This blog post is part of our ongoing guest Blog Series: “Opportunity Knocks.” For a full schedule, please see: http://law.scu.edu/lcs-blog/upcoming-blog-series-opportunity-knocks/
When I began law school I knew that I wanted to practice Environmental Law but I was worried about getting my dream internship because I had no prior experience in the practice area. I nonetheless applied for PIPS day my 1L year. To my dismay I received no interviews. I attended the career fair anyways hoping to find how I could improve my resume so that next year I could earn a coveted interview slot. At the very least it was an excuse to take a break from Heafey Library and spend the day in San Francisco.
I arrived at the event and discovered that it was divided into three segments: public interest employers in one room, public sector employers in another room, and interviews in various classrooms around the Hastings campus. Although you can apply for interview slots early, many organizations do not fill all of their slots and students drop out, so you can arrive early and sign up for an interview the day of the event. Interested in practicing my interviewing skills, I signed up for an open interview slot with an organization that I had no interest in and no knowledge about. It was awkward, yes, but it was a great opportunity to practice talking about myself, ask questions, and learn about a new organization.
Next, I braved the employers’ tables with my stack of resumes. I was immediately intimidated by the hordes of eager students crowded around the tables. I managed to push through and chat with some of the organizations that I was interested in working for. There were many opportunities to apply for summer internships but the best opportunities came from the advice that I received from employers. I asked, “What are you looking for on a potential intern’s resume?” and “What can I do this year so that I am a contender for a position in the future?” I took notes, collected these answers, and set them as goals for myself.
I did not receive a job from PIPS as a 1L, but as a 2L I was prepared. I had loaded my resume with the necessary qualifications and when I applied for interviews I was fortunate enough to get an interview with the California Coastal Commission. At this point I had experience in the field and could articulate the unique skills that I could offer to the Coastal Commission. To my delight, I received the summer internship and I am now on the track to full-time employment after law school.
So my advice for the 1L who is interested in public interest, public service, and particularly environmental law is to put yourself out there. Talk to employers about positions that you might not be qualified for yet, interview for positions in areas of law that you might not be interested in, and approach the event with an open mind and eagerness to learn. Good luck!
Natalie Kirkish is currently earning her J.D. at Santa Clara University School of Law as a member of the Class of 2014. She participated in PIPS day in 2012 and in 2013. In 2013 she obtained a summer clerkship at the California Coastal Commission, in the Statewide Enforcement Division. She is available for questions at email@example.com.