (seriously, ask me about it…I have stories). I thought about just giving up my job search, but I really didn’t want to spend the entire summer serving again and wanted to try working in law. So, I kept applying to everything that got posted. I ended up getting a few interviews in May, but ultimately wasn’t chosen for the jobs…until I was!

Near the end of June, The Globe and Mail posted an ad for a two-month position as an intern in their legal department. I applied, interviewed, and was hired! Around the same time, an individual I’d interviewed with for a research position earlier in the summer—who didn’t hire me at the time—contacted me about some new work he needed someone for. I went from months of hearing “no” to getting two quick yeses. 

Apply to the positions even if you don’t think you’re qualified. Do the interviews even if you find the process stressful. The worst thing that can happen is that you have to sit through a really awkward conversation that you can laugh about with your friends later. You never know who might remember you later for other jobs, and all it takes is one person to say yes to help you get the ball rolling.

Some people might absolutely disagree with me about this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I think a huge part of landing your first job in a new field is luck—the right time, right place, right day, and right interviewer. At least this is what I told myself to deal with being rejected from so many jobs last year. But I’m going to say it to you too. Don’t take not getting hired personally. Just keep applying because you never know what’s going to stick. 

Finally, your 1L summer is not indicative of how your 2 or 3L summers will look. So let go of that stress. Things ended up going better for me in the 2L recruit probably because I learned so much about what not to do in 1L. Best of luck guys, be kind to yourselves, and get a friend to proofread your cover letter! No matter what happens this summer, I promise everything will be just fine.

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