Kellogg’s Minority Networking Reception

Shortly after my classed ended yesterday, I attended a Kellogg Networking Reception hosted by Kellogg BMA, HBSA, and ABC student clubs  Like most networking events I’ve attended, this one was a lot more fun and productive than I originally expected.  While some of my friends and classmates were focused on speaking to the firms that they wanted to work at, my goal was to leverage people I’d met in the past and my knowledge of different industries and companies to speak with as many employers as possible at the event.

More than simply chatting with employers about my future prospects at their firm, my goal was to talk to as many employers as possible. I drew on my work experiences with life sciences companies to engage in conversations with health care companies. I leveraged my start-up and technology experiences to chat with one or two of the technology companies there. And I also chatted with a few consultants from the various consulting firms and recruiters from the banking industry.

But more than just meeting people for the first time, the night was also the result of many proactive engagements based on previous interactions I’ve had with recruiters. Among others, I spoke with the Bain recruiter, whom I met eighteen months ago at a Bain event in NYC (click here for my post on the Bain event). I also spoke with an old friend, who graduated from Kellogg and works at a healthcare company on the east coast. It turns out, she was the first person I met on campus during my campus visit in early 2008. (click here for my reference to meeting her).  And finally, I also spoke with the recruiter I met from Google, whom I met when I was out in Los Angeles just a couple of weeks ago (click here for my post on NBMBAA in Los Angeles).

In the end, my experiences reinforced the idea that the world can sometimes be very small and that networking with people in a wide variety of industries is fun and useful, especially when many of them were Kellogg alum. I was glad for the opportunity to meet new employers and speak with ones I’d met before. I look forward to more events like this throughout the fall.

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Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 Business School, Careers, Diversity No Comments

Good Article: Best Places To Start Your Career

Have you ever wondered where you will end up twenty years from now? Will you be the leader you always wanted to be? That maverick who went out and started your own company. That diplomatic leader who always had a way with people who eventually became CEO? Or the guy who always wanted to change the world and ended up running a non profit. On the other hand, have you ever wondered what would happen if you got stuck in middle management and missed the opportunity to do that. Or if you couldn’t navigate the waters and kept getting held back because the economy was bad. Well, for those new to the workforce, just last week, Bloomberg Businessweek came out with a list of companies that may provide the best places to launch your career.

Just last week, Bloomberg Businessweek came out with a list on where can you find the top undergraduate internship and graduation programs in the country. This is BusinessWeek‘s third annual list of the Best Internships, where the rankings are determined according to data such as pay and the percentage of interns who get full-time jobs, as well as feedback from career services directors across the U.S.

This is not to say that these are the only places to get good training. I personally didn’t work for any of these companies upon graduation and neither did a lot of very successful people I know. On the other hand though, it is a solid list of companies that will ensure that you get a solid summer program and a substantive experience over the summer. And that sounds like a good proposition to me, especially in today’s economic environment. Take a look at the article and see what you think.

The article is titled Internships – The Best Places To Start.

Click here to read the interactive rankings table.

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Saturday, June 26th, 2010 Careers 1 Comment

Careers Question: Does Size Matter? … Taking The Job That Pays You Most

We’ve all asked ourselves the question, “Does [paycheck] size matter” when we think about how much to consider salary, or even the number of people, when choosing our future employers. In most cases, the question probably seems like a no-brainer. More is better. After all, the bigger our paycheck, the better standard of living we have. And for those of us who are more philanthropic, the more we can give back to our communities. This idea is reinforced consistently at business and law schools, where today classrooms are infected with people that consistently choose higher paying jobs over lower paying ones and where campuses are plagued by well-paying employers who lure students away from public interest jobs and from firms who can’t compete.

This topic has long caused trouble for people during the recruiting process. On one hand a candidate has to consider their earning potential – their base salary, bonus potential, and ability to receive increases the following year. On the other hand, though, they also need to consider things like career trajectory, exit opportunities, and not only immediate compensation but also longer term earning potential. And in a recent question from one of my readers – a 1L at a smaller law school looking into law firms for OCI – I was asked what I thought about taking differences in pay into account when choosing law firms. This reader was specifically thinking about the gray area that exists between firms of similar prestige but that had both a different culture and in pay. See below for the question, and below that for my response.

Thanks for reading, everyone!

Dear Jeremy,

First off, you have an incredible blog! I really enjoy reading and think you give lots of quality advice. Thanks for sharing all your information and time.

I am writing to see what your opinion is in regards to choosing a law firm.  While I don’t want to base any decision solely on annual pay. It has come to my attention that the firm I am most interested in and which I think I am a good fit for pays a less than market in my region, by nearly $20k in annual salary and also a bit lower in bonus. As I look to go into OCI this fall, it has started to settle in a bit more and begun to create a bit of tension. I really like this firm and think it might be the better fit for me career wise. But I also don’t want to settle by working at a place that may not pay me up to my potential.

Generally speaking, I pretty much understand the tradeoff of choosing either way, but was curious to hear what you think about the situation.

Thanks in advance,


Dear (Name),

Thanks for your question and many thanks for reading my blog and writing in with your thoughts. I think you hit the nail on the head with the trade-off, but I’ll try to structure a few thoughts, and perhaps give you the path I might go down if I had a similar choice.

