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"Much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose"

We live in an age disturbed, confused, bewildered, afraid of its own forces, in search not merely of its road but even of its direction. There are many voices of counsel, but few voices of vision; there is much excitement and feverish activity, but little concert of thoughtful purpose. We are distressed by our own ungoverned, undirected energies and do many things, but nothing long. Woodrow Wilson

Wilson spoke those words in an address about pre-war America, not about a 1L searching for jobs, but the feeling translates.

For me, at least, it's over. Today I accepted a job for the summer. While the details are under wraps because I'm not certain my employers would want to be mentioned here, suffice it to say that after exams I'll be trading in New York Starbucks coffee for the better blends one gets in Tokyo kisaten. Even now I'm sweating bullets and brushing up frantically on my spoken language skills. The "feverish excitement" of job searching has turned into focused preparation--and a bit of relief that I can concentrate on exams.

I'm quite happy now, the entire process has been more bruising than I might have expected. Prior to my life as a law student, I've rarely applied for jobs or universities that were on a 'beaten track.' Thinking outside of the box hasn't just been my strong suit but my way of life. I got into university in a rather oddball manner, and was lucky that my tutor's wife was American, so she could translate my test scores for her husband. When I've looked for jobs, I've done a few carefully-crafted resumes targetted at just the firms I wanted to work for, and had a great deal of success. [1] Part of the equation was always reducing competition, using lateral thinking to make sure I fit precisely into a hole I'd identified in an organization.

Not this time. I probably sent out a hundred envelopes, soulless form letters. I was a cookie-cutter candidate applying for cookie-cutter positions. A few I hand-crafted out of habit, to firms that I felt some affinity towards, but for the most part I did nothing more than cast 1L spam upon the waters and see what returned.

What returned was rejections of various levels of interest and politeness. I can't prove it, but I'm almost certain I've been rejected by firms to which I didn't even apply. Opening the mail every day became a matter of dark humor: will the product of my mail-merge be another mail-merged document, or might it be something... different.

I doubt I handled the process very well. Wormwood, when you come to Law School remember that the law firm interview is a quite intense and tiring schedule: a good night's sleep will prepare you better for a few hours meeting new people than almost anything else. Looking back at some of the interview sessions, there's moments for which I could absolutely kick myself. For instance, one moment I was called upon to speak in Japanese and simply froze. I couldn't mumble a single thing, forgetting the word kaisha (company), which I still recall was on the list of twenty vocabulary words for my first day of my undergraduate degree.

This isn't to complain of my fate: obviously I'm estatic with the outcome and looking forward to the summer--if I can just get past the exams. In keeping with the past, the firm I'm working with isn't one of my spam victims. But over the last few weeks I've received more rejection letters than I have in the entirety of my life combined. I know that it's mostly the collision of impersonal forces: my scattershot resumes becoming datapoints in hundreds of recruitment databases. But it has still worn the soul a little thin, and I'm very glad it's over.

[1]: For just one difference, these were almost the first resumes I've ever written to recruiting staff. When I've done this before, I'd spend time searching the web for just the right person in the organization I wanted to work for. I'd find a news article about them or something they'd written, and write directly to them. It gets an interview more often than not, and shortcuts the hurdle of the recruiting office. Somehow, though, I didn't want to try this in a law firm.


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