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Balancing Academics with Your Job Search

Even in the best of economic times (the roaring 90s), finding your ideal summer legal job or permanent legal job is challenging.  With the current economy traditional legal summer and permanent jobs are less plentiful and the job-hunting atmosphere much more competitive.  The result is that searching for a job can consume more and more time, eating into the valuable time that should be devoted to academics.

As with practically every aspect of law school, planning is an important key to successfully balancing academics and searching for employment.   Planning for the summer should have begun before the fall semester or early in the fall semester.  The fall semester is often the time when the majority of employers visit law schools or plan initial interviews and call back interviews at their offices.  However, it is not unusual for many students to continue their job search into the Spring.  It is also not unusual for graduates to continue to seek full-time employment after the end of the school year.  Yes, the job search and academic work often run hand in hand throughout almost the entire school year.  So how do you plan to successfully manage both?

As the Spring semester winds down and exams inch closer, it is important to not become more stressed out if you are still looking for summer or permanent employment.  Instead, plan.  Determine everything that you must do between now and the end of the school year in order to do your best with all of the end of the school year work:  class preparation, papers and finals.  Also, determine what you need to do to stay on top of your job search.  Calendar everything.  Schedule time for study and job search.   Keep the following in mind as you plan and schedule.

  1. Time is Limited. Now that we are near the end of the semester, quarter and school year, you need to allocate your time somewhat differently than you would in September or January.  The time you spend on academics must increase.  The time you spend on your job search may need to decrease.
  2. Academics Should Not Suffer. While finding employment is important for obvious reasons, it is equally important, and perhaps at this stage in your career, more important to maintain a strong academic record. Remember, employers do value grades– particularly if you do not yet have a strong work background.
  3. Use your Time Differently. Use the time that you spend on your job search differently.  Your search should be a lot more targeted than it might have been earlier in the school year.  You have to focus not only on the type of job you want, but you have to figure out  which employers are still looking.
  4. Maintain Balance. Yes, this is a lot easier said than done.  Sure, you will likely have to maintain a tough schedule in order to succeed academically and find a job.   However, in order to maintain that schedule, you must take care of self.  As you plan and rewrite your schedule, do not cut back significantly on activities that help you stay healthy and reduce stress.  Continue to jog or go to the gym.  Putting your books down and watching a movie or going out to dinner with friends may result in your feeling refreshed as you refocus on schoolwork.
  5. Talk to the Experts. Chat with a tutor or professor about your situation.  They will have tips and resources for helping you finish the school year strong and land a job.  And definitely keep on top of the resources offered by your career counseling office.  Your career counselor will be able to offer you strategies on finding a job regardless of the time of year.





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