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cherrytree

Reflecting on my experience as an unsuccessful candidate of the 2L recruit

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An especially poignant post, just ahead of my 1L interview this coming week. And no matter what may happen Tuesday,  I will remember that "after the final no there comes a yes".  Thank you for this @cherrytree

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1 hour ago, NovemberRain said:

An especially poignant post, just ahead of my 1L interview this coming week. And no matter what may happen Tuesday,  I will remember that "after the final no there comes a yes".  Thank you for this @cherrytree

I hope it goes well, but if it doesn’t you’ll be very ready for 2L. I was unsuccessful in 1L but way more prepared for my 2L in-firms with a better idea of what I was walking into. 

Good luck!

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forgot to tack this on at the end of the post yesterday but, my inbox is open to anyone who wants to talk about formal/informal recruit related woes. i will try my best to listen and help!

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Great post - this really sums up what striking out in the 1L and 2L recruits taught me. Especially your point about accepting that the playing field isn’t level - it can be hard to know the line between the arbitrariness of recruits and putting your best self forward come interview time, as hard as it may be. For me, it just meant that I had two rounds of learning that line so I could be successful in the articling recruit and land the big firm of dreams. Funny enough, one I had completely written off before and didn’t apply to because I didn’t think I was good enough. 

Whatever happens, know that it serves a purpose and is there to better you, as hard and cheesy as that is. I know I wouldn’t be remotely near where I am today had I ended up with a 1L job. 

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With all the OCI questions that have popped up in the last week, I think this thread deserves a bump! Great points by OP.

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It's been about 11 months since I wrote this post, and I thought it would be worthwhile to write an addendum addressing the unique challenges of going through the recruit in this cycle. Ontario’s stay-at-home order will likely still be in effect by the time the Toronto OCIs happen over the week of February 16. Needless to say, while you won’t be distracted by loud conversations happening on the other end of the non-soundproof black curtains in a big conference room or thinking about table banners during in-firm interviews, going through the 2L recruit on a remote basis brings with it certain distractions and challenges that, quite frankly, no one will know until they experience it. 

Having gone through the recruit back in Fall 2019, I won’t pretend to be an expert of remote interviewing or how to set up the perfect virtual background or how to project your voice/expressions to most effectively build up interpersonal connections with your interviewers over the Internet. I hope your career offices and any upper year students who participated in the Fall 2020 articling recruit that you know would be much better sources for giving you answers to those questions. Nevertheless, I hope this post will be helpful for some of you to read as you prepare for the OCIs and the not-in-firm-but-in-firm interviews. None of these points will be revolutionary or shocking to you as you read this post, but I still think it helps to hear them from someone else.
 

1. Keeping sane and maintaining mental fortitude in isolation and radio silence

One thing that I remember vividly from my own experience with the recruit is how time crawls so slowly when you are waiting for a callback from an employer, waiting to be told one way or another if you will be proceeding to the next stage of the process, and even when business hours are long passed, still waiting for sleep to take over your consciousness so you can stop the anxious or compulsive thoughts from gnawing at you. As we continue to be inside our homes while case numbers climb up in Toronto, I know that there are way less options for distractions available to you to help manage the anxiety of “the wait” and speculating or second-guessing whether an employer liked you better than the other candidate(s) enough to put you over the cutoff. 

My advice is to plan early. Do you like puzzles and board games? Good, find a bunch of good ones that you can either get online or physical copies of. If it is at all possible for you to assemble a group of friends either online or in-person to play together when you have big gaps in your schedule during interview days, plan ahead for that. Not being alone will help immensely both for making time pass more quickly and for talking out of any irrational, panicky thoughts you may have about “firm X did/said this, but what does that mean?” type of questions. If you don’t like puzzles or board games (to which I personally cannot relate), exercising either indoors or outside where you can get some fresh air would be good. Again, try not to do these activities alone if you can help it. 