You’re correct that some firms do currently start first year associates lower than other firms. For example in the Chicago market, there’s a batch of firms that start associates at 160k and another group that starts associates at 145k, which is about 10% lower.  But in my view, numbers do not always tell the full story and may not be reflective of how things will look a couple of years from now. That’s because a number of firms reduced salaries in 2008 when the economy faltered. And while some of them have responded to the improving economy by scaling salaries back up to 160k, others haven’t done that yet, suggesting that not all the firms are paying their true future wages as of today. That’s not only a result of uncertainty about the future prospects and stability of law firms but for others it’s also a result of timing, since most firms only change salaries at the end of their fiscal year. For many firms the end of the fiscal year is during the summer.

But even if they didn’t adjust salaries up to 160k, I’d be careful not to let that fact would play too big a factor in my decision. In my experience, most students [unlike business students] don’t do enough research about the real nitty-gritty details of the different law firms, most of which can’t be captured by doing a few searches on Google or by reading a few articles on vault or Chambers. Because if they did do the due diligence, they’d probably realize that after a few firms are very different in terms of salary adjustments, culture, ability to make partner, flexibility, practice areas you may be interested in, and a host of other things. After all, conventional wisdom suggests that you’ll perform better where you’re happy and a better fit, right?

For example, I’ll start with salary adjustments. The first year base salary for most new associates tends to be fairly insignificant when you look at the longer term picture of senior associate or partner level compensation opportunities. And just like executives in Fortunate 500 corporations make more than 50% of their comp in equity, senior lawyers in firms make a good portion of their money based on business development and on other firm metrics. This is especially important at specific firms, like my firm Vedder Price, where the senior attorneys are rewarded higher than market for their business development efforts. At some firms that’s true only at the partner level and at other firms it’s true at the associate level – that’s where the research comes in. And even at the junior associate level there could be a real difference in salary potential, depending on if the firm you’re looking at gives a bonus in the upcoming year. A lot of the big firms haven’t given bonuses in the past two years, where some of the firms that pay 145k have, which had the effect of equalizing that initial difference.

But even if salary potential were not an issue, my view is that newly minted attorneys should not only consider the compensation opportunity but also their longer term career opportunities. I’ve personally always lived by the motto “Learn in your 20s and earn in your 30s.” That means choosing a firm that will best position you to not only make money but also to learn as much as possible and set you on to the path to attain your desired career and have the largest impact. For each person this firm and path will be different. For some it may be at a big firm, but for others it may be the smaller firm that pays less.

And finally, as you already noted, it’s important to think about all the nuances of a firm that may be important to you. After all, it’s often those nuances that drive lawyer after lawyer out of corporate law while others continue practicing for decades. This means look at things like size (of firm not paycheck), culture,  practice areas, and perhaps most importantly people you’ve met and liked. And not only do this at your target firms but do it at other firms too, so you can really size them up and actually understand the real differences. This last part is hard, but it’s also particularly important because it’s likely you’ll be working with these people once you get to the office.

So in the end, I might suggest that you not rely too heavily on the first year salary number. Instead consider it in context, context of the people, environment, longer term salary potential, and most importantly, your longer term career trajectory. And once you do your due diligence on the industry and firms, I suspect that you’ll have a better sense of what makes the most sense for you. On the other hand, though, I do not know your personal situation. And it’s always possible that a little extra cash may mean more to you than someone else, for more personal reasons. In those cases, it might make sense if the pay played a larger factor. But otherwise, I’d say keep the big picture in mind and make the best choice for the long term. For me that meant coming to Vedder Price this summer, where although the firm doesn’t pay the highest associate rate to among the firms in Chicago, the firm is very highly aligned with my past experience and future interests, not only in regards to law but also in terms of cultural fit and my policy interests.

Best of luck in the recruiting process! And please keep reading.

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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 Careers, Law School No Comments

Careers Question: How Important Is My Upcoming Phone Screen?

Anyone who runs recruiting probably thinks about the following question all the time. How can we distinguish the firm’s future stars from those who simply have good resumes?  Well that’s a good question. What many applicants don’t know is that employers often get hundreds, sometimes thousands of resumes. That’s especially true now, where the economy is slumping and where a record number of qualified applicants (and overall applicants) are out of work.  So today, recruiters not only have the task of sorting through resumes and screening candidates, but they also have the nuanced task of of interviewing more people and looking more closely at all parts of the interview process.  And in a recent question on GottaMentor I responded to a question about just that.

“Is my phone screen more casual than a typical interview” I was asked on the website. Conventional wisdom suggests that phone screens are more of an initial hurdle before the real deal in-person meetings. The meetings where you schmooze with with HR, try to prove fit with the team, and convince the line manager that you’re the future leader the firm’s been looking for. Years ago, before the internet skyrocketed the number of applications for open positions and before the economic downturn put more people out of work, this idea probably had a bit more validity. But those days are long gone.

Today, open positions not only get hundreds and even thousands of applicants, they also get a very large number of really qualified ones. And as such, all the parts of an interview are becoming more important. And so my belief is that the phone screen is no longer a “screen”. It’s a distinct and important part of the interview process, which means that you should prepare with the same level of seriousness that you would for an in-person interview.  You should practice the same questions, evince the same confidence and politeness, demonstrate that you’re both a leader and a team player, and be sure you have the same level of preparedness and relaxation. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Phone Interviews May Give You More Time. For one, you never know an interviewer’s schedule. And unless the recruiter is scheduled back to back all day, then there may not be a hard cut off in terms of time like there might be in person, where you are in an unfamiliar environment and where the interviewer will have likely scheduled your interview around their other important meetings. But on the phone, you can often take more of a lead, ask a few extra questions, and as a result, really collect and pass along good information. As such, the more prepared you are, the better conversation you might be able to have.

