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Legolas

Was "not invited" to OCI interview process for Calgary recruit. What do I do now?

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Hello all,

Feeling a little disappointed, yet not completely surprised. I applied to do OCI's for the Calgary recruit and was informed that I "have not been invited" to interview with the firms. I applied to around 10 Calgary firms thru VI portal. 

The CDO told me to "keep in mind that there are far more qualified applicants this year than available spots" (possibly COVID related?). However, I am well aware that my stats aren't great,  and was hoping for more guidance from this forum. Am I out of my mind thinking that I had a slight chance at the Calgary OCI? 

-School: McGill

-Entering 3L (McGill counts 3L as 'second year' students for OCI)

-Cum GPA: 3.10 (curve average is B)

-Various electives in 2L that were business, criminal law, International, Trusts, and medical liability (Couldn't really take what I wanted due to required courses/scheduling conflicts) 

-Anticipated Courses in 3L: Corporate finance, Secured transactions, Banking, Crim Procedure, Commercial, Corporate Taxation, International Trade (Not sure how important these are) 

extra-curricular: Caseworker for University Legal Clinic, member of a few unimpressive 'fun' clubs

My cover-letters were fairly generic and I used a similar template for all of them. I thought they were solid, but this could definitely be a weak area as well - would appreciate some tips here too.

*Finally, I don't really have any connection to Calgary or Alberta and didn't mention it on the CL's. 

This forum has generally been helpful in the past, and I could really use some tips on some next steps to take. I am aware of my weak stats, so I would appreciate if you could also add some solutions as to what I should do for future OCI's... I can imagine that the Toronto, Vancouver, etc. recruits will be even harder to qualify. I have heard about OCI's being super competitive, but I assumed I could at least get my foot in the door for 1 interview, so I'm pretty bummed about the situation. 

Thank you all in advance. 

 

 

 

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I don't think you're out of your mind for thinking you had a chance. But... average (above average? I don't know much about McGill's grading), generic cover letters, zero connection to Alberta, and only ten applications* in a competitive year. You don't sound like a particularly strong candidate for this recruit.

I see no reason that this will hold you back from the Toronto or Vancouver recruits, as those markets require less of a connection. Do your research, tailor your cover letters, and get strong Fall grades. Start preparing those letters now so that you can apply widely but not stretch yourself too thin by coming off as generic. I wasn't the strongest candidate so I applied to about 60 positions for the Toronto recruit. That lead to 12 OCIs and one non-OCI interview offer. Applying to that many firms felt silly at the time, but given that my conversion rate was only about 20%, I'm certainly glad I did.

Good luck and don't feel too down on yourself. You have plenty of opportunities still.

*I see that there were only 11 firms participating in the recruit, so I don't fault you for this. Just pointing out that it's not very many applications overall.

Edited by chaboywb
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I'll start by saying that OCIs aren't the only way to get a job so don't think that all of your doors are closed. The fact that you had generic cover letters and didn't tailor them to each firm you were applying to probably played a factor. Especially without any ties to Alberta, firms may have assumed you applied everywhere and weren't genuinely interested in them in particular. It takes much more time to tailor each cover letter but it's necessary.

I know you're bummed but I'd focus on using this experience to elevate Toronto/Vancouver applications. You might find this sample cover letter helpful to compare yours to: https://www.lawverse.ca/cover-letter-oci-s

Also if you have a friend or family member who is a strong writer, ask them to review/edit. Hope this helps, good luck!!

 

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Average grades and mediocre ECs would already make you a marginal candidate for OCI jobs. Generic cover letters and zero Alberta connection would pretty much seal the deal that firms wouldn't waste their time on you though. Alberta employers really don't appreciate being looked at as a dumping ground for out-of-province applicants who are having difficulty obtaining positions in their preferred cities. That may or may not describe you (but some of the language you used in your post suggests to me that it might), but they see those types all the time and I'm sure they had enough strong candidates with clear Alberta connections that they weren't going to bother putting in the effort to figure out whether it did.

Dust yourself off, put it behind you and keep at it. It does sound like you mostly have the right attitude but are a little bit miffed about this, but I will say that even with otherwise excellent candidates, a whiff of uncertainty about whether a candidate actually wants to work in Calgary is all it takes for them to be eliminated (I've been privy to this from the inside, for what it's worth).