Fighting off anxious, intrusive, irrational, panicky thoughts will be easier said than done. When I was a 2L interviewee I thought I was calm and level-headed enough to manage my emotional state relatively well, but I definitely still had a rough time with it. Don’t overestimate yourself in this regard and certainly don’t be too hard on yourself. If you feel like a good cry is what you need, let the stress hormones flow out from your tears, and then go eat something comforting, energizing, and delicious. Do not isolate yourself from your peers any more than everybody already is due to the pandemic. Yes, everyone participating in the recruit is vying for the same jobs as you are, but who else is better positioned to understand what you are going through? Reach out, start conversations, and keep each other company with good thoughts and positive support if you have the capacity to do so. Be a good neighbour, by which I mean, try not to be an added source of anxiety and stress to your fellow recruit participants if you are going to interact with them, if you can help yourself.

2. Improve your application and sharpen your skills but there may just be nothing wrong with you, really

Between now and Call Day, you will likely ask for and receive loads of well-meaning advice, whether solicited or not. I’m re-emphasizing here the point I made in part 2 of my original post: most of the advice you get will not be tailored to you as an individual. Advice you receive from people who have succeeded in this system for hiring and recruitment as early as 1L or 2L will likely be advice that best serves candidates who are like them. Believe it or not, there are certain students who would be sought after like hotcakes by Bay St firms just by “being themselves”, and there are certain students for whom the recruit will inevitably be a frustrating and uneasy experience, even when nothing in particular is going wrong. I doubt the latter will gain much insight from upper year students or lawyers who belong to the former category. 

On an anonymous forum like LS.ca, the completely generalized nature of advice-giving would be even more prominent. Prepare yourself as best as you can based on what you know about yourself and play to your strengths and guard against your weaknesses. Go to mock interviews with your careers office and upper years, but as with everything you read/hear in law school, evaluate the feedback you receive from those sources objectively and critically. If the feedback aligns with what you already know is a potential issue with your candidacy, follow it. If it doesn’t feel right for you, then trust your gut. It would be difficult to project confidence when you talk to the interviewers if you don’t convey a decent level of self-assuredness and self-awareness during the interviews. 

3. If you strike out: this too shall pass

If you don’t want to be fatalistic about it at this time, feel free to come back and read this part if your phone remains silent at 5pm on Call Day in March. I hope many/most of you will not need to read this part because you will have received an offer from your top choice employer and will be celebrating with your loved ones.

But, if you don’t get a job out of this process, I hope you take the time to feel your feelings and let them out. Give yourself a proper break, celebrate the hard work you’ve done to pull yourself through the recruit regardless. There are tons of good threads in Careers Services from past years written by people who were in the same position seeking advice, and they were given good advice. Of course, some of it will not be directly applicable due to the times we are currently living in. But still, I encourage you to do a deep dive (protip: the Google site-specific search works way better than the forum’s own search page) and read some of those older posts when you feel ready for it. I don’t know if that will necessarily help you feel more cheery, but I hope it will help to take away some of the self-blame you will inevitably feel. The future is scary and uncertain and undoubtedly even more so in this cycle, compared to previous years; what remains true, however, is the necessity to accept what you cannot change and make actionable plans to effectuate what you can do to find a position outside the structured recruit. Recognize that those efforts may well still be moot due to circumstances you cannot change, but make those actionable plans and follow through with your actions, anyways. Do it because you owe it to yourself not to give up halfway through your law school journey. 
 

If you've made it this far on this too-long post, I wish you the best of luck with the recruit process. I hope you will be okay and I hope you too will reflect on your experiences, learn something from it, and pass down what you learned to future generations of students going through this process. Take care and be well!

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My best advice is not to get too high or too low through the process. A great interview can lead to no call and the strangest, driest 17 minutes of your life can lead to a firm calling you exactly at 8:00am on call day. Try to keep an even keel, don’t read too much into things like not receiving a response to your thank email, and keep smiling and moving forward. 

If a firm doesn’t call you for an in-firm, forget them! Focus on the firms who did and move on. 

It’s a weird, exhausting few weeks, but like all things it will end. 

Good luck. 

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