2. Interviews Are Often Holistic. Second, I think many candidates tend to over-compartmentalize the interview process. While on one hand an interview might be intended to be more of a screen to the next round, and may have little bearing on how things progress afterward, on the other hand it could instead lay the groundwork going forward. And if the firm has discussions on the what the screener thought about you the conversation, it could have serious impact on how people perceive you during the next round.I think this is especially true if you do really well, because then the recruiter will share all your information with those you’ll meet next. It’s also especially true at companies like Goldman Sachs and Google, where the firms keep intricate records of the people they interview, even if that interview is done by phone.

3. Good Leaders Are Always On. Third, my general belief is that you’re always representing yourself and your organizations during every interaction. That’s especially true during interviews where the person across from you, or on the other line, has the task of assessing you as a candidate. It’s also especially true today, where information travels at the speed of light speed and so the chances that what you say will be common knowledge at the firm are higher, not to mention where the chances of running to someone again at a career-related event or during another interview down the line are high. And so you should try to think longer term about the interviews you go through, especially if you intend to stay in the same industry.

Having conducted a large number of interviews  and gone on a pretty large number of interviews myself, I speak from experience with all three.  For many it may sound unreasonable to put so many hours into prepping for a phone talk, especially older candidates who are not used to putting in so much time just to use the phone. But from experience I would suggest that it’s not. After all, interviews, whether they seem difficult or not, demand a great deal of skill and agility. And that’s especially true if the interviewer is less experienced because in those cases you’ll want to be sure you convey all of the right information. As such, I recommend that you give the same time and effort that you would an in-person meeting so you can present yourself in the best light possible. Because in the end, you never know how things will play out.

Good luck!

** PS As I’ve mentioned in a few previous posts (post on Gottamentor and post on resumes), you might considering taking a look at when you get the chance. For now, though, here’s a sneak peak at another one of my responses from the site.

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Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 Careers No Comments

My First Day As A Summer Associate At Vedder Price

Do you remember your first day on the new job?  I bet you probably went in not knowing anyone but hoping to impress everyone.  And it’s also likely you also felt like you were running around frantically trying to fill out paperwork or scrambling around on your way to meetings and training sessions, hoping you wouldn’t be late. We’ve definitely all been there before. But consider doing that now, in what’s considered one of the worst economies ever. Where the stakes are higher and the odds of getting an offer are statistically much lower? Sounds nerve wrecking right? I thought it did too. But fortunately I realized that most of that stuff does not apply here at Vedder Price, a mid-sized and full service law firm here in Chicago.

At long last, one year after first learning about the firm, more than eleven months after first reaching out, five months after submitting my official application, three months after I got the good word that they wanted to have me for the summer, and just a couple of weeks after my law school final exams ended, I finally made my way to downtown Chicago to start my first day as a summer associate, which technically was the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend. And boy was my first day exciting!

Although my office is on the 26th floor (top floor), I spent most of my day switching between the other six floors in our downtown Chicago high rise building with views of the Chicago River.  I met with the recruiter I’d most recently been in touch with to say hello and chatted with another to get situated for the day. I talked with multiple people from HR and administration to learn about the business. I spoke various individuals from Accounting (went over the billable hours at law firms which is a whole new post for later), had discussions about professional development and learned the importance of compliance with the docket team. And I even met a former attorney now working in professional development. Turns out she is a friend and a former classmate of a really good friend of mine who works at Northwestern Law.

And after all of the back to back meetings with new people here at Vedder Price, I spent the latter half of the day in computer training, learning new things like our billing systems, firm directory (this is going to be extra useful this summer) and our email server.  And in the end, it was exactly the action-packed, training-focused first day I originally envisioned.

But despite an action-packed first day at work, mostly schmoozing and learning our new systems, I took off around 5:30pm that evening to hop on a flight to New York city for the second of my two conferences that week with MLT, which lasted the rest of the week. And six days later, after hours and hours of networking, fun, and meeting new people and employers, I headed back to Chicago for my second first day of work this past Monday.

I call it my second first day of work, because despite meeting lots of attorneys and learning some of the systems the week before, spending a week out of the office has a way of making you forget lots of things. So I spent the past Monday figuring out some of the same things I learned the week before – logging on to  my computer, tracking down passwords, reading the instructions on how to use my phone, meeting my secretary and firm mentors for the summer,  and last but not least reaching out to new people here at the firm, including a couple of Northwestern Law alum and another Kellogg JD-MBA alumni, class of 2009.

Monday definitely felt more chaotic than my original first day, in part because I felt a bit behind after being gone for the week but also because I’m making a point to meet lots of new people and take part in lunches with different attorneys at the firm in addition to everything else I’m doing.   The good news is that I tend to enjoy reaching out and meeting others, so despite being time consuming, it’s also been a lot of fun.  But even if I didn’t enjoy reaching out so much, everyone here at Vedder Price has made it pretty easy to  get to know people at the firm, so things would still be going well.  In fact,  on my first day here, I not only met a number of partners and senior partners, but I also had a good conversation with our firm’s chairman, Mr. Bob Stucker. In my case, though, I did reach out to many of them before ever stepping foot in the office, including Mr. Stucker, so it was an easy introduction when I dropped by his office.

In sum, my first day went well and my summer is definitely taking off!  Thanks to everyone at Vedder Price for ensuring my first few days have gone smoothly and for including me in pieces of their projects during my first week on the job. And I’m especially grateful for the latter considering that this summer will probably be a bit different from past ones when the economy was better and billable hours flowed like the Chicago river does during the summer.

