How many 1L summer internships should you apply for?

This time of year, I hear this question a lot and it makes sense. You want to make sure you land a great 1L summer gig and so you want to get enough applications out there to make that a reality. So what is the right number of job applications to send out?

The answer is 51.

Just kidding!

The answer is I have no idea.

How do I not know? I have been a career counselor at Notre Dame Law School for 5 1/2 years. Shouldn’t I have figured this out by now?

Let me make an analogy for you. What if someone came up to you and asked how many dates do they need to go on to meet their husband or wife? What would you say? Of course, you’d have no idea!

The reason you wouldn’t be able to answer that question is the reason I can’t answer this question.

You’ll get a 1L summer job when you get a 1L summer job and you need to keep sending out applications until it happens.

Plus, your success will vary based on the types of employers you’re applying for. If you only apply to 60 1L Diversity positions at firms, those are the Ryan Goslings of the world and you may get no responses at all, even though you sent out 60 different applications, which seems like a lot. On the other hand, if you apply to just three judges with strong connections to Notre Dame, you could end up getting 3 offers because those judges love ND and really want to hire NDLS students.

And if you’re submitting mad libs cover letters, you are less likely to get interviews than students who are taking the time to write tailored, personalized cover letters.

Tons of factors go into who gets hired for a particular internship and you can’t bank on any one opportunity so you just have to keep submitting applications.

At the end of the day, be comforted by the fact that I have never once seen a 1L who wanted a legal summer job not get one. The reason is obvious: most of the jobs are unpaid and organizations are dying for unpaid interns to help them with the work!

So I can’t give you a magic number but I can tell you to keep a nice organized spreadsheet of all the jobs you’re applying for, be very active in applying for jobs now (in January and February), apply for a wide variety of employers and not just the most competitive positions in big law firms and corporations, write personalized cover letters for each and every job you apply for, and have an error free, detailed resume. Before you know it, a wonderful 1L summer opportunity will be yours!


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