The CSO asked several students and recent grads 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, Samoneh Kadivar, who will be splitting her time this summer in Austin at Baker Botts L.L.P. and McKool Smith, candidly shares her Fall OCI advice:

How did you decide which employers to apply to?
I created a list of my priorities and chose law firms based on my priority list. For example, my number one priority was to be in Austin, and if I couldn’t be in Austin then I wanted to be in Houston or Dallas. My second priority was to choose a law firm that had an amazing IP practice with a great reputation. My third priority was to make sure the hours and culture of the firms I read about online meshed with my personality and the things I wanted to be doing currently and in the future.

Did you tailor your application materials for each employer? If so, how?
Yes! Although I was interested in practicing IP, I also applied for corporate positions. Clearly, I had to change my CV (resume) to show why I was interested in practicing corporate law. However, I also changed my CV (resume) for each IP firm. For example, if the IP firm practiced mostly life sciences, I emphasized that I majored in Biology. If the IP firm didn’t practice life sciences or if the life science practice was small, I emphasized that although I was a Biology major, I also took physics, chemistry, computer science, etc. I would definitely recommend tailoring the application materials for each employer. They can tell if it’s the same generic document you send to each employer! Also, put some fun, crazy (but true) activity or thing you have done at the end of your resume. It’s a great talking point in interviews.

What questions would you recommend students ask employers?
(1) Do the associates have difficulty meeting their billing hours? If they do, it might be a sign that there might not be enough work in the firm for you, though it might also just be a sign of a slow year.

(2) What one piece of advice do you wish someone had told you when you were a summer associate?

If you had lottery interviews, did you have any success with them?
Yes! The two firms I had lottery interviews with both gave me a summer associate position that I said yes to.

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?
Managing reception/dinner invitations is tough just because it can be really exhausting having to constantly be “on.” But after the first couple, it actually became really fun for me, especially when I spoke with lawyers at the receptions who were like-minded or had similar interests to mine. I went to every reception I was invited to except for two, which ended up being the two that didn’t give me a call back interview. So going to the receptions is VERY important, especially if you want to have a call back interview. Don’t forget, they take attendance at the receptions! Further, if the firm is on the fence about you, but you have a great personality and seem like you would fit in with the firm, speaking to the lawyers may just get you over the fence.

The interviews are easier than law school exams. So, just enjoy the process and have fun with it!

What was the average wait time to hear back from employers after the first interview?
On average, it would take anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks.

What one piece of advice would you give to a rising 2L regarding OCI?
My biggest piece of advice is to try your hardest during the interviews, even if you have good grades. Being a great conversationalist can make or break you. You want to come across as likeable, not arrogant. And always try to be enthusiastic. For example, I interviewed with one firm early in the morning and I didn’t have time to get coffee before the interview. I was really tired. I still went into the interview and the interviewer asked me how I liked Houston and my exhaustion got the better of me and I gave a mediocre response. The interviewer told me sarcastically, “Well, don’t sound so enthusiastic about it.” Although I did end up getting a call back, my attitude towards the interview came across very clearly. So always remember to keep your energy levels up. Also, take advantage of the Career Services Office. Being able to do a practice interview with Natalie Aitken (my career counselor) and get her feedback not just on my mock interview, but also on my resume, made me a WAY better interviewee and candidate.