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October 09, 2007

Looking For A Public Interest Job? Tools and Advice For Your Job Search

Submitted by MaryAnn Sarosi, Office of Public Service

Why can’t the government and public interest job search be as easy as the firm job search?

If you want to know the answer to that question, Grasshopper, you’re better off foregoing this article and going straight to the horoscopes. If you want some pointers for the summer job hunt, read on.

First of all, you don’t need to have a job in hand now. The public service job hunt schedule is NOT the same as the law firm hiring schedule. Students often secure jobs well into March! Having said that, you do have to do some homework before applying for jobs. The homework should include:

• Checking out the OPS Student Toolkit web page, http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/PublicService/toolkit.htm, the practice area pages and downloading the Making a Difference Guide on the OPS website and checking Jobnet regularly.

• Studying Last Year’s Summer Employment List. Find out where other students worked this past summer. Get ideas and tips from a student who has already worked at the summer job of your dreams. The OCS web site lists students who are willing to speak with other students about their summer jobs with public interest organizations and state, local, and federal agencies. You can access the information by clicking on “ Student Summer Employment List - Geographic by Employer Location” (PDF document) or “ Student Summer Employment List - Alphabetical by Employer Name” (PDF document).

• Looking at the job summaries written by past Dean’s Public Service Fellows http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/PublicService/funding/deans-fellowship.htm

• Looking at the SFF list of funded jobs to see where fellow students worked last summer. This list is on the OPS website http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/PublicService/funding/sff.htm and a hard copy can be found in the career resources library in room 210 HH. After looking at these resources, call Jackie Julien at 647-3256 to make an appointment to see MaryAnn Sarosi.

• Checking the jobs listed on PSLawNet.org http://www.pslawnet.org/. After registering for a password, you can search for "opportunities," which are job descriptions for positions already listed and/or by "organization," i.e. type of employer. Opportunities with numerous government agencies as well as prosecutors' and public defenders' offices are listed.

• Familiarizing yourself with the Office of Career Services website; of particular interest is the “useful links” section http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/careerservices/usefullinks.htm.

• Studying our federal government employment resources. We have a list of agencies along with deadlines for applying. Also, we have links to other resources that list government employment opportunities that you should check out. Examples include: www.law.arizona.edu/career/honorshandbook.cfm - Government Honors and Internship Handbook (For 2007-2008, the username and password are oreo and cookie) and http://www.nalp.org/assets/859_0708fedlegalempguide.pdf (a wealth of information that offers job seekers an in-depth look at the government’s myriad functions and roles, as well as a glossary of terms unique to the federal application process, and tips on landing a government job. Particularly helpful is the “Appendix: Federal Departments and Agencies: What They Do and Who Does It.”)

The student group, OPIS, has set up a mentorship program for 1Ls and 2Ls interested in talking to 3Ls with experience in government or public interest. If you’re a 3L, I encourage you to sign up to provide assistance to 1L and 2Ls. If you’re a 1L or 2L, take advantage of this wealth of experience. Please contact Kate Pomper at kpomper@umich.edu to sign up.

My office will also underwrite some of your costs to go to job fairs such as the upcoming Equal Justice Works Job Fair (October 6th and 7th in Washington, D.C .) OPS will reimburse $75 toward housing/travel and we will pay for registration IF you submit receipts within 3 weeks after the event. For a list of other public interest career fairs, go to http://www.law.umich.edu/currentstudents/PublicService/conferences.htm

That’s the general advice I can provide in the confines of an 800 word article. Of course, if you’re seriously considering pursuing a summer job in government or public interest, you should make an appointment to see me or one of the OCS attorney advisors. We can then tailor our discussion to your interests and needs.