Edited by CleanHands
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17 hours ago, chaboywb said:

 

Thank you for taking the time to write that. Your perspective is definitely insightful.. I was under the impression that applying to 10 firms was a standard amount, just because this is my first 'attempt' at a recruit. I'll keep in mind what you've said here, so thanks again.

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17 hours ago, rockclimbing said:

I'll start by saying that OCIs aren't the only way to get a job so don't think that all of your doors are closed. The fact that you had generic cover letters and didn't tailor them to each firm you were applying to probably played a factor. Especially without any ties to Alberta, firms may have assumed you applied everywhere and weren't genuinely interested in them in particular. It takes much more time to tailor each cover letter but it's necessary.

 

Thanks for giving me your time, I appreciate it.

 

I feel like my cover letter wasn't too far off from the strengths of the sample letter you linked. My cover letter consisted of a short intro, 2 body paragraphs, small closing (around same length as that sample). The first explaining why my time as a caseworker at the university clinic has provided me with some transferrable strengths to the respective firm: client interactions, research, interests in that legal field, etc. (this part was tailored in detail as to what the firm was looking for). The second paragraph was about my dedicative work ethic to a work environment that values XYZ (XYZ were again tailored to the firm's core mission statement... usually diversity, equity, etc.). Idk if this is a good gauge for my 'effort,' but the 2-3 templates I cycled took me around 2 hours to write. Each 'tailoring' process took me around half an hour to 45 minutes - it was basically just going on the firm's website and browsing around until I could add a few things into my cover letter. 

Does my process sound like poop to you? I know its hard to evaluate without actually READING the letters, but do you see any red flags? I plan to visit my CDO who's giving me a review of my application, but honestly this forum has been excellent in the past with giving additional insights.

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16 hours ago, CleanHands said:

Average grades and mediocre ECs would already make you a marginal candidate for OCI jobs. Generic cover letters and zero Alberta connection would pretty much seal the deal that firms wouldn't waste their time on you though. Alberta employers really don't appreciate being looked at as a dumping ground for out-of-province applicants who are having difficulty obtaining positions in their preferred cities. That may or may not describe you (but some of the language you used in your post suggests to me that it might), but they see those types all the time and I'm sure they had enough strong candidates with clear Alberta connections that they weren't going to bother putting in the effort to figure out whether it did.

Dust yourself off, put it behind you and keep at it. It does sound like you mostly have the right attitude but are a little bit miffed about this, but I will say that even with otherwise excellent candidates, a whiff of uncertainty about whether a candidate actually wants to work in Calgary is all it takes for them to be eliminated (I've been privy to this from the inside, for what it's worth).

Yeah my grades are kind of trash and I'm not super happy about it. It's very apparent to me that my cohort is faster, smarter, and more hard working, so I'm working on my confidence and trying to survive. 

Just to clarify, are you suggesting that I add something in my cover letters about wanting to work/live in Alberta? Should I say that I want to start a career there? I don't view it as a dumping ground (and its my first ever 'attempt' at a recruit), but I get what you're saying.

Thank you so much man.

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11 minutes ago, Legolas said:

Yeah my grades are kind of trash and I'm not super happy about it. It's very apparent to me that my cohort is faster, smarter, and more hard working, so I'm working on my confidence and trying to survive. 

Just to clarify, are you suggesting that I add something in my cover letters about wanting to work/live in Alberta? Should I say that I want to start a career there? I don't view it as a dumping ground (and its my first ever 'attempt' at a recruit), but I get what you're saying.

Thank you so much man.

Definitely make reference to your desire to work/live in Alberta long term. From my understanding, at the summer student level, firms are basically making a long-term investment in you and it makes you a lot more appealing if the hiring committee doesn't see you as a flight risk. 

I was part of the 1L Calgary recruit last year and I made sure to talk about wanting to be in Calgary and WHY. Even if not the most compelling reason (i.e. I'm a skiing enthusiast and love that Calgary is only an hour from Banff). The reasons I gave did come up in interviews. 

This is just my $0.02 so if someone from the hiring side of things has anything to say regarding that - I'm all ears! 

Edited by LionelHutzz
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15 minutes ago, Legolas said:

Yeah my grades are kind of trash and I'm not super happy about it. It's very apparent to me that my cohort is faster, smarter, and more hard working, so I'm working on my confidence and trying to survive. 