It should be interesting to see how the summer turns out. Stay tuned !

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Thursday, June 10th, 2010 Law School 5 Comments

Good Friday … For Labor and Job Statistics

The US economy added 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest net gain in over three full years. That’s good news right?  Well, that depends on who you ask.  Some say that it’s clearly good news, and that we’re finally moving in the right direction. But others say that the stats are superficial, and that they don’t address the underlying economic issues. I’m not sure what the real answer is, but one thing is for sure. The job market does seem to have a little bit more life. And sometimes, momentum can be a good thing.

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan recently agreed in an interview with Businessweek and said “there’s a momentum building up” in the U.S. economy and the odds of it faltering have “fallen very significantly.”  The Obama administration agreed. White House economic adviser Lawrence Summers said that “job creation will accelerate.” And Christina Roemer, chair of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said suggested that there’s a “gradual labor market healing.”  And so it sounds like there may be a subtle wave of optimism that seems to be lingering.

That is definitely the case at business schools, where although recruiting numbers may be slightly down [(i) I don’t know for sure and (ii) It’s not over yet], they won’t be down by much. And during recruiting season, the students seemed to be pretty confident about their chances. Some of the ones I know did well. Many will be working at banks, consulting firms, Fortune 500’s, and start-ups. Even at the law school, things seem to be trending upward. It’s harder to tell exactly how things will play out, since law schools tend to do the vast majority of recruiting in the fall. But the message I’ve heard from most firms and organizations is that things will at least be a little better. I look forward to reporting the real news this fall.

That said, I don’t think these stories are necessarily compelling.

1. First, the administration has the herculean task of managing the negative sentiment that came from the past two year and balancing that with a more optimistm to keep people motivated and working hard, all while delivering a message that’s both truthful and transparent.

2. And more importantly, it’s not necessarily compelling because (i) the world of MBAs and JDs headed to become consultants, bankers, lawyers, fund managers, and non-profit leaders doesn’t reflect the overall economy. In fact, it’s really only a small fraction of the economy.  The average person doesn’t attend a top 10 law or a premier business school nor do they hunt for six-figure jobs in their mid twenties, if ever.  So many times, that person may end up jumping through a lot more hoops to get to the “promise land” of finding employment.  (ii) And not only do these individuals represent a small percentage of the overall economy but they also have the advantage of undergoing a highly sophisticated recruiting process that starts well before interview season begins. A process where employers have coffee chats, luncheons, mixers, and receptions months before recruiting ever begins. And a process where hundreds of employers accept resumes, come to campus, and interview dozens of students on campus, all day. And sometimes multiple days.  So taking a step back and looking at everything from a 30,000-foot, big picture view, I see that it’s a privilege to have the process in place.

So with a 30,000-foot view in mind, here are the objective arguments about the labor force, from both sides.

1. One on hand, the hard numbers from BLS do suggest improvement. (i) In total, employers added 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest monthly gain in three years. That’s always a good starting point.  (ii) Manufacturing payrolls have also reportedly increased. (iii) This story is also true for heath care employers, who added ~27,000 full-time jobs and ~40,000 private-sector temp jobs. (iv) Surprising is that construction field held steady for the first time, after losing nearly ~865,000 last year.  (v) Further, sources also suggest that the investment banks are finally starting to breathe again, and that broadening their scopes of services has helped them to decrease risk and squeeze out more revenues. (vi) And finally the unemployment rate is still down to 9.7%.

2. On the other hand, context suggests that the grass may only look greener. (i) I suspect we’re all aware that the number of jobs and hence total payroll numbers continue to skydive in financial industry. Venture capital and entrepreneurship numbers also remain low. (ii) However, even the numbers that are improving, according to US News, may really be more related to a reduction in labor force than an improving economy.  (iii) But despite these more nuance calculations, even real growth number, according to some sources, are lower than expected. For example, forecasters expected ~200,000 new jobs in March, not 162,000.  And that’s in spite of the fact that BLS reported more census takers this year than usual. Not only does that potentially positively change the accuracy of the reporting of the numbers but it also increases the number of actual jobs created.  And coincidentally, these happen to be six-month temporary jobs, not full-time permanent jobs.  While adding temp jobs is a good way for businesses to pick up and a good way for folks to earn a bit of cash, it also may not be indicative of any real economic trend.

In a recent post, Former Secretary of Labor said something similar. Rob Reich said “These are six-month temp jobs, and they tell us nothing about underlying trends in the labor market. It’s hard to gauge precisely how many were hired — probably between 100,000 and 140,000, although some estimates put the hiring as low as 48,000. Almost a million census workers will need to be hired over the next few months. Subtract these, and today’s job numbers are good but nothing to write home about.”

Conventional wisdom pinpoints that demand for such temporary employees increases during recessions and during recoveries, so employers can get the help they need, while also shining a spotlight on their budgets and reigning in expenditures. This may mean that we’re still somewhere in the middle.  Either way, there’s still a lot of uncertainty and unfortunately, nobody has the million dollar crystal ball to lead us into the future.

In light of that, I think I like some of the positive signs. After all, psychology plays a big part in market movements and perhaps a bigger one in its recoveries.  There are a lot of different ideas and competing opinions out there, a few are from experts, a good number from those who have agendas, a lot with a different perspectives than you or I have, and most of them with different levels and sources of research.

And in the end, how you frame the issues will affect [and possibly even change] your viewpoint.

