*Update and revise your resume & cover letter especially if you are going to use your resume over break. Refer to the chapters about resumes and cover letters in the CSO Handbook.
*Renew & make new contacts. Get together with contacts, even if it is just for a morning cup of coffee. Also, find out if there are any bar association functions that you can attend. A number of functions involving lawyers are conducted over the holidays, and these are a great opportunity to network.
*Conduct informational interviews. Locate someone who is doing what you think you want to do and arrange an informational interview. Ask them: What is a typical day like? What do they like most about what they do? What do they like the least? How can you make yourself an attractive candidate in that field? Who else should you contact? Need help identifying a contact? Stop by the CSO and review the Alumni/Student Mentor Directory. We also have a NALP brochure on how to successfully conduct an informational interview.
*Write an article or do volunteer work. If you are not working over the holidays, see if a local legal services office or other legal aid organization could use some volunteer help. A good way to get your name noticed is to write an article for a bar journal, a competition, or a publication in the field you are interested in. Often, students can get involved in various bar sections and attend meetings – another great way to meet people doing what you would like to do.
*Manage your on-line presence. If you use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, does the information you post portray a positive professional image? If you don’t use any of these sites, consider creating a LinkedIn profile so you can use this medium to make professional connections. Review NALP’s E-Guides for E-Professionalism so you are sure to put your best foot forward while sending e-mail messages and using various social media sites.
*Get a letter of reciprocity. If you are leaving town over the winter break and want to begin searching for a summer job in another city, get a letter of reciprocity. Reciprocity letters can be sent to law schools throughout the country. A reciprocity letter entitles you to use the career services offices of other law schools. However, schools vary on what services are available. You can find details about schools’ reciprocity policies at www.nalp.org. If you would like a letter of reciprocity, please send a request to email@example.com.
*Do a Self Assessment. Spend some time figuring out what you want to do. Assess your skills, interest, and personality traits, and consider where you would most like to work. Do you want to work in a law firm? What size firm? Do you want to do public interest work? Do you want to do a judicial clerkship? Would you like to work for the government or the military? How about using your degree in a non-traditional role? You can find self-assessment books in the CSO Resource Center, and you can borrow them to read during the break (or any time).
*Prepare applications for judicial clerkships. If you are a second year (2D, 3E, 3P) or third year (3D, 4E, 4P) student considering a clerkship with the Pennsylvania Supreme, Superior or Commonwealth Courts, use the break to gather information and prepare applications. Ask your professors for letters of recommendation now. Review the CSO’s judicial clerkship resources. Talk with someone who has clerked. (A number of our law professors are former law clerks.) Many local judges will be accepting applications in the spring. Do some research, talk with alumni who are currently clerking, and get application materials in order.
*Prepare applications for public interest and government opportunities. Take time to review the postings online for public interest and government opportunities (paid & unpaid) at www.psjd.org, in the Government Internship and Honors Attorney Handbook (available via DuqLawConnect/Symplicity), and on www.usajobs.gov. If unpaid, apply for the position and for a Summer Public Interest Fellowship or Summer Public Service Fellowship through the Law School, or for a SummerCorps fellowship through Equal Justice Works (www.equaljusticeworks.org). If you want to work in government or public interest, often you need to volunteer or work for low pay to make contacts, gain experience, and demonstrate your commitment.
*Create a Job Folder and Networking Log. If you are working during the break, keep track of your assignments: drafting pleadings and motions, preparing discovery, etc. Keep a folder in which you briefly describe what you have done. This is a useful tool when it comes time to update your resume & cover letter. If you are networking during break, create a spreadsheet or journal noting the contacts you have made, meetings you have had and follow-up needed to be done. You can find a sample networking log at the end of the “Fundamentals of Job Searching” chapter in the CSO Handbook.