Preparing for the 1L Job Search

zaleskiby James Zaleski, Class of 2019

We are officially two months into the second semester, and the summer job search for the 1L class is well underway! While the 1L class is still busy as ever with our classes and the moot court competition, we also must make a commitment each week towards our job search. A summer legal internship is an invaluable opportunity for students to gain real legal experience, improve their legal research and writing skills, and explore different practice areas.

The Office of Career Services (OCS) has been a tremendous help during this ongoing process. Towards the end of the first semester, all 1Ls had individual meetings with their OCS Dean to discuss career interests and develop individualized action plans for securing summer internships. The OCS Deans have been very accessible and helpful in preparing 1Ls for the application and interview process. I have sent cover letters to OCS for review, and each time I received prompt and invaluable edits and feedback which I have incorporated into my applications. OCS also hosts different job workshops for 1Ls throughout the year. Shortly after returning from winter break, OCS hosted an important 1L Interviewing Skills Workshop where they discussed interview strategies, analyzed common mistakes, and detailed what employers value in an interview. As a part of this workshop, we had the opportunity to develop strategies for answering those tough interview questions and practice with our fellow classmates.

Directory Page TitleIn late January, OCS hosted a mandatory mock interview program for all 1Ls. Every first-year student was paired with a William & Mary Law School alumnus or alumna who played the part of an employer interviewing candidates for a summer internship. Approximately twenty minutes of the appointment was for mock interviewing and approximately ten minutes was discussion time for feedback. Students were paired up with an alumnus/alumna who is working in one of their desired practice areas. I am interested in securing employment in the national security field, and I had the privilege of interviewing with Michael Dick, Class of ’06, who currently works for the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of International Affairs. I appreciated the opportunity to practice my interviewing skills, receive good feedback, and gain some more insight into the Department of Justice. This event highlights the strong community that exists here at William & Mary Law School and the dedication our alumni have to the school and to the continued success of our students. I am confident in my job search, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have the support of so many people here at William & Mary Law School.

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1L Mock Interview Program

borkby Emily Bork, Class of 2018

After a few weeks of settling in to the Spring semester, it seems like there’s one thing on all 1L minds…summer jobs and internships. The 1L summer job hunt is officially upon us! With the job search comes a lot of preparation of resumes, cover letters, and writing samples, but there’s another critical aspect to the application process, and that is the ever-so-important interview. I, like many of my classmates, find the thought of interviewing pretty intimidating and nerve-wracking. For example, there’s the fear of not giving the type of answer the employer is looking for or not being able to answer the questions in a professional, yet approachable way. However, William & Mary’s Office of Career Services (OCS) provides a wonderful opportunity to all 1Ls during this time of year—the annual Mock Interview Program.

OCS invites William & Mary alumni to come to campus one Friday every year in January to sit with 1Ls one-on-one and conduct mock job interviews. Students are paired up with alumni based on our career and practice area preferences, and the program allows each and every member of the 1L class to practice their interview skills with William & Mary graduates. Not only is this an amazing chance to brush up on any weak areas of interviewing, but it also gives students an opportunity to meet practicing attorneys in our areas of interest and to continue networking and building professional relationships.

The alumni also provide us with live feedback right after the interview as we discuss both the strengths and possible areas for improvement. This advice is truly invaluable as it allows us truly perfect our skills so that we will nail a real job interview and be prepared to tackle any tough questions that might come our way.

Due to my interest in public service employers, I was paired up with an alum who works with the Virginia Legal Aid Society. Although I was pretty nervous ahead of time, I quickly felt at ease at the beginning of the mock interview as we both spoke about our experiences at William & Mary. My interviewer provided me with some really helpful feedback. Here are some of the main highlights to remember for your future interviews:

  • The interview, while formal, is really just a conversation. Don’t be afraid to keep a professional, yet approachable and conversational tone.
  • Make sure to emphasize the employer’s mission statement or goals and integrate them in to your responses. Show the employer that you are passionate about the work they do.
  • Always send a thank you e-mail or handwritten note after the interview. The employer will remember you by this positive, appreciative follow-up.

