Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things that are more important than money

Here is a great post on "The Simple Dollar" about 15 things the author found are more important than money.

The short list:

Physical health
Mental health
Personal passions
Helping others
Personal growth
 At a time in my life when I have less money than I ever have, (seriously - this includes when I was 16 years old!) I can truthfully say that all of the above have become really vitally important to me.  And I have also noticed that as I concentrate on some of these things, and worry about finances less, that I am happier overall. 

While my hobbies have changed during this period of unemployment, I still have the time to do some things I really enjoy, like going for long walks, playing tennis and reading novels (from the library, of course).  I also am very lucky to have a wonderful man in my life, whose unwavering faith in me gets me through even the worst days.  My meditation practice keeps me sane and keeps stress levels down, and I have wonderful friends, both near and far. 

No matter what your situation is, take a minute to contemplate this list, and you will notice, as I did, that life is pretty good.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Networking FAIL

Tonight, I went with my friend L, a biglaw attorney, to a pro bono event in town.  The event was billed as a "celebration" of pro bono efforts by local attorneys, but it really was just a "hey, you should do pro bono work" push from local legal services orgs.  Nothing special, and nothing that I haven't participated in before when I was a project assistant to the law school's pro bono project. 

When I arrived, the temperature in the room was about 75 degrees.  Stifling in a fully lined business suit.  Ugh.  Talk about uncomfortable! Even worse, some of my classmates who are working at firms in the area were there, and it was slightly awkward.  When I am dealing with people who are naturally introverted like some of these people, I feel obligated to take the lead in conversations, asking questions about their lives and practices, even though I could care less.  I just hate awkwardness. 

During one of the "speeches" the presenter started saying, "I am going to go around the room and ask people to introduce themselves and say what organization they are with."  And I almost had a heart attack.  Was I going to have to admit to a room full of people with jobs that I didn't have one?  The thought made me sick to my stomach.  I know that lots of new grads are still looking for work, but I think I was the only person there without an organization's name under theirs on the stick-on name badges they gave us.  Well, the speaker meant that she wanted people from the non-profits who were angling for help to introduce themselves, and I was relieved.  Incredibly relieved.  For some reason, when I am around a bunch of people who graduated when I did, and 6 out of 7 have jobs, I hate being the odd woman out.

It made me feel like a loser.  Big time.


So much so that I passed up any further chance to network with those in attendance, and fled with my friend right after the speeches were done.  This is totally not like me, and is very telling as to my state of mind when it comes to my career these days.  And that is just....sad. 

I am attending a training session for the bar's "lawyer assistance program" on Friday, and I am going in there with guns blazing, and will try to network my butt off, unemployment be dammed!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ways to keep busy during unemployment

As my period of unemployment goes on (and on) I have gotten a little better at finding things to do that are more fulfilling (and slightly more productive) than the hand wringing and hoping that had been occupying me in the past 4 months.  What have I been up to?

  1. Twitter: I have started more carefully following the legal (ish) things that interest me and tweeting about them.  I think that Twitter can provide me with some good networking opportunities, if I am using it correctly. Part of that is tweeting about things that actually matter, rather than just a random mindstream of my thoughts. 
  2. Working out: I have been forcing myself to get out and walk every day.  I think it keeps no-job anxiety at bay.
  3. Connecting: Getting better at reaching out to friends that I haven't seen in a while, and not just those in the legal profession.  Regular contact with regular people is good for my outlook.  Overexposure to a bunch of other stressed-out recent grads is not. 
  4. Learning: I have signed up for some free seminars and CLEs. This will give me some new things to talk about at interviews and keeps my mind engaged. 
  5. Housecleaning: Getting my stuff in order keeps my sister's basement from feeling like, well, a basement. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Job interview on Monday went well

I had a job interview on Monday in the middle of the state to work at a legal services non-profit.  As usual, the interviewers tended to focus on the one area that I am lacking, rather than the many areas where I have a good amount of experience. 

When I was a 1L, I tried to get into the school's consumer law clinic.  Since consumer law is the one thing I knew I really liked when I was a paralegal, I thought that doing that clinic was a great way for me to expand my knowledge and get some real experience.  Before law school, I had worked on a few cases at my old firm, and really loved fighting sub-prime lenders who had sloppy bookkeeping practices and unfair loan terms.  However, I did not get into the clinic.  That year, they took 6 out of the 72 people who applied.  It was by far the most competitive clinic. What bugged me is that the students who were admitted to the clinic really did it "for the experience" and didn't have the same burning interest in the subject matter that I did.  After law school, NONE of them decided to pursue it professionally. 

And I missed the one opportunity I would have had to actually appear in court as a law student.  And potential employers never let me forget it.  At my interview, they asked why I didn't have this experience.  I explained that our school only allows clinical students to represent clients under the student practice rule.  Since my summer job was with the government, but wasn't supervised by a clinical professor, I wasn't allowed to appear in court.  I attended a lot of hearings, but never appeared on behalf of a client until an externship my 3L year.

Since about 1/3 of our students did clinicals, and I would guess that at least 60% got some court time through them, I am at a disadvantage with legal services organizations. 

At the time, our career advisers said this wasn't a big deal, but apparently it was.  I am hoping that the organization I interviewed with can look past this and see that I have a broad base of public interest experience and am passionate about doing this work. 

Otherwise, it will be more months of unemployment for me.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I am not funemployed!

I was reading an article about 20 somethings who are "funemployed" and the blogger who is taking credit for coining that term.  And I got mad.  The funemployed are young professionals who were laid off and are using their savings and unemployment compensation to do things they "always" (how long can that be when you are 26?) wanted to.  Like going to Turkey, and taking pilates classes and getting massages.  The article even discusses one guy who bought himself a $3,000 road bike when he lost his job.  WTF?

I am not sure if I am mad because I am not receiving unemployment compensation and can't join them, or if their cavalier attitude about not working and taking money from the government is just rubbing me the wrong way.  The article talks about these people using unemployment to "find themselves." Isn't that what they were supposed to be doing in college? 

Even worse is that this phenomenon and the publicity surrounding it may take away from the plight of those without financial resources to withstand extended unemployment, or those without health insurance, or people whose student loan creditors won't take no for an answer.  We are still out here America.  Living in our sisters' basements!

P.S. I get that the term funemployment is meant to make being out of work less depressing, but taking it to the extremes mentioned above is just ridiculous!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Yesterday was my Grandma's 85th Surprise birthday party.  She is an amazing woman, raising 4 kids by herself and supporting them with only a 9th grade education after my grandfather died just a few years after he returned from fighting in World War II.  Since "Grammy" lived with my family for about 8 years, my sister and I are closer to her than most of our other cousins, and we were thrilled to be able to celebrate this milestone with her. 

At the party, she mentioned again how proud she was that I was able to get a law degree, something that was unheard of during her youth, and quite rare even in my mother's generation.  Grammy isn't easily impressed, and a compliment from her is always heartfelt, and gives the recipient immediately warm fuzzies. 

When I was in law school, there were a few students like me who were first generation college graduates.  I wonder if they feel strange like I did, discussing their degrees & aspirations with family members who had no clue what goes into completing an advanced degree.  I hope that my cousins' children (and maybe my own) will see that they can do whatever they want in life, despite no one else in the family having done it before.  Corny, but true.