Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Resume Real Estate

By: Kandice Thorn

If I told you that you have 500 square feet with which to design an apartment that you will live in, how would you design it?  How much space would you allocate to the bedroom versus the living room or the bathroom or the closet?  I imagine you would devote more space to the "more important" rooms and less space to "less important" rooms.  If you have a large shoe collection but don't cook, you might have a big closet and a small kitchen; but a gourmet chef who has little interest in clothing might do the opposite.

With a resume, you have a similarly small space - one page - on which to arrange all of your education and experience.  When organizing your resume, it can help to first identify the things that you think will be of particular importance to an employer, and those that will be least important, so that you allocate space accordingly.  If you worked for three years as an attorney at a law firm, that should take up significantly more space on your resume than a six-month internship you did while you were in school.

I see many resumes where this space allocation is not taken into consideration - everything is given equal weight.  Typically this results in resumes that exceed the one-page maximum that that seem scattered and unfocused.  By allocating space properly, your resume will be more focused, and the most important items/experiences will stand out to an employer.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Your First Networking Event

By: Kandice Thorn

I have been approached by several students recently who were preparing to attend their first networking events. I'm using the term "networking events" to broadly refer to conferences, panel discussions, "meet and greet" events, or anything else that will attract professionals with whom you may want to build a professional relationship.

Attending your first networking event can be intimidating. You might not know what to wear, what to say, or how to walk up to a stranger and start a conversation. The good news is that it gets easier every time you do it. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Don't put too much pressure on yourself. For the first event, it's okay to be an observer. Watch how people dress, how they interact with one another. Consider yourself a social scientist observing what groups of lawyers do when trapped in a conference room. You are gathering information that will be useful to you the next time around. 
  • It's better to be overdressed than under-dressed. Ideally, you'd be dressed perfectly appropriately for the setting. But if you aren't sure what "ideal" for a particular event, remember that being overdressed shows that you care and are trying to make a good impression; being under-dressed conveys that you are lazy or don't care. Most people are coming from work to attend networking events, so they will be dressed professionally. For most events that are held at a law firm, a suit will be appropriate for both men and women. For events at bar associations, a suit will also be appropriate, though you could opt for business casual attire (a collared shirt and slacks for men, a blouse and skirt or slacks for women). 
  • Don't be late.  It's not bad form to be a few minutes early.  While nobody enjoys being the first one there, it may give you a good opportunity to network with other early birds in a more low key setting. 
The most important thing is not to expect perfection the first time around. Networking in professional social settings is an art that takes a long time to perfect. Keep at it and you'll find your confidence growing rapidly.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

¿Como se dice? Language and the Job Search

By: Kandice Thorn

Doctors have instruments; engineers have numbers and stuff (or so I'm told); lawyers have language.  For a practicing lawyer, facility with language is not just a plus, it is a requirement.  For non-native-English-speaking LL.M. students who will be searching for jobs in the U.S., this means that getting up to speed on the language is of the utmost importance.

Fortunately, the LL.M. program provides tremendous opportunities for you to improve both your oral and written communication skills in English.  Here are five things you can do to improve your English quickly:

1.  Join a student group.  Collaboration requires communication - volunteer to spearhead an event for the student group and you'll find yourself with plenty of opportunities to practice your communication skills!

2.  Study in the library.  Just being in the environment can help you soak in the language - much more than sitting alone in your room.  And it's a bonus if you can take a coffee break every once in a while with an English-speaking friend!

3.  Write a paper.  It's a challenge to write a paper in another language, but you'll really find your English writing skills improved for the effort.

4.  Get out of your comfort zone.  It is certainly easy and comforting to hang out with a few friends from your home country who are going through the exact same things you are, but it's not going to improve your English skills.  Expand your group to include people from other countries - it will force the conversation to shift to English.

5.  Attend classes regularly.  This is mandatory anyway, but here's yet another reason why class attendance is important.  You'll find your comprehension growing rapidly as the semester progresses.  Each class you attend is an opportunity to expand your comprehension ability!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A New School Year

By: Kandice Thorn

I love the start of a new school year.  In my school days, each new semester represented a clean slate and a chance to do everything better - to study more, to make more friends, to stay more organized, to participate more in school events.  Today, as I watch our students returning for the new semester, the energy saturates the air and I am filled with optimism once again.

A new school year always represents a fresh start, but this has never been truer for us here at Fordham than it is this year, when we welcome students into our brand new Fordham Law School building.  And this year, we also have some exciting changes to the Graduate Professional Development Program that I want to call to your attention.

First, please check out our brand new website for current students at law.fordham.edu/llm/gpdp (click on "Current Students").  The new website is more task oriented and I think you'll find it much easier to navigate.

Second, you will find that our efforts are being redirected away from large scale programming in favor of a more robust website and more advising one-on-one and in small groups.  Our new GPDP Job Search Strategy Groups, open to current students, provide a forum for students to discuss various aspects of the job search and to keep each other motivated throughout the semester and the year.

I hope that as you all begin this new year, you are feeling inspired, optimistic, and ready to jump into your studies and your professional development.  I encourage you to delve into your job search early and energetically - we're here to support you!

Monday, April 28, 2014

End of Semester Advice

By: Kandice Thorn

It has been a few weeks since I've posted - apologies for the absence - and I cannot believe the end of the semester is already here.  We survived the extra long (and extra chilly) winter and it looks like our much-needed spring might actually make an appearance after all.  But before you all disperse to the ends of the earth for the summer or for the foreseeable future, I'd like to take this opportunity to offer a few words of wisdom to close out the semester.

For those of you who will sit for the New York bar exam in July: 
Go all in!!  You are putting a lot of time and money into this exam and it's not a test you can pass if you only put in half the effort.  Expect to study 8-10 hours per day, and schedule a nice vacation for yourself for when it's over so you'll have something to look forward to.  It's hard work, but hang in there and it will be over soon!

For those of you who will return in the fall:
Make the most of your summer.  Set goals now for what you want to accomplish and create a timeline to help keep you on track.  And don't forget to schedule a bit of time to enjoy yourself!

For those of you who will be moving far away:
Keep in touch!  Get involved with your local Fordham Law Alumni Association chapter, which at this point exist all over the world.

For those of you who will be graduating, but sticking around:
Keep in touch!  And if you are looking for a job in the U.S., remember that GPDP services and resources are available to you as an alum.

Thank you all for a wonderful semester!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Acquiring the Skills for Your Dream Job

By: Kandice Thorn

It's the classic job seeker's paradox: you can't get a job without experience; you can't get experience without a job.  This is not just a problem for students or recent graduates who are looking for their first "real" jobs; it can also be an issue for anyone seeking to change practice area or jurisdiction.  It can seem like the cards are stacked against you right from the start, so what is a job seeker to do?

Monday, March 31, 2014

CLEs as a Networking Venue

By: Kandice Thorn

I frequently mention that one of the best ways to network is to go where the lawyers go.  Since all practicing lawyers are required to complete a certain number of CLE credits every two years, lawyers can always be found congregating at Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses.

You do not need to feel like you have to "work the room" in order to make CLE attendance worth your while.  If you get only 2-3 contacts to follow up on (including, even, the names of presenters), you will be in a good position.  You can then follow up with requests for informational interviews or other questions relating to the presentation.

While many CLE courses are expensive, you should not hesitate to reach out to the organizers to ask if they award scholarships or fee waivers for students.  Many organizations will happily do this.  Check bar association websites for their CLE offerings, as well as private companies such as PLI (Practising Law Institute).

Don't forget to dress professionally when you attend a CLE.  Also be sure to show up on time and look engaged with the presentation in order to put your best foot forward.