Posts Tagged Jobs

It’s Like 10,000 Spoons, When All You Need is Knife

So the bar is over and now it is time to find a real job. I have about fifteen resumes/cover letters floating out in the jobosphere so far and plan to just keep sending more everyday. Job searching is tough. I have been lucky in the past. I graduated from undergrad in 2006 when the economy was great. I think I took that for granted. About a month before graduating, I sent out about five resumes, got three interviews and then two job offers. It was easy and not because I was some great asset that companies couldn’t live without, but because times were good.  My first job paid $50,000. Granted, that was in New York City, but still, that’s not terrible, especially considering my goal today is just to get paid in money. Seriously, if an employer wants to pay me in sandwiches, thanks for the offer, but no thanks. I don’t care if they will even let me pick where we buy the sandwiches. I still say no deal.

The job market is rough and while my school has tried to help, some of their suggestions have been frustrating. For example, my career advisor sent me an email with an exciting opportunity to make $10,000/year working for Americorps. I understand that Americorps is a non-profit organization, but I just have a problem getting behind the idea of being poorer than the poor people I am helping. How is that helping anybody? If I can’t even afford to buy gas to get to work, then I am not very effective at my job. And when I explained to the career advisor that I simply cannot take another financial hit like that, she seemed legitimately surprised that I would turn down such a great opportunity. And to be fair, maybe if I were 22, it would be, but now that I am 29 with no 401k, no savings, and living off of spaghetti and butter, well that offer kind of sucks. It’s barely a step above sandwiches.

Even worse are the “opportunities” that I am pretty sure violate the law. For example, a professor sent our class the following email:

I just got the following note from a buddy of mine.

‘Do you have any students who may be looking to “clerk” for the remainder of the summer and that you would recommend?  The term “clerk” is a euphemism in this case for doing largely clerical or administrative work (e.g. closing binders, filing ) either free or for a fairly nominal charge but getting exposed to a legal environment and padding their resume.’

Let me know if you have any interest in following up the “clerk” position.

The professor who sent this is a great guy and actually helped me get the only interview I’ve had so far, and he also seems to appreciate how sucky this “clerk” offer is, but seriously, this is just so bad. I hate that the economy has become so bad that employers now feel like they don’t even need to pay for basic secretarial work. I think we all need to band together. If you need experience, fine, go work for free, but seriously, if you have paid your dues, it is time that we demand pay checks that are not coupons, that are not IOUs, that are not football/concert tickets, but that are for actual legitimate money. Why is that such a crazy concept? I can’t pay my cable bill by sending them a coupon for one free frappuccino at Starbucks.

Anyway, I am getting a little off-topic with my rant. I actually just wanted to share something that I think might actually be funny someday. Despite my whining, I am actually at least somewhat lucky when it comes to this job stuff. I was an EIC of one of the law journals and despite how sloppy this blog may be, I am (surprisingly) confident enough to say that I am a good editor. And other people seem to agree because two of my professors approached me about helping them research/draft/edit books that they are writing. I agreed to help with both of the projects until I find full-time work. The problem, unfortunately, is that when you work for a professor, you are working for the university and thus you have to work for the salary the university sets. So I am now Smiling Sparkler, J.D., now working part-time for eight bucks an hour. I think minimum wage is $7.70 here. But that is not the part that will be funny someday–that is the part that is just kind of a bummer.

The part that I find funny is this:  I met with one of the professors on Monday and the book I am helping to write is about, I kid you not, why getting a law degree is no longer worth it for most people. So yes, ladies and gentleman, for eight dollars an hour, I am using my legal education to help write a book discussing why law degrees no longer have value. The irony is not lost on me.

At least my school can count me as employed when they turn in their stats to the ABA!

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Ways I Have Been Paid Since Starting Law School

Before I started law school, I had a decent salary. It was by no means great, but it included dollars and provided me the ability to pay my rent, utilities and most of my bills. I went to law school because I had this burning desire to be able to pay all of my bills. I later learned this was stupid. Below are the ways I have been paid since starting law school:

1. Sandwiches:
     My first job did not pay money, but I got a free sandwich every day.

2. Football Tickets:
     My second job also did not pay money, but I got field passes to all of the football games. These were non-transferable and I do not like football, but arguably, they were kind of cool because football is a big deal at my school. If I could have sold them, they would have been worth a lot of money.

3. Academic Credit:
    
My third job did not pay money, but I got academic credit for it. However, I had to pay for the credit, so I guess, technically, I paid them to be employed there. I think I’m doing it wrong.

4. Book Credit:
    
I’ve had several side jobs where I’ve helped edit and in one case write the entire first draft of a book. None of these have paid money either, but if you look on the very last page of those books my name is in there in the “thanks” section. These sections also include the author’s kids, spouses, publisher, friends, and in one case, a dog.

 5. Experience:
      
This applies all of the above jobs. They may not have paid money, but they now occupy space on my resume that will hopefully one day trick somebody into paying me money.            

 6. Reduced Loans:
      
Arguably you could say my current job pays money. I get a pay check, but it is through work study. If you are unfamiliar with how work study works, let me explain. Let’s say you are eligible for $10,000 in loans. If you apply for and get work study funds, your school gives you $9,000 in loans and then you earn the other $1,000 by working for the university. If you still have some of those funds leftover after graduation, the law school will let you use them over the summer. This is pretty much so they can say their graduates are employed. If this were twitter, I’d tag this: #gamingthesystem

7. References:
     
All the above-listed employers have told me that although they can’t pay me money, they’d be happy to refer me to their friends who would also be happy to not pay me money.

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