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Law Students: Law School Survivor
What to do between semesters
By Tyler Larsen
This is one of the major conundrums of every 1L. What should you do between the semesters? The biggest thing to do is RELAX. You just spent the last couple weeks cramming, so you definitely need a little time to unwind. Catch up with family, write some emails to people you have been neglecting, balance the check book; these are all things that you can get back in order and use to help get your mind off the stresses you just went through.
Then, after you have relaxed a little, jump back into the fray. Start thinking about internships and such. If your school is anything like mine, then grades wont come out until you're into the second semester, so it is hard to try to put your name out there for internship opportunities if you are worried about how you did. I suggest not worrying about this too much. Make and honest evaluation of yourself, if you feel somewhat confident then don't worry. Start looking for those rings in which to throw your name.
Here is what I did. I knew of a few places where my background would be particularly helpful. I figured that even if I didn't get the number one spot in the class rankings, I would still have a decent shot at getting selected for an internship. I looked carefully at what I wanted to do for the next summer, and how I could help them and how they could help me. I did not worry about being paid. It was more important for me to find somewhere that I could get the experience I need and offer at least some of the qualifications that organization needed. Then I followed the application process listed on the website(s).
Also, a useful tool would be your school's Career Development Center. If you have one that is like ours then there is a website with lots of useful information. Some will have actual internships listed and who can apply for them, application procedures, deadlines, and that kind of information. There may also be general listings of employers. This can help if you know of a particular firm/organization you would like to apply to. Don't forget to make use of the people who staff that office also, they are there to help you with interviewing, resume writing, job hunting tips etc. Just remember to use all of the tools your school has available.
Another thing to do over the break is look for money. I'm not talking about in the couch cushions or the floor boards of your car. I'm talking scholarship money. There are lots of scholarship opportunities out there once you have begun law school, they're not all only for newly entering students. Most of them are going to require writing. I have found several that are 10, 15 or even more pages in required length. During the break may be a good time to find these, brainstorm ideas, and begin researching and organizing for the writing process. You could pave the way for thousands of dollars in scholarships for the second year with well planned and executed papers.
Don't forget volunteer opportunities. Christmas/New Years is a busy time for many organizations, and they need extra help. You can volunteer with charity organizations which would help to make your resume stand out. You might also look at local firms, DA offices, PD offices etc., which may allow for volunteers during this time. As long as they know you have only finished one semester, they wont expect you to know how to file and defend a case on day one. But you might also gain some valuable knowledge and experience to set you apart from your peers. And after all, that is the key. Employers see a sea of resumes that fade to gray and you want yours to be that beacon that draws their attention.
DONT FORGET TO RELAX. More stress is coming in the next semester, so be prepared and do some "me time" during the break.
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