There is no doubt that OCI (early interview week, in particular) is the most visible way of securing a summer job. But don’t let that visibility convince you that it is the only way.
There are many summer opportunities providing incredibly interesting work in multiple practice areas, networking opportunities, and even the chance to get a post-graduation job but you cannot interview for these jobs at early interview week.
Here are 5 amazing job opportunities outside of OCI’s early interview week that real Notre Dame graduates took advantage of (and so can you!):
1. State Government:
Anne McKeon, NDLS 2015, landed a pretty cool job right out of law school She was the “Legal and Policy Advisor to Commissioner Sherina Maye Edwards” at the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The ICC is a a quasi-judicial tribunal which regulates public utility services in the state of Illinois and sets the rates and charges for service by public utilities. The ICC has five commissioners and Anne worked for one of them. In her work, Anne focused on exciting energy law issues, worked with CEOs of major companies like ComEd, and she worked within state government, working hard but in reasonable hours at a job that brought her tremendous satisfaction. Anne eventually left the ICC to join the Energy, Environment & Natural Resources practice group at Quarles & Brady, proof that you don’t need to land a big law job through OCI to eventually end up in big law.
How did she score this cool job? Anne knew she was more interested in working for government or a non-profit and that the big firm route would not be a great fit for her. Her 1L summer, she worked at the Chicago Legal Clinic, and then she pursued government jobs for her 2L summer. She created a list of all of the state government offices in Illinois and then applied to them, ultimately landing her 2L summer job at the ICC.
Anne did absolutely great work at the ICC that summer, impressing her bosses, and inspiring them to want to find a job for her. She stayed in consistent contact with the ICC throughout her 3L year; they provided her with networking opportunities as she updated them about how her year was going. When a position opened up at the ICC, she was the first person they called.
Anne spoke at NDLS during Public Interest Month at Notre Dame a couple of years ago and commented that she loved her job and was grateful she did not end up at a big firm because the ICC is such a great fit for her.
Are you interested in state government but not in Illinois? There are a wide variety of state government opportunities out there and we have tons of NDLS alumni employed in government offices throughout the country. Contact the CDO and we will guide you to them!
Don’t forget about local government opportunities as well. The Chicago Transit Authority, for example, has an amazing (paid!) 2L summer program.
If you want to get in touch with Anne directly to learn more about her career path and the ICC and Quarles & Brady email me at email@example.com and I will put you in touch.
2. Prosecutor’s Office:
Adam Zamora, NDLS 2016, started working as a Fellow at the Orange County District Attorney’s office after graduation. Adam began prosecuting misdemeanors and as he gains experience, he will eventually progress to having a full felony caseload.
How did Adam land this fellowship? Adam came to law school wanting to work for the government in some capacity in California. For his 1L summer, Adam compiled a list of government employers in Southern California, applied to many jobs, and ended up working for the Orange County District Attorney’s office. He really enjoyed the experience and decided to return for his second summer. To put it bluntly, Adam crushed it both summers he worked there. The office noticed his hard work and offered him the opportunity to apply for a post-graduate fellowship with them.
After two great summers, Adam knew he wanted to begin his career there after graduation but the application process for landing one of the offices’ ten fellowships is really competitive. Adam prepared with me and other CDO counselors in multiple mock interviews, talked to several attorneys in the Orange County DA’s office about the interview process, and seized every opportunity he could to practice and hone his interviewing skills. Adam successfully made his way through two difficult interviews, going above and beyond by traveling to Orange County for the interview when he was not required to do so because he knew an in-person interview made all of the difference in the world.
After law school, Adam began his dream job and got hands on experience prosecuting cases from day one. He got where he is by sending applications out, working his tail off over the summer, and putting the work in over the course of the interview process.
Are you interested in prosecutor opportunities but not in Orange County? There are many prosecutor opportunities out there and we have tons of NDLS alumni employed in prosecutor offices throughout the country, including in New York and Chicago. Contact the CDO and we will guide you to them!
