The CSO asked several students to share their advice on navigating the Fall OCI recruiting season. Over the summer we will be sharing their tips about the research and bidding process, including strategies for ranking employers, what to expect during OCI, and more.
Rising 3L student, Audrey Bartosh, candidly shares her Fall OCI advice:
What resources did you find most helpful when researching employers?
Vault, Chambers Associate, and the firms’ own websites. I generally tried to gather basic information about the firm’s practice areas, office size, and recent big deals/future plans for the actual interview. For my own general impression of the firm, I looked at reviews of their hours, culture, and training.
How did you decide which employers to apply to?
I decided based on a mix of factors—gut impression of the culture of the firms, their locations, their prestige, and what the firms were looking for in students. For example, because I didn’t particularly know what area of law I wanted to go into aside from transactional, I was a bit hesitant in applying to firms that had few practice groups or wanted summers to specialize right away. I did end up applying to them, but they were a lower priority for me.
Did you tailor your application materials for each employer? If so, how?
Yes, to a certain extent. I applied to more than one city, and I had slightly different resumes for each city, because each city’s legal market is different. For example, New York has a very strong finance market, while Texas cities are very strong in oil and gas. So I tweaked my resume accordingly. As far as cover letters are concerned, when I had to do them, I generally had one or two sentences I changed around with each firm.
How long does it take to go through the bidding process? How much time should we plan for?
New York took hardly any time at all, because I didn’t have to rank employers and few required cover letters. I’d say it took an hour or two. As far as OCI is concerned, I honestly can’t remember…but I probably devoted an entire day to it.
What was your strategy in deciding how to rank employers?
I ranked based on a mix of location, firm specialization, and the firm’s hiring history. “Location” is pretty self-explanatory, and by firm specialization, I mean what I mentioned above—if the firm had fewer practice areas, I tended to give them a lower ranking. But probably the biggest factor for me was the firm’s hiring history. There’s the GPA range the firms say they want, and then there’s the GPA they actually accept. CSO gave out a sheet with the latter, and I studied it pretty intently. My GPA was good, but it was below the cut-off for a few employers, so I didn’t bother ranking them highly. I focused more on the firms I had a borderline GPA for. I figured they wouldn’t probably give me an interview but they might actually consider me if we hit off well in the interview nevertheless.
What did you do if you didn’t get on an interview schedule for an employer you are really interested in?
This didn’t really happen for me. Not because I was super impressive (I wish!), but because at OCI there were very few firms I was especially interested in over the others. The one firm I was especially interested in I happened to get an interview with.
What suggestions do you have on the day of interviews?
If you have more than one interview in one day (which you will if you do the New York Job Fair), make sure you have the firms straight and can pronounce all their names correctly. Other than that, relax. Keep in mind that you’re interviewing the firm just as much as they’re interviewing you. “Fit” actually really is pretty important, and you can’t manufacture it. If after an interview, you come out feeling like you didn’t say anything wrong, yet nevertheless, nothing “clicked” and then you don’t get a callback—don’t despair. Would you really want to work for a firm where you always felt like the odd person out?
What three questions would you recommend students ask employers?
My standard question probably was, “Why did you choose your firm/if you are a lateral, why did you lateral over?” This was a good question because I could ask it of anybody, and many times I actually got pretty informative answers. The laterals were generally the best people to ask this question, because they had another firm to compare their current firm to. That question generally took up most of the remaining time, so I rarely had to ask another one. If I did, I would generally ask about how they choose their practice area, or if they could describe a recent deal for me, or what the firm’s culture was like in how they interacted with their support staff.
If you had lottery interviews, did you have any success with them?
Some people genuinely do, but I didn’t. So take my ranking advice with a grain of salt.
How did you manage reception/dinner invitations? Did you go to each reception you were invited to? Did you feel that attending a dinner/reception helped you make a stronger connection with the firm?
So, I made the mistake at the beginning of not going to every reception I was invited to…don’t make that mistake. Squeeze them all in. That being said, I think they were helpful for me in figuring out the culture of the firm and whether or not I would be a good “fit.” The attorneys there are figuring out the same thing too.
Did you send thank-you notes after each interview? If so what format and to whom?
Yes. I sent emails to everyone. They were generally pretty short for first round interviews and a bit longer for callbacks. For callbacks I also thanked the recruiting coordinator who arranged everything. As far as content was concerned, I had a standard format for them as well, but I always included one specific detail about each interviewer. If I could between interviewers I would just jot down the detail I planned on mentioning before I forgot. I sent almost all my thank you’s at the end of the day or the next morning at the latest.
What was the average wait time to hear back from employers after the first interview?
I was either a first-round pick for someone or they didn’t pick me at all. The longest wait I had was when I got a callback invitation the Monday morning after a Thursday morning interview. That being said, some people don’t get called back for weeks because firms have several rounds of callbacks, so if two days later you haven’t heard from a firm, don’t despair.
What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L regarding OCI?
I would say that if you’re in any way flexible about where you can live, apply to lots of cities. I would do this especially if you’re a little borderline with your GPA—the more places you apply to, the better your odds are. My impression of my classmates’ success is that those who were most flexible in location were the most successful. Remember, while the CSO is great at landing students jobs, the legal job market is still really competitive. Also, brace yourself—part of the reason OCI is so stressful for students is it’s so physically exhausting. There’s no point in pretending it isn’t. Eat healthy foods, don’t stay out late drinking, and get plenty of sleep.
What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L who may need to look outside of OCI to find a summer clerkship?
I didn’t do this, but based on my observations of others—be aggressive and persistent: apply everywhere.