Wednesday, July 17, 2013

GUEST POST: My OCI Experience

We are very excited to start a guest post series where your fellow students and/or graduates can share their perspective.  If you would like to submit a blog post as a guest, please contact the office.  

First up, a recent graduate who was an evening student and successfully obtained a summer associate position with a large international firm.

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You may have just applied to firms on Symplicity for OCI. Now what? OCI can be a very daunting experience.  As someone who applied broadly to firms during OCI (just about every firm except those that required science or tax backgrounds), I wanted to share my experience and provide some tips on the interview process.

Relax! I know no matter how many times I was told to relax, it didn’t help.  But, it’s true.  Most of the firms I interviewed with were not trying to stump me with difficult questions. They just want to get a feel for you as a person, your personality and social skills. The more I relaxed, the better the interviews went for me. 

Applying to non-OCI firms. You should definitely apply to firms that do not participate in our on-campus interviews.  Although I received an offer from a firm through OCI, the offer I ultimately accepted came from a firm that did not interview on-campus. I used the NALP directory to research firms in the NJ/NY area and applied around the same time as the OCI application deadline.  I also applied to the firms that only did a resume collect through our OCI. If the firm you are interested in is not listed, you should still apply. Most firms will have a “Career” page on their website that will tell you how to submit your materials to them.

Read your email.  Firms may ask a student who summered with them to send an email to their journal or to all students inviting them to apply.  This is a great opportunity to get your application in through a smaller pool so don't miss out on it because you are not checking your school email.

Talk to 3Ls and Career Services! Talk to 3Ls who have gone through the OCI process. Many of them have interviewed with the same firms and can offer their insight on the process overall.  I reached out to people on my journal, my former LRW TAs, and friends from student organizations –they were all eager to help.  Talk to people who applied to outside firms to get an idea of what firms recruit outside of on-campus interviews.
Finally, remember that career services is a great resource. They have worked with these firms for a long time and can help you through the process.

Preparing for Interviews.  You will not always know in advance who will be interviewing you, sometimes it may be a partner and others it may be an associate and/or recruiter.  In my experience,  these tips were the most helpful:
  • Know your resume. I can't emphasize this enough.  Just about every interview I went on focused on my resume for some, if not all, of the interview.  Make sure you review everything on your resume and be prepared to discuss it. This includes the things in your interests section like favorite authors and hobbies. Someone will definitely ask you about it!
  • Know your writing sample.  A few of my interviews asked about my writing sample.  Make sure you can quickly talk about the problem and your analysis. 
  • Note Topics.  Many of my interviewers asked about note topics.  I found most interviewers understood that journal work had just recently begun but you should be prepared to talk about at least some note topics that interest you.     
I hope this helps.  I'll be back with some tips specifically for evening students in the coming days.