3. Public Interest:
Rachael Winkler, NDLS 2015, started her career as a BOAF fellow at the International Institute of the Bay Area in Oakland, where she helped non-citizens seek a legal pathway to citizenship and completed Petitions for Non-immigrant Status and Violence Against Women Act self-petitions for undocumented survivors of domestic violence and other crimes. She was hired as a Staff Attorney there when her fellowship concluded.
How did Rachael start her public interest career in this role? Rachael was committed to pursuing a career in public interest law, specifically helping victims of domestic violence, from the moment she began school at Notre Dame. When pursuing her 1L summer job, she used PSJD to create a list of public interest organizations in the bay area that did domestic violence work, applied to all of them, and ended up at her current organization, the International Institute of the Bay Area.
After loving the work she did at IIBA during her 1L summer, Rachael pursued every public interest opportunity she could while in law school, including externing with the National Immigrant Justice Center and spending her 2L summer in Uganda through Notre Dame’s Program on Law and Human Development.
During Rachael’s third year, Notre Dame announced a new public interest fellowship, the Bank of America Foundation Fellowship, to be awarded to two excellent public-interest minded 3Ls, enabling them to create their own two-year public interest dream jobs at organizations of their choice. Rachael seized the opportunity. Given her commitment to serving immigrant populations, Rachael was a natural choice for the fellowship, was selected for it, and then was hired on as a Staff Attorney when her fellowship concluded.
If you want to get in touch with Rachael to learn more about her work at International Institute of the Bay Area, I am happy to put you directly in touch with her if you send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you interested in pursuing a public interest career? Almost none of these opportunities come about through OCI but there are a wide variety of public interest jobs out there and many NDLS alumni are employed as public interest lawyers. Check out the public interest section of the CDO website, psjd.org, and contact me.
4. Non-OCI Firm
Alex Shadley started his career as an Associate Attorney at Segal McCambridge, a 150 attorney firm headquartered in the Willis tower that has seven offices and represents Fortune 500 companies. While there, Alex litigated toxic tort and complex commercial litigation cases, regularly took depositions, drafted motions, and consulted with legal experts. He has built a very successful litigation practice where he got hands on experience and continued to move up in his firm. Alex has since moved on to Lewis Brisbois in Chicago.
But Alex did not land his private firm job through OCI. Instead, Alex build a strong network, especially with ND alumni, throughout Chicago that enabled him to get his job after passing the Illinois bar.
What did he do up to that point? Knowing he wanted to build his career in Chicago, Alex interned for a federal judge in Chicago his 1L summer and then worked for a small firm in Chicago his 2L summer. He continued working for his 2L summer firm after graduation, building his skills and resume, until he passed the bar. When I say Alex worked to build his network, I really mean it. He attended Notre Dame networking breakfasts, built and maintained strong relationships with Notre Dame alumni, and made it known that he was looking for a great litigation job. That set him up to successfully apply for his job at Segal McCambridge.
Are you interested in working for a private firm that does not interview at OCI? There are a wide variety of these jobs out there and many ND alumni employed in these positions. Contact the CDO and we will guide you to them!
5. Private Company
Stephanie Wiater is Senior Contract Counsel at the Walsh Group in Chicago, the largest construction firm in Chicago and one of the top 15 contractors. Stephanie began her career with The Walsh Group in 2013 as Contract Counsel and was promoted to Senior Contract Counsel at the beginning of 2016. Unsurprisingly given her job title, Stephanie reviews contracts for construction projects and works to ensure that all projects run smoothly. She made a very competitive salary upon leaving law school and loves working for this family-run company.
How did Stephanie start her career at the Walsh Group? Stephanie was not quite sure what she wanted to do when she started law school so she tried out a variety of opportunities, including the New Jersey Superior Court her 1L summer and the Rhode Island Public Defender her 2L summer. The Walsh Group interviewed on-campus, outside of early interview week and regular OCI, Stephanie interviewed with them, and landed the job.
Are you interested in working for a private company? There are many opportunities to work at companies over the summer, through the Chicago program, and through the corporate counsel externship program, and we have tons of NDLS alumni employed in companies throughout the country. Contact the CDO and we will guide you to them!