Since I just received my job offer early this Monday and will not be starting my new position until Wednesday, it may seem a bit soon to reach any grand, sweeping conclusions about my job search. That said, I think that my search taught me some things that could be of use to those of you who are looking for jobs, specifically people with law degrees.
1) Networking: I can only speak for myself when I say that networking is beyond crap. The conventional wisdom says that networking is the golden rule of job-hunting. Making connections, meeting their connections, getting your business card/resume out there, etc. For me, connections did absolutely nothing. The only connection that produced any result was my husband's former coworker. And all that ended up getting me was an offer for an unpaid internship. Think of it this way: in a difficult job market like this one, basically no one has any job security. Why are they going to stick their neck out for a friend of a friend, someone they might not know very well personally and whose work product they probably don't know at all? I can't even blame them for it. Maybe networking was more valuable when the economy was better. Or maybe if you are looking for an unpaid internship someone will go out on a limb for you. But that's not the climate right now, and I can't say that shocks me.
2) Law degrees for non-legal jobs: I was able to get this job, a non-legal job doing research, writing and social media for an organization, despite the fact that I have a law degree. I don't know exactly what the interviewers thought about the law degree, but they did ask about it. Every single person who interviewed me asked me about the law degree, why I have it, why I am not seeking an attorney position, and how the skills might translate. My point is that even if some of the stigma of the J.D. is starting to dissipate (and I don't necessarily think that it is), it is still a liability you will have to address. So come up with a good explanation for why you went, what made you change your mind about the legal field, and how you plan on using the skill set. Keep the tone as positive as you can. For me, it is difficult to sound positive when discussing the law and the legal profession. But I did the best I could and I think it helped.
3) Interviews: I can honestly say that the best thing that happened for me in terms of getting this job was the fact that I interviewed for a virtually identical job earlier this summer. Some of you might recall that I went all the way through the interview process at another organization this summer. I did multiple rounds and submitted a writing exercise. While I did not get the position, I learned from the questions exactly what employers in this field look for in a candidate. I even learned something from the tone of their questions about the law degree. Interviewing makes you a better interviewer, so if you get an offer for an interview you should take it, even if it is not a position you think you would want to accept.
But the most important thing...
4) Don't Give Up: We all went to college and law school or graduate school because we ARE intelligent, hard-working people with something to offer an employer and society in general. Trolls, shills and apologists come on these blogs and try to make us feel bad about ourselves. As if it is our fault that we were taken in at a young age by a huge scam. As if we caused the economic collapse that left us with few job prospects and crippling debt. I'm all for personal accountability. But the people who come here and scream about personal accountability in the comments section are here because they thrive on making other people feel insecure and bad about themselves. I'm no psychologist, but I can tell you this: DON'T internalize this portrayal of the young, indebted and unemployed. Our only crimes were not being born with independent wealth and believing that education was the key to success. Keep applying for jobs, keep going on interviews, keep looking for openings. You will find something eventually. You will, of course, have good days and bad days during the process. I certainly did. Have someone to vent to: a friend, a significant other, a family member. And, if you are sick of venting to those people, send me an email. I'm always like to commiserate.
Best of luck everyone! And as I said in my prior post, I will still be blogging. Exposing the higher education scam is just as important as ever, and I will be here doing my part as long as I can.