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Sunday, April 4th, 2010 Labor Economics No Comments

I Finally Got The Call …

Hey Everyone,  I hope you are doing well and that you had a good weekend. My weekend has been busy. That’s because here at Northwestern Law it’s the week before spring break. This means that we have a final paper due in our legal writing class in just about a week. And because the final paper is worth nearly half our grade, everyone is really spending a lot of time on it.  Everyone also has lots of other smaller assignments to work on, which vary depending on the course. For example, I have two projects due in my Business Associations class this week: a group M&A timeline project and a country presentation project.  I also have to make a personal trip out of town at the end of the week to a meeting in New York City.  However, in the midst of all of this chaos, I also found some pretty good news.  And this past Friday, I finally got the call.

This Friday I finally got a call from an organization I’ve been pretty interested in all year. And it was good news.  Although all of you must be wondering where I’m referring to exactly, I won’t spill the details just yet.  But I will at some point after I officially accept on Monday. Considering that this has been such a tough year for legal recruiting and considering first years rarely get such positions anyways, I’m especially excited and grateful that things worked out. Given the good news, I decided to take Friday off, and I went to a Kellogg mixer on Friday evening and then out for a bit with a couple of JD-MBAs afterward. But unfortunately, I don’t have a whole lot of time to celebrate tonight. So back to work it is.

But stay tuned for more details and for a few posts about recruiting at Northwestern Law. Also, best of luck to everyone still finishing up their search.

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Sunday, March 7th, 2010 Careers, Law School 4 Comments

1L Networking Event With Employers

We’ve all had that feeling before. The sudden adrenaline rush that shows up right before you’re one chance to pitch a product to your most important client. That flood of nervous energy you can’t seem to shake, but instead paralyzes your body the moment the hiring manager walks out and says hello. The feeling that you must have miscalculated and that now you’re in just way over your head. This is how a lot of people feel when it’s time to network. So they stay as far away from networking as possible. But there’s just one problem. If you’re looking for a job, or want to lay the foundation for a future one, then networking is one of the most effective things you can do.

Now don’t get me wrong, some people do just fine without taking single stop into a networking event. And perhaps you can too. But at the end of the day, there’s not whole lot of benefit to running away from the crowds and deciding that you’d prefer to meet fewer people than your peers and competitors. Not only do you lose out on the chance to “build your network” as some people might say, but you also forgo the chance to meet some pretty interesting people, to hear about issues from different perspectives, to quickly catch up with current trends and changes, and to build a couple of good relationships along the way.  And equally as important, you skip out on the chance to help someone else to do the same.

Just last week the law school put on a pretty interesting networking event with a couple of our school’s partner law firms.  The point of the event was twofold. On one hand, it gave students an intimate and safe venue to speak with attorneys from various major law firms, all of which will come back to Northwestern to recruit next fall during OCI.  But the event was also pitched as a time for students to practice their networking skills. To think about how to ask the right questions, telling the right stories, and effectively engaging in small talk.  I personally suspect that the networking spin for the event was partially a response to this year’s economy.  Since less firms are doing hiring this year, specifically amongst first year students, I suspect that the school assumed it would be a good use of the event to give students time to practice interacting with attorneys.

Our careers office strongly encouraged students to attend the reception, and they flooded our Inboxes with email reminders.  And the students responded.  The final turnout reached max capacity.  And so sixty to seventy students put down their books for a few hours on a Wednesday night and made their way to the law school for the chance to speak to attorneys from McDermott Will & Emery, Perkins Coie, Ropes & Gray, and Winston & Strawn.  All four firms tend to spend quite a bit of time at Northwestern, and I personally ran into a couple of lawyers that I had met previously, including an employment attorney from Perkins Coie, who I had just run into a week before the event, as well as an attorney from Ropes & Gray, who I met last semester.  I also found the chance—right at the beginning of the event—to strike up conversation with an attorney from McDermott. I had seen this person at Northwestern once or twice before, but I never the opportunity to chat with her until this reception. We had a pretty good conversation and ended up trading a few Northwestern stories since she was an alum.

As this last conversation suggests, I personally tend to look at these events as a good way to meet new people, rather than a venue to gain an edge.  As a result, I usually tend to be pretty comfortable, and I typically end up talking to a pretty good number of people (recruiters and attendees).  You might say that one of my incentives is that because I’m personally interested in the Chicago market, there’s a good chance I’ll run into many of the people again. But I’m not so sure that’s the case. For one, that idea does’nt really crossed my mind at these events.  Instead, I usually tend to spend more time thinking about the things I mentioned above. That I’m in a venue where the odds of meeting interesting people, building new relationships, and learning are high.  And it’s also a great venue to be a resource for others, as people often rely on you for pieces of information, need you to introducte them to someone you know (including recruiters), or maybe they just need a spark of inspiration, which they might find because of your energy or generosity.

In any event, the reception turned out to be pretty fun, and for me was well worth the time.  For others though, it’s hard to say whether they feel the same way.  I suspect that many of the 1Ls would say that the event was not worth it.  There were fewer attorneys that showed up than expected, there were a lot of law students at the event so face time with the attorneys may not have been optimal, especially for the less outgoing, and frankly the event was “practice” and and not the real thing.  But I do know a few who enjoyed the experience.

Also, most of the students at the event were 1Ls and not 1Js (term for first year JD-MBAs). While some JD-MBAs do participate in the OCI process, many decide not to work full-time during the first summer and instead take classes at Kellogg and the law school. But even if that weren’t the case, the JD-MBAs tend to be pretty skilled and comfortable at networking events, so many of them may not have found this “practice” event useful.  But personally, I tend to think these events are gold mines. Less so for the hope of reeling in that rare six-figure salary job offer and more because it’s a great chance to meet (or see again) a lot of people and recruiters, the majority of whom are there to do the same thing. And in the end, there is no doubt that there will certainly be students who find jobs and firms who find employees along the way.

