If the Office of Career Services is adopting the same approach it did last year, then 1Ls will by now have been instructed by Assistant Dean of Career Services Mark Weber that they need not worry about the Early Interview Program because everyone will be fine and will get a great job—except of course for those who won’t be fine and won’t get a great job, because, after all, it’s not 2007 anymore. OCS’s simultaneously anxiety-inducing and reassuring message is one of the many odd aspects of EIP that stand out in my mind as I reflect on the bizarre experience that is EIP. The oddities of EIP only just begin with OCS, and the experience suprised me in a number of ways.
For instance, EIP was actually a lot of fun. While the thought of participating in somewhere around 25 interviews over the course of five days was daunting, in the vast majority of cases, the 20-minute time slots passed quickly and painlessly. With a few notable exceptions (firms, you know who you are), they consisted almost exclusively of congenial small talk. Despite the hectic schedule, the experience was entertaining, energizing and certainly more interesting than a typical week of class. One need not be a gregarious extrovert to enjoy the experience. In fact, the highly structured, predictable nature of the social interactions that dominate EIP tends to cater to those who might not be as comfortable in more free-for-all type social interactions. No matter how socially awkward you are, it is not very difficult to keep a conversation going for 20 minutes when you have so many things to talk about (such as, for instance, the life story that you have condensed onto your single-page, OCS-approved resume). I’m sure that everyone had those few interviews where it seemed as if that interview-ending knock could not come soon enough, but I would venture to say that these were the outliers.
More than being pleasant experiences, the interviews were valuable because they allowed me to learn something about areas of the law I knew little about. In fact, I found my interests evolving as I went through the process and learned more about what the day-to-day life of practicing in a number of areas is like. Because the 1L curriculum (and law school in general) is highly focused on litigation, I particularly appreciated having the opportunity to meet transactional attorneys and hear about the work they do. It also goes without saying that having the opportunity to perform in a couple dozen interviews in short succession allows you to hone your interview skills as the week progresses and to develop skills that will no doubt serve useful in the future.
Perhaps what was most surprising to me about EIP was the sense of camaraderie that pervades the experience. Although we were all competing over many of the same jobs, because so much of the process seemed to be out of our control (as it most certainly is), there was little point in feeling competitive with our classmates. Rather than creating a competitive atmosphere, EIP presented an opportunity to bond over the strange experience we were all going through and to reconnect with friends after the summer break as we clustered around the tables in the student lounge, reminding each other of details of firms that we had culled from their websites.
Perhaps some will object that I have painted an overly rosy picture of EIP, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that I enjoyed the experience a bit more than some of my classmates. I would, however, encourage anyone planning on participating in EIP to approach it with an open mind. You just might be surprised.
The author is an anonymous Harvard Law student.