It’s usually easy to get students excited about On Campus Interviewing! OCI is accessible, visible, relatively easy to participate in, and it generates a high buzz among students compared to other job search efforts every year. But, at many law schools, a large number of students do NOT find jobs through OCI – so, motivating students to expand their job searches beyond OCI and motivating them to do it early in their 2L summer is crucial!
How can career services offices motivate students to focus on other job search strategies, beyond OCI? Here are three proven methods:
1. Profile/Highlight alumni working in exciting practice areas in non-Big Law settings
Landing a job outside of big law usually takes more work, planning, and patience than landing a job through OCI. The process for landing a non-OCI job can seem nebulous – 2Ls may have no idea how to get started. Providing tangible examples of alumni who have successfully navigated this career path can demystify this option and have a huge impact.
Telling stories of alumni with interesting legal jobs in exciting practice areas will illustrate for students how they can launch successful careers outside of the OCI/big law process. It will also show them that there is plenty of ‘career action’ outside of big law and that many grads are doing really interesting work in a wide variety of contexts. The more you can drill down into the specifics of how these alumni got started on their career paths, the better.
2. Announce career fairs and official summer programs available to your students
As much as career offices understand the importance of networking and building a strong personal brand, students like to participate in official career fairs and they like to apply for positions in official summer programs. At law schools where OCI typically only leads to success for higher-GPA candidates, many students can start and/or end up feeling left out. A key way to overcome this is to highly publicize other career fairs and official summer programs that all students can participate in and apply for. If you announce these fairs and programs along with OCI Iinformation, students will see that there are an array of options open to them.
3. Emphasize non-OCI deadlines
If you have been working in Career Development for a while, the odds are that you have had a few students come into your office in October, having just realized they have struck out of the OCI process. They may be confused – or panicked – about what to do next. As eager as you may be to help these students, you all would be MUCH better off if only they had talked to you in July!
Get your students to engage earlier by making non-OCI deadlines a major point of emphasis for your office. Announce early and often that popular programs such as DOJ honors have a September deadline and that if students wait to see how OCI works out for them before taking action, it will be too late.
It can be a daunting task to capture the attention of 1Ls and rising 2Ls and to get them to FOCUS EARLY on (and EXECUTE) the job search steps that will help them land a suitable position for the summer. If you are looking for a new, low-touch tool for your 1L/2L toolbox, please ask how the LawFit Career Assessment has been helping our law school subscribers since 2014.