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Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010 Law School 2 Comments

Job Search Tips From WSJ (As Posted By Marquis Parker)

Hey all, I hope everyone is enjoying your holiday seasons so far. After chatting with a couple of friends this holiday season, it sounds like a lot of students, and even professionals, are spending a significant amount of time updating resumes and cover letters during the break. So I thought I’d pass along a quick article on job search tips from the WSJ, an article that was originally posted last week by my fellow Stanford blogger, Marquis Parker.

By now, I suspect that most of my MBA followers are familiar with Marquis Parker. If not, you should take the time to be. Marquis is Stanford GSB alum (Stanford is our connection) and after graduating from b-school he’s spent time at Mckinsey & Co and in the private equity space. Ever since starting at the GSB, Marquis has been one of the best MBA bloggers out there. In fact, he was part of the reason I began my blog. In a recent post, Marquis passed along this article about job search strategies, so given a couple of recent conversations I’ve had with classmates, I thought I’d do the same here.

Click here to see Marquis’ blog post. I’ve also copied the intro to his post below:


Excerpt from Marquis Parker’s Post from the WSJ

“As many of you know, the global economic downturn has left many people around the world, particularly in the U.S., without full-time employment as we approach the holiday season. This is an issue that has been top-of-mind for me lately because of a few friends who have been on the job market for a while and are starting to wonder if they’ll be able to find a gig about which they can be happy. As a result, I’ve been keeping an eye out for job-related resources and recently came across two articles from The Wall Street Journal’s website that could be of interest to folks in the middle of a job search. The first article provides advice on how to improve on a resume and the second gives tipcs on how to kick-start a job search that has stalled. If you’re looking for a new gig, both of these articles should be useful to you.”

Title: “Creating a resume that sells”
Author: Sarah E. Needleman
Source: The Wall Street Journal Online,

Excerpt from intro text:

“In today’s cutthroat job market, having a top-notch résumé is critical to success. But there’s a host of conflicting advice about exactly what makes a good résumé—and not every tip is right for every industry. To find out what hiring managers look for most in these documents, The Wall Street Journal introduces Résumé Doctor, a new feature in which recruiting experts and hiring managers critique readers’ résumés and suggest ways to improve them.”

Title: “Giving a stalled job search a jump-start”
Author: Sarah E. Needleman
Source: The Wall Street Journal Online,

Excerpt from intro text:

“For many out-of-work professionals, finding a job in today’s market requires far more effort than it did in the past—and a lot more stamina. Last month, the Labor Department reported that it takes unemployed workers an average of 27.2 weeks to land a job, up from 19.1 weeks in September 2008 and 16.7 in September 2007. But career experts say there are several ways job hunters can revive a stalled search.

Taking a highly targeted approach, as Ms. Jones eventually did, is one strategy. Another is to focus on obtaining leads to unadvertised positions where the companies seek out their own applicants. Relying solely on job-board listings, which have been shrinking, isn’t enough these days. There were roughly 3.3 million jobs advertised online last month, compared with 4.4 million in September 2008 and 4.7 million in September 2007, according to the Conference Board, a research firm.”

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Thursday, December 24th, 2009 Careers No Comments

Recruiting Tool That Provides Company Salaries, Interview Information and Reviews

Hey all, I hope everyone is enjoying December so far and that you have fun plans with family and friends for the holiday break. As I mentioned in my last post, I just finished my first semester law school final exams a couple of days ago, and just yesterday I left Chicago for the warm weather of sunny Arizona. But sounds like I was one of the lucky ones. Despite a small delay on the runway, I was able to escape the winter snowstorms in Chicago. Unfortunately that was not the case for my classmates.

Upon reading the news, it sounds like a lot of people had delayed flights. In fact, many of my friend never even took a step on the plane. I hope all those headed back east, especially out to Philadelphia and Virginia, are able to make out soon.  The break is far too short to have to miss a few days due to “odd” weather conditions. Also, just wanted to give a big congratulations to those of you who just finished your first semester of law school or business school, It’s definitely a big accomplishment, and from what I hear it only gets a lot easier from here. I’ll let you all know if that’s true at Northwestern once the semester begins in a few weeks.

Anyhow, the point of my post here was just to pass along a quick website to you guys. A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a company named Glassdoor (Click Here for Website) If you have not heard of the company yet, you should take a minute to browse the website. You’ll see that it has a lot of pretty interesting career-related information, including reviews of companies, interview information, and employee salary levels, all of which are pretty important to anyone in the job market. While I don’t know enough about the company to vouch for every piece of information, most of what I’ve seen doesn’t seem too far off. To see most of the information, you’ll have to sign up with a user name and password. But that’s an easy process, and I’ve found the information here to be well worth the five minutes it takes to sign up. And the good news is that the site works for almost everyone, as there’s information here for those both in business and those in law.

It looks like Glassdoor also just came out with a Best Places to Work in 2010 list (Click Here for List). I’m not sure exactly how they analyzed the companies to come up with the rankings, but I suspect it has something to do with the individual feedback on the site. Have a look when you have a chance.

