Published June 1, 2020
The University of Buffalo School of Law Alumni Association has begun hosting a series of webinars to address some of the concerns and challenges related to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, many students are wondering the same thing: how am I going to find a job in these unprecedented times?
In response, UB Law invited several graduates who faced a similar challenge following the 2008 housing crisis to come speak on their experience and share advice with the students of today.
In case you missed the webinar, here are 3 key pieces of alumni advice that the guests unanimously agreed upon, based on their individual experiences.
One of the biggest points the guest speakers made was that stepping into an uncertain job market is only going to be more difficult if your expectations are not managed. Finding the same opportunities you may have strived for prior to COVID-19 could prove to be more difficult than they would have been before.
However, it is important to note that the alumni also agreed that this shouldn’t deter young professionals in the law industry from reaching for their goals, but rather simply making them aware that there may be some extra steps to take before they can cross that finish line.
For instance, many law students who were closing in on graduation at the time of the housing crisis had already secured positions and then found that their offers had been rescinded due to economic hardships of the companies. Instead of allowing this to hold them back, the alumni all agreed that setbacks like that should be seen as an opportunity to forge a new path.
For some, this might mean working at a firm that may not have been their first choice, but will provide experience that will be valuable when it becomes time to move forward professionally. For others, it meant seeking out positions at businesses that may not have primarily been law firms, but would appreciate the insight and experience of an employee with a law degree.
More than most, the alumni on this panel know what it means to be on the brink of graduating from law school with little-to-no job prospects on the horizon - especially not the kind they had planned their law school career around.
However, this didn’t stop them from grinding hard to try and make their careers what they wanted them to be, and neither should you.
One of the biggest pieces of advice that several of the alumni shared was that a law degree is so unique because it is going to hold value in countless industries, as well as with companies that aren’t primarily law-based.
Every company has legal needs, so if you can’t find a position in the specific area of law that you’re looking for, you have the felxibility of finding a position that may be somewhat unconventional, and give you great work experience.
The alumni also noted that it is understandable that someone (especially right out of law school) would need to find work to support themselves financially, but if you are able to accept volunteer or internship positions, you may be able to network while gaining valuable work experience. If you demonstrate that you are a hard worker, you may be considered before other for an opening the organization may have.
Though the featured alumni had a significant amount of advice to share, easily the most unanimous and emphasized point they made was that the best thing you can do for yourself when searching for a job is to network.
Developing connections with professionals in your industry (or an industry you would like to be in) is how you will open doors for yourself in the future.
With networking, you will be giving your future-self the gift of insight into opening positions, mutual connections to the “right” people, and a map of potential references to help you move forward in your career when the opportunity arises.
Another massive point made was that right now, a LOT of the country - as well as other countries - are still in quarantine, or at least socially distancing themselves. This presents a rare opportunity in which higher-up professionals in your industry likely have some extra time on their hands, so now is possibly the best time to reach out and ask for advice. All of the alumni pointed out that they would be more than happy to respond to emails, schedule a call, or just have an introductory chat to form a connection.
The important thing to remember is that a difficult job market will not be that way forever, so it will only benefit you to continue working hard and pushing yourself through these - and any other - difficult times. That way, you can build a foundation that will support you and bring better opportunities your way once the hard times are through.
For more information on how to navigate law school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the UB Law Admissions Blog!