Just to clarify, are you suggesting that I add something in my cover letters about wanting to work/live in Alberta? Should I say that I want to start a career there? I don't view it as a dumping ground (and its my first ever 'attempt' at a recruit), but I get what you're saying.

Thank you so much man.

3.1 isn't trash - it puts you smack dab in the middle. 47% of students are in the 3-3.3 range. Mcgill even puts a claim about it.

You said yourself that you were average in your application with no connection. Tailor your CVs where you can. FWIW, I know people from McGill that entered Calgary with a 2.8, 3.3, ~3 and 3.4+. Same with Toronto and Montreal recruit.

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3.1 is more than fine for OCIs. McGill People get recruit jobs across the country with above or at a 3 on the regular. People above a 2.8 often get offers too.

It really does sound like it was connections based. Don't fret. If you're really dead set on big law, Toronto will be kinder to you.

I disagree with the Vancouver and not needing to show connections as much. From my personal and statistically confirmed evidence, that market definitely gives a leg up to "their own".

Toronto much less so.

Edited by pzabbythesecond

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17 hours ago, CleanHands said:

Average grades and mediocre ECs would already make you a marginal candidate for OCI jobs. Generic cover letters and zero Alberta connection would pretty much seal the deal that firms wouldn't waste their time on you though. Alberta employers really don't appreciate being looked at as a dumping ground for out-of-province applicants who are having difficulty obtaining positions in their preferred cities. That may or may not describe you (but some of the language you used in your post suggests to me that it might), but they see those types all the time and I'm sure they had enough strong candidates with clear Alberta connections that they weren't going to bother putting in the effort to figure out whether it did.

Dust yourself off, put it behind you and keep at it. It does sound like you mostly have the right attitude but are a little bit miffed about this, but I will say that even with otherwise excellent candidates, a whiff of uncertainty about whether a candidate actually wants to work in Calgary is all it takes for them to be eliminated (I've been privy to this from the inside, for what it's worth).

Am but a lowly 0L studying for the LSAT but, in my experience, what you say here regarding Alberta firms (and Albertans in general) is pretty bang on. I'm surprised that anyone applying to any job in Alberta from out of province (much less a professional one) wouldn't include some statement like "even with its recent energy industry woes, I am confident that Alberta is a great place to start a career because of xyz."  Hell, when I was applying for jobs in undergrad I'd throw in little tidbits about "Ottawa being the policy capital of Canada" or "British Columbia's unique political landscape" in my cover letters.

Edited by MountainMon

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To be clear, the Alberta economy was doing really poorly before COVID hit. In a good economy a conventional candidate with your grades might get looked at, but right now it is likely most OCI firms in Calgary are only looking at absolutely fantastic candidates outside of the Alberta schools. 

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I think what I am about to say might be controversial to what other posters have said above, but nonetheless I do think that they make valid points for a large majority of candidates. Like you I applied for the recruit and was somehow fortunate enough to land a few interviews. I have no connection to Alberta and this was a genuine concern of mine (you will find a post about this in my history). I am an average, if anything, possibly below average student. I pass/failed 2 courses this year and I had little hope of landing any interviews at all and I decided to take the chance anyways because it was something I really wanted. I think that what you have in terms of experience from working and taking classes is important. You should give yourself more credit than you are for all you have achieved thus far. 

I am by no means a stand out student with an extensive legal working history. The extent of my experience is retail sales. I think you should keep your hopes up for other recruits that will be coming in the next few months. Maybe ask your CDO to revise your resume and cover letter some more. I am always happy to read over your cover letter as well if you would like. I think my cover letter is what stands out against my average grades and mediocre experience. 

You may have been an "average" candidate, but you definitely have something to offer that other candidates don't. It's all a matter of finding what stands out about you that can benefit a firm and selling yourself on that. For me, I highlighted my undergrad education, because it's not a very common degree amongst law students as say a political science degree may be. Don't lose hope and continue strengthening your application package. All of the recruiters that have come to my school to discuss applications have always stressed the importance of a cover letter and selling yourself in a positive but not ego-centric manner. I know the forum is helpful in so many ways, but it is always a great idea to reach out to the firms you applied to and ask for feedback about your application as well. 