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Sunday, December 20th, 2009 Careers 1 Comment

Internship Search

At last … it’s almost time for the students here at Northwestern Law to begin the daunting task of trying to find their first year summer internship. Because of a national law that says firms can’t recruit at law schools until December 1, our Career Management Center doesn’t allow companies to start focusing on first years (1Ls) until the end of the semester. Unfortunately, this means that all of the 1Ls will be stuck trying to fit their internship search in right as finals are approaching, and after that finishing up applications over Christmas break. I can understand the rationale of the rule, because it gives us students time to get accustomed to school, to meet their classmates, and get used to the workload without worrying about the job search right away. But it’s going to be tough to balance sending out resumes with studying for exams, because there is still so much work to do before finals.

About a week ago, Northwestern Law had a law firm reception in our atrium, where a large number of law firms from various practices came to talk with the students one on one. Personally I talked a lot with the bigger firms Skadden and Kirkland, prominent Chicago firms like Jones Day and McGuire Woods, and also with a couple of prestigious smaller firms like Miner Barnhill. I’m also personally interested in the Chicago mid-sized firm Vedder Price but was disappointed to see that they weren’t at the event. At this point, since all of the resume drops for companies will start the middle of next week, I’ll spend a decent amount of my time the next few days writing cover letters and customizing my resume to what these companies might be looking for.

It should be interesting to see how things will turn out this year. For the law students, this year is going to be pretty tough. Both law firms and government agencies are cutting back on hiring this year because of budget cuts, so it sounds like there will be a lot less jobs to go around than usual. This means first semester grades will be more important than before and applying to places where you are a good fit will be critical. Overall, I think it’s definitely important for 1Ls to do something interesting this summer, that way during OCI next year, students will have something to talk about as they’re interviewing for the summer internship that will probably turn into their full-time job. This will be especially true for those students who’s grades might be on the margin.

As a JD-MBA, my experience is going to be a bit different. While many JD-MBAs participate in the OCI process, many don’t work full time during the first summer. This has noting to do with our success levels in the OCI process, but rather it’s because here in the Northwestern JD-MBA program, most take a full load of classes during the summer, so the folks who do work, have a delicate balancing act. Because of this, many JD-MBAs prefer to get creative during first summer. Some work part-time, others work only during the time that we have off, and many decide not to work at all, while a select few do decide to work full-time. From a recruiting perspective, employers are really familiar with our program, so they understand, when students choose not to work. It will also be interesting to see where my JD classmates end up. I’ve talked a lot with my classmates and my section mates, and everyone seems to have lots of diverse career goals, and this year most students are keeping their options open.

My one piece of advice to everyone who’s applying to school this year, JD or MBA, is to do the same. Understand the market, do your research and keep your options open if need be. That means understand the recruiting market. Know how your target industries and companies are being affected. And start researching firms and organizations that are good fits and align with your background as early as possible. And also, try to be flexible to some extent. Personally, I’m planning to participate in OCI this year, and I’ve found a couple of select organizations that I am currently interested in. Stay tuned to see how things turn out.

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Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 Careers 1 Comment

Mckinsey & Co Reception

Just last week, I attended an evening reception at Mckinsey & Co here in downtown Chicago. The event was a reception for first year MBA students, and although I’m not at Kellogg this year, and won’t technically be a first year at Kellogg until next year, one of the recruiters sent me a personal invite to attend. So I took her up on her offer and I decided to bring a couple of my JD-MBA buddies to the reception along with me.

When it comes to management consulting, and probably business in general, McKinsey is the most well-known of the firms. The name certainly carries a bit of prestige with it, and they definitely have a huge presence in Chicago. Over the past year or so, I’ve been to a couple of McKinsey events, and they’ve all been a lot of fun and drew a pretty unique crowd of folks with different professional backgrounds and interests. So I was pretty intrigued to see how this event would turn out.

This reception happened to be the most informal of the events I’ve been too. It took place in the corner room of a medium sized restaurant downtown near the water. It was a pretty intimate crowd, maybe 30 or so MBAs from both Chicago Booth and Kellogg. There were three of us 1st year JD-MBAs from Northwestern and probably 6 or 7 McKinsey consultants.

The entire night was basically a meet-and-greet. No presentations. No speeches. And no forced networking. The McKinsey team spread themselves out around the room and hung out with us over some appetizers and drinks while chatting with us about the firm and about school. As usual, the consultants I met at the event were really accomplished and well rounded with diverse backgrounds and experiences. I met one consultant with a background in investment banking, another who worked at a competitor consulting firm before Mckinsey, another who was in marketing before business school, and another who worked in the education sector before business school.

I ended up chatting with one of the local Chicago consultants for about 45 minutes. She was an engagement manager at the firm and a Kellogg grad a couple of years back. We talked a lot about Kellogg and about some of the current projects at the firm, which was interesting since I have a few friends there now and was familiar with some of the work she brought up. We also talked a lot about law school, and she had a lot of interest and insight into my experience, given her husband been to law school a few years ago. That said, McKinsey is a big supporter of hiring from law schools and especially from JD-MBA programs. They are the only firm that has a team of recruiters dedicated to specifically to law schools, which should come as good news to current and future JD-MBAs here at Kellogg.

As a 1st year JD-MBA at the law school, I won’t be interviewing for consulting jobs this year. But it’s nice to get a head start on the networking and learning about the firms, because next year at Kellogg, we’ll be going to dozens and dozens of these types of events over the year. The whole process of getting a consulting job can be tiring and a bit intimidating for some, just like applying to business school and law school, but starting the process now should make things a little easier next year. I also think these events are a great way to meet new people, including both at the firms and at the local business schools. There’s always a lot of people with really interesting backgrounds, so there’s always the chance to strike up some pretty interesting conversations, and I always find at least one unique connection at every event. At this event, I actually ran into a good number of people that I had already met over the past year so it was nice catching up with them. It will be interesting to see where everyone ends up this summer.

