A note on networking

Below is an unedited email conversation which occurred after the Bowen Career Services Office received a thank-you letter from a new graduate several years ago. The new, top-ranked graduate had just found employment about a month after passing the Bar Exam.

Dean Kinsey (the former Assistant Dean of Career Services) wrote:

“****, congratulations!  I just got your letter, and I must tell you how much I appreciate you for taking the time to write such a complimentary letter and for detailing your self-planned job search versus a job search focused on self-assessment and networking. I am so pleased at how great everything has turned out for you. The things you shared (in the letter) confirm what I believe to be the best approach when dealing with legal employers who don’t participate in OCIs or openly announce when they are hiring!

“With your permission, I want to re-write the letter to third-year students still in the job search and include some of your comments. It is hard to sell the idea of networking to people because answering job announcements in the newspaper is such the norm. My hope is your story (incognito, of course) will inspire others to know it can work.”

The alum wrote in response:

“You are certainly welcome, and please feel free to use my anonymous comments for others. But yes, I completely underestimated networking, and I didn’t realize the things I liked about it, and I didn’t realize I was better at it than what I thought. The most dangerous part of relying on only posted openings was that it gave me a false sense of ‘doing something.’ As I waited for weeks and weeks with no response, I fell into an unhealthy depression and believed I was powerless to make anything good happen.

“Looking back, I can compare my job search to searching for a person to date. I would never dream of answering a personal ad in the newspaper looking for a girlfriend, but there I was every week with classified ads sending out dozens of resumes, looking for full time work from people that were perfect strangers to me. The best way to find both a job and a date is to simply let the people that you know help you in your search, and someone will just ‘come along.’

“So again, I am very happy with things now and with what I’ve learned. I have eight clients in my first few days, so I am busy getting good experience (even though not all of them seem to want to pay for my services, but that’s another lesson). Meanwhile, the owner of my firm believes he may possibly be appointed to a judge position here in ***. If that happens, this firm may well close for him to pursue that opportunity, and I will have to start again. But even then, I know my new job search will be so much easier now that I know how to approach it. Plus, I will have good practice experience, a list of existing clients, and the good credential of having been mentored by the new judge!”