In many ways, I am the exact person many are claiming would be average and would never land an interview, but somehow I managed to go against the odds. I wish you luck in your future applications, and again please feel free to PM if I can help in any way or share more information about my applications. 

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16 minutes ago, missmaven said:

-Snip-

You say you got "interviews."

Did you actually receive an offer?

Was your connection to--and long-term interest in living in--Alberta questioned during the interview?

Perhaps I was unclear---if someone fitting the description I referred to tailored their application materials properly (which the OP admits they didn't do), it's not uncommon for them to receive interviews. But it is routine for candidates to be asked about their Alberta connections and interest, and to be removed from considered based solely on their answer to that question.

Edited by CleanHands
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1 hour ago, Legolas said:

Yeah my grades are kind of trash and I'm not super happy about it. It's very apparent to me that my cohort is faster, smarter, and more hard working, so I'm working on my confidence and trying to survive. 

Echoing what others said; average grades at a competitive law school aren't "trash." You aren't going to wow people who look at your transcript, but you won't be written off as a dunce either. And clearly your cohort isn't generally superior to you, since you "beat" half of them.

1 hour ago, Legolas said:

Just to clarify, are you suggesting that I add something in my cover letters about wanting to work/live in Alberta? Should I say that I want to start a career there? I don't view it as a dumping ground (and its my first ever 'attempt' at a recruit), but I get what you're saying.

Yes. In the future if you are going to apply to Alberta employers, absolutely include some reason as to why you are interested in working and living there in your cover letter.

1 hour ago, Legolas said:

Thank you so much man.

No worries; best of luck moving forward.

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31 minutes ago, CleanHands said:

You say you got "interviews."

Did you actually receive an offer?

Was your connection to--and long-term interest in living in--Alberta questioned during the interview?

Perhaps I was unclear---if someone fitting the description I referred to tailored their application materials properly (which the OP admits they didn't do), it's not uncommon for them to receive interviews. But it is routine for candidates to be asked about their Alberta connections and interest, and to be removed from considered based solely on their answer to that question.

I didn’t direct my response at you or your post. Interviews have not happened therefore I cannot comment on the substance of the interview. 
 

The topic isn’t about receiving an offer for a position. OP expressed feeling down about their outcome. I was simply suggesting that as someone with similar grades, in a similar situation (being unconnected to Alberta) I was able to land interviews because of what I think is the strength of my cover letter. My suggestions simply entailed that they strengthen their cover letter, much like you did. 
 

I just happened to share my circumstances which to most people may be surprising including myself, so it is reassurance that with a strong application, it is possible to do well during the process. 

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7 hours ago, Legolas said:

Thank you for taking the time to write that. Your perspective is definitely insightful.. I was under the impression that applying to 10 firms was a standard amount, just because this is my first 'attempt' at a recruit. I'll keep in mind what you've said here, so thanks again.

For OCIs, it's usually a first time for most people. I suggest reviewing your materials with your CDO before sending out your next round of applications. The CSO at my school does a great job at making a cover letter "pop."  You might be surprised as to where you can make yourself shine even with very ordinary experiences.

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12 minutes ago, Psychometronic said:

The CSO at my school does a great job at making a cover letter "pop."

Since I know you go to Allard, I have to say that they are very corporate-focused and their materials on government and criminal positions were actively unhelpful to me (caused me to waste time prepping in ways that actually had no relevance to my interviews) while I was able to obtain multiple offers without any assistance from them. So their usefulness will vary depending on what sorts of positions one is going for. I can't speak to the quality of CSOs at other schools though.

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On 9/1/2020 at 11:24 PM, CleanHands said:

Alberta connection

Could you elaborate on what you consider weak, moderate, and strong Alberta connections?

I think I can guess the weak ("Alberta" is my mother's name.) and strong (My spouse lives in Alberta.), but I'm not quite sure what a moderate connection would be.

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2 minutes ago, Pete said:

Could you elaborate on what you consider weak, moderate, and strong Alberta connections?

I think I can guess the weak ("Alberta" is my mother's name.) and strong (My spouse lives in Alberta.), but I'm not quite sure what a moderate connection would be.

There isn't some ranked hierarchy of degrees of connection to Alberta. All it boils down to is whether the explanation given by the candidate as to why they want to live and work in Alberta seems sincere, and whether there can be reasonable confidence they won't be a flight risk and waste the firm's investment in them.

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