Are you interested in pursuing an alternative legal career, but not sure where to start? Trying to navigate through all of the available resources can leave you more confused than you were when you started. There are a number of valuable resources available to assist lawyers and law students who are looking for an alternative to the traditional practice of law, but before you dive into the online abyss, consider starting with a self-assessment, which will provide you with a better understanding of your individual aptitudes and interests. Then schedule an appointment with a career services counselor who can assist you with creating a strategic job search plan based on the results of your self-assessment. Check out the Riley Guide for a listing of career self-assessment tools, and send me feedback on your experience using the various self-assessments offered online. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, the CSD is open all summer, and we look forward to working with you!
All of us live with expectations, whether perceived or actual, about what we are “supposed” to do with our lives. Sometimes these expectations are really in-your-face expectations (think of your mother who tells you at least once a week that it sure will be great to have a lawyer in the family), but often they are unconscious or deeply buried expectations (think of how society places lawyers higher on the social hierarchtical scale than say, a grocery bagger). Often times, feeling a need to fulfill these expectations can keep up stuck in a career path that is not right for us.
Learning to identify the expectations that are being placed on your life is the first step in pursing a career path that is right for you. Sit down and spend some time making a list of all of the expectations that are being placed on you. These can be spoken or unspoken, real or perceived. They can come from anywhere – parents, siblings, extended family, spouse, high school friends, messages in society – anywhere!
Once you have identified the expectations you are living with, evaluate them. Which ones do you need to conform to (realistically, you do need a job that will pay the bills), and which ones are just a weight tying you to a career path that you hate?
1) Values – Personal standards that one looks to be met within a career. Some examples of values include: Security, Autonomy, Intellectual Challenge, Lifestyle, Having an impact on society.
2) Psychological Needs – A compelling drive operating from the unconscious. Some examples of psychological needs include: Control, Affection, Predictability, Inclusion in a group.
3) Communication Style – Patters for interacting with people and the environment. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator evaluates communication style.
4) Motivated Skills – What skills do you enjoy using? You can be good a something, but not enjoy doing it.
5) Career Interests – What fields are you interested in? Are you interested in working with certain people, entities, products or subject matters?
Information from Breaking Traditions, Work Alternatives for Lawyers (Donna M. Killoughey ed., 1993)
Where where you at 8:46 a.m. on Tuesday, September 11, 2001? Many of you reading this blog were in a middle school classroom, and may not have been old enough to fully understand the significance of the September 11th attacks when they happened. Even those of us who were older at the time of the attacks, may have been dealing with such shock and disbelief that we were not able to fully process the significance of what we were witnessing.
Hopefully when the nation reflects ten years later we are moved to appreciate the profound questions that the horrific events of 9/11/01 raise. What brings people, individuals and groups, to have so much hatred that they can plot and carry out savage attacks killing thousands? What big and small things am I doing every day to promote peace, understanding, and acceptance of people who are different from me?
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the 2,997 victims and 411 emergency workers – all someone’s son, daughter, husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, or friend – went to work for the very last time. If today was your last day to get up and go to work, would you be satisfied with what you have done with your life? Have you enjoyed your life? Have you done something you are proud of? Do you try to make a positive impact in your own small way each day?
Life is not a dress rehearsal – you don’t get a second time around. So if your life isn’t working for you, start doing something about it today. Make a changed life your remembrance to the victims of September 11th.
In reflecting on Steve Jobs’ announcement that he is stepping down as CEO of Apple, the Wall Street Journal printed Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Standord University. Jobs elloquently recounts how he followed his own path to pursue what he loved in life despite what appeared at the time to be roadblocks. In the address Jobs says:
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When you, like Jobs, get to the end of your professional career, will you be able to say that you did not waste your time by living someone else’s life?
So you know that you don’t want to practice law, but you don’t know what you want to do? The first step in any career exploration is to learn about yourself. Being self-aware will allow you to articulate why you want a certain career and why you are qualified.
There are many, many different self-assessment tests and indicators out there (many of which we will explore in this blog). So, where do you start? An easy, quick place to start is with an online personality test. So try a few and begin exploring! (Click on the links below to go to the test.)
- Human Metrics – Free Jung typology personality test. Provides a list of occupations most suitable for your personality type.
- Keirsey – Free personality test. Personalities are broken down into four tempermants. Tempermants are further subdivided into subcategories.
- My Plan – Offers 4 career assessment tests to help you find out what your interests are and understand how they relate to choosing a career. A complete report for all 4 reports is $19.95 or purchase individual reports for $7.95 – $9.95.
You can also make an appointment with Ginny Swartz in the Mental Health Counseling Department to take a comprehesive Myers-Briggs personality test.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
— exerpt taken from Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken
Each person has a unique set of abilities, talents and passions. I hope that this blog will help you to discover yours and use them in a way that helps to make your life richer – even if that means taking a different path than your law school classmates.
In order to find your path, you need to know what makes you unique. Have you done the self-analysis necessary to know what makes you unique? (If not, don’t worry – in coming blog posts we’ll explore how to do this.)
If you are unhappy in your chosen career, the feelings will be there whether you acknowlege them or not. So you might as well deal with the mushy stuff now. Discover what you love, what you hate, and what you can’t live without. Find the difference between what you think you should want and what you actually want. Learn how to make that vision you have become a reality.
There is not just one road to a fulfilling life. You may have to take some twists, turns and re-routes to find it. And what brought you fulfillment at one time in your life may, for whatever reason, no longer work for you. No two paths will ever be the same. So do not ever copy someone else’s; rather, learn from everyone’s and make your own. And that will make all the difference!