Intense Interview Week Wraps Up for 2Ls, 3Ls
Scenes from the second floor of Slaughter Hall, where the bulk of interviews take place and students gather for updates on interview schedules.
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Some say that it makes the Law School look like a funeral home. Others say that it makes the Law School turn into a page out of the Brooks Brothers catalog. Regardless of what you think it does to fashion in the school’s hallways, hundreds of law students have been scurrying around North Grounds in suits for the past week, looking for the “professional” aspect to a professional degree: jobs.
The 2006 on-campus interview season officially began last Wednesday. By the time the first phase finished Tuesday, 522 students conducted 7,372 interviews with 629 law firm offices and public service employers. Second-year students averaged 17.6 interviews each, while participating third-year students averaged 4.6. Employers from more than 35 states and several international cities, including London, Tokyo, and Hong Kong, came to Charlottesville. Once the interviewers arrived, they met with students in every available Law School room, along with Sponsors Hall at the Darden Graduate School of Business.
After the first week of interviews, a second phase begins in September, when Career Services expects an additional 259 employers to interview on Grounds, for a total of 888. With this many options, the process can get tricky for students.
"There are just so many different firms to learn about," said Connie Chilton, a second-year student and chair of the Career Services Committee of the Student Bar Association. "It can be a good time to find out more about some of the distinguishing characteristics of the firms."
Chilton, who is interviewing in Los Angeles and Orange County, noted that most students have yet to hear about which firms will be granting them “callbacks”—second interviews in the employer’s office. As a result, sign-up dates for the second phase of interviews in September have been adjusted from last year to permit more cancellations from anyone who felt round one went particularly well for them or to permit more requests from anyone looking to talk to more employers. So that students can make the most of each of the two remaining stages of the interview process, the SBA and Career Services Office have planned a callback and phase-two strategy session for August 31.
This is the second year the Law School has conducted the first phase of on-Grounds interviews before school starts for upperclass students. A number of other law schools use similar systems as a way to be less invasive to academics, and Director of Career Services Polly Lawson said that, while there are still kinks in the system, it is largely working here.
“I think the interviews went very well,” she said. Lawson said Career Services staff knew what to expect this time around. “We were better able to advise students and help them prepare.”
Lawson believes that the front-loaded interview process benefits students by allowing them to focus exclusively on the job search before classes begin, and entirely on academics thereafter. Third-year student David Burnett agreed.
“The front-loaded process is intense, but I think it's preferable to mixing in courses,” he said. Burnett, who has an offer to join on a permanent basis the firm he worked at last summer, is looking in both New York and San Francisco. He said that the distance to travel to both cities for second interviews makes the intense week worthwhile. “Once callbacks start, interviewing can interfere with classes. It’s better to minimize that as much as possible.”
Chilton added that students participating in the process should be sensitive to other students around this time, and that no one should become concerned about how the process is going for them just because some students already are hearing back from firms.
“The length of the process varies for everyone because some firms and some geographic markets move on different schedules,” she said. “Be patient and persistent—follow up with your interviewers and contact Career Services for ideas on other firms that may not have participated in OGI that may still be eager for U.Va. students.”
Lawson noted that even if students don’t find instant success in the first phase of interviews, “There are plenty of excellent firms coming in September, which will give students even more options.”
• Reported by Robin Cook '07