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How will an extra semester in school affect my ability to get a summer job?

By Edward Honnold

Q: I'm a rising 2L who is also pursuing a master's degree in labor and industrial relations. The LIR degree will take an extra semester to complete, making my expected graduation date 12/03 instead of 5/03 like the rest of my class. I've been told by career services personnel not to participate in fall on-campus interviewing, as firms are looking for people who can do one summer, and then begin work right after the bar exam the following year. In other words, I still have two summers remaining (and thus could not begin work after that second summer as I will have to come back for one more semester of school). Career services is arguing that I should not participate because firms will see that I have two summers to go and will necessarily 1. not hire me and 2. hold it against me that I did not follow the advice some firms gave to career services to hold dual degree people out of fall on-campus interviewing. From my perspective, I paid my dues in not being able to participate in on-campus as a 1L, and want to have the same chance to interview this semester as my 2L classmates. It seems to me that a firm would not hold it against me that I participated in the fall, as long as I'm up front (it's on my resume!) about the fact that I'm graduating a semester later than other 2L's. What do you think? Should I participate and risk looking like someone who "doesn't follow career services' directions", or would I just be shooting myself in the foot by not participating and making contact with as many firms as possible in the fall, and letting them make the decision individually of whether they can contemplate investing two summers in me (as many firms do anyway when they hire exceptional 1L's)? Thanks.

A: I can understand your frustration in being asked to wait another year before interviewing for summer clerkships. Though it seems somewhat perilous to sign up against the advice of your career service personnel, my instinct would be to go ahead and try. The results will probably depend on the experience and quality of your credentials as reflected on your resume. I think it is always an advantage for an applicant to widen contacts as much as possible. I would expect you have more to gain than to lose by moving forward now. Good luck.

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