After participating in the mock interview program this past Friday, I was reminded of not only how dedicated OCS is to our success, but also of the dedication of our alumni. The fact that so many alumni took time out of their busy schedules to come to the law school in order to speak and meet with us individually speaks for itself. I couldn’t be prouder to be a William & Mary student, and I look forward to the day when I too will be among the amazing William & Mary alumni community.

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1L Interviewing, Part 1: The Alumni Mock Interview Program

brownby Cathy Brown, Class of  2017

Have you ever felt nervous before an interview?  One of my college friends was always petrified of the interview process, afraid of embarrassing herself or being unable to think of an appropriate answer to a tricky question on the spot.  Consequently, I’ve been involved with quite a few mock interviews over the past few years, posing as the interviewer the night before her meeting to help her practice and allay her fears.

This semester, however, I had the opportunity to practice honing my own interviewing skills when the Legal Practice Program partnered with the law school’s Office of Career Services (OCS) for the Alumni Mock Interview Program.  This program began with representatives from OCS giving a presentation on interviewing techniques in every 1L’s Legal Practice class.  In class the following week, we watched some demonstration videos illustrating examples of successful interviews and those that missed the mark.  After watching the clips, we had the opportunity to critique them as a class.  We also split into pairs and practiced interviewing with a classmate so we could practice fielding difficult questions in a friendly atmosphere.

Finally, the program culminated on January 30th, when each member of the 1L class was assigned to have a mock interview with a William & Mary Law School alum.  To make the experience as rewarding as possible, the Office of Career Services assigned students to an interviewer from a field that matches our potential legal interests.  For example, I’m tentatively interested in practicing family and elder law at a small firm, and my alumni interviewer – who started his own small firm – specialized in juvenile dependency.  To make conditions as realistic as possible, students were asked to dress professionally and conduct some preliminary research on the interviewer’s work.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous before going into my interview; however, my interviewer was extremely friendly and clearly excited to be back at his alma mater, helping to train the next generation of lawyers.  After a nice twenty-five minute conversation and a few minutes of helpful feedback, he sent me on my way, feeling more confident in my ability to be professional and express myself in the interview setting.

This mock interview program couldn’t have come at a better time, since my classmates and I are beginning to be called in to interview for summer internship positions.  Next week, for example, I head to Richmond for an interview at the Government & Public Interest Interview Program (expect an update on that in my next blog post!).  Although I’m sure I’ll still have butterflies in my stomach before the interview, at least I can go into the program knowing that William & Mary has given me a unique opportunity to develop interviewing skills, and has given me the tools I need to succeed.

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Mock Interviews– Connecting 1Ls with Alumni

liz berryby Liz Berry, Class of 2016

It’s interview season for 1L’s and the pressure is on. For 1L’s straight out of undergrad (like yours truly) interviews with potential legal employers are a whole new world. And frankly, slightly daunting. I’m fairly certain in my first interview, I forgot my first name. I believe the interview went something like: You want to know my name and why I wanted to go to law school? Um, those are very good questions. Let me get back to you on that…

And what’s the best way to overcome interview jitters (and remember your name)? Practice, practice, practice. I’ve found that the more interviews I’ve done over the past month or so, the more confident I’ve become. The Office of Career Services had been so helpful in prepping for interviews. I’ve worked with my Dean about how to answer certain questions and, best of all, OCS set up an entire Mock Interview Day. W&M Law alumni from various legal fields were invited to campus on Friday morning, and any 1L who signed up had a “mock” but very real feeling interview with someone in a field they were interested in.

My interview was with an Assistant Attorney General of Virginia (which was perfect, since I’m interning with the Ohio Attorney General this summer. Good work matching us up, OCS).  And while this time I didn’t forget my first name, my interviewer asked some hard questions for which I was slightly unprepared. And honestly, I think that was the best thing that could have happened. I learned how to think on my toes, and the feedback I received after the interview ended gave me a better idea of ways to answer when I’m unprepared. My interviewer spent at least fifteen minutes giving me advice on how to give better answers, and how to better present myself in the future. (Sorry to the person who was interviewing after me…I was so caught up in chatting with my interviewer we may have blown past the 30 minute mark. But really, doesn’t that just show how much our alumni are willing to help? Love it.)

Overall, I think the practice interview was a very valuable experience. Interviews can only get easier from here on out…or at least I’ll be more comfortable with them. And that’s all I can ask for.

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