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Thursday, November 19th, 2009 Careers No Comments

Goldman Sach Presentation

A couple of week ago here at the law school, the private wealth management team from Goldman Sachs came out to give a presentation. Contrary to Goldman’s usual pit stop down at Kellogg, this time they decided to come and recruit specifically here at Northwestern Law. It’s pretty odd that they were here on campus at the law school, since companies like Goldman spend the majority of their time on the business school campuses.

But the Goldman buzz definitely got around campus quickly when the news first came out. A lot of people were talking about the session, and multiple emails went out to our listserve in the last days before the event. The session took place at lunch on a Thursday. Minutes before the session started, the room quickly filled up. It’s no surprise that a large number of the JD-MBAs were in attendance, many of them from my year. Events like these are usually much more attended earlier in the year before classes get hectic and midterms begin.

A couple of senior Goldman advisors stood up in front of the room, introduced themselves, and then gave a mini presentation. All of them were lawyers and a couple had JD-MBAs. It was pretty obvious that the presentation was canned, and the presenters seemed more interested in giving a small pitch and answering question than making a formal presentation. Goldman’s pitch was that both law students and experienced lawyers are very well-prepared to enter the private wealth management field, given their strong communication, negotiation, and client management skills.

I don’t disagree with the pitch. But I also think there’s a bit more to it. In my personal opinion, I think Goldman was also trying to cast a wider net for the private wealth recruiting team. For one, in many business schools private wealth often takes a back seat to investment banking, which has long had the lure, appeal and prestige to attract MBA students. This has long been the case, and I don’t think anything has changed even in this economy. And second, I think Goldman is absolutely correct. In the long run, lawyers do make really good private wealth advisors. This is because they have both the soft client skills to do well and in the long run they bring clients with them to make Goldman a lot of money.

Overall the session went pretty well. Despite a seemingly canned presentation, the advisors gave a lot of information, answered a lot of questions, and were available to chat after the session. I have a JD-MBA friend here at Northwestern who is in his final year in the program now. At the time of the session he was preparing for a Goldman interview but hadn’t had it yet, so he made a point to chat with the advisers after the presentation. Turns out that just earlier this week, he finally received and accepted his offer. This is proof that sometimes going to all of these info sessions can pay off during recruiting time, especially if you target the right sessions.

In my opinion, it’s definitely nice to get an offer at Goldman this year no matter which division you work in. Kudos to one of my JD-MBA classmates for reeling it in. Law school recruiting for first year students has barely started here at Northwestern for first years. On 11/1 Northwestern Law was permitted to meet with students to advise us on our career options. In December, we’ll finally be able to start sending out applications and going through the formal recruiting process. Should be an interesting couple of weeks as things start to progress. Check back for more recruiting updates along the way.

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Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 Careers No Comments


After a two week hiatus from posting, I’m finally back to writing again. As of late, life has been mostly studying and trying to keep up with the hectic pace of law school, so the past two weeks have gone by quickly. But I’ve got a few pieces of interesting information about the last two weeks, including midterms, classes, and the semester in general.

In the period, I’ve taken midterms for all my classes, gone to review sessions for the same classes, started the recruiting process, done a few mock interviews, started my final paper for my legal writing class, and began preparing outlines as study tools. Also, just around the corner is Thanksgiving Break and after that finals. It seems like the semester is flying by.

Despite how quickly the semester is progressing, we really have been learning a lot about the law. We generally read several hundred pages of text per week, comprised of dozens of cases on various topics. Some of the cases are interesting and some are dry, but most of us are starting to pick up the higher-level concepts more easily and conversations in class are flowing pretty well. This seems to be especially true in our Criminal Law and Torts classes. Also, the good news is that ten weeks in, most of us are starting to read cases faster, take fewer notes, and prepare for class more quickly.

We’ve also had lots of great guest speakers the past few weeks, including a couple of judges, attorney generals, law firm partners, government officially and public interest guests. Many of the students regularly attend these functions. Just last week there was a public service employers reception that a lot of people in my section went to.

In addition to all of that, we had a couple of important JD-MBA meetings. In one meeting last week, we learned more about planning our schedules for next semester and beyond. Ultimately, we have requirements at both the Law School and Kellogg, so getting everything finished can sometimes be a tricky. The Director of Academic Affairs and a panel of older JD-MBA students gave us the inside scoop about classes and the paths JD-MBAs often take. All of the law students, including the JD-MBAs, get to choose two electives next semester. I’m personally thinking about taking Business Associations (i.e. Business Law) and Employment Law but I’m not positive yet. Most JD-MBAs take Buusiness Associations because it’s a prerequisite for a lot of courses we’ll want to take when we come back to the law school our third year. We have a list of about 25 electives to choose from.

This week, the JD-MBAs are meeting to talk about how to approach working this summer. Unlike students at the law school or at Kellogg, the JD-MBAs take courses during their first summer. Having the option to take classes is nice for those who don’t want to work. It will be a delicate balancing act for those who do want to work, because we’ll have to balance working with classes, units, and fullfilling requirements. I’m hoping to be in the latter group, but it will be interesting to see where everyone ends up.

I plan to address many of these things more specifically in a series of separate posts this month. Stay tuned!

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Monday, November 9th, 2009 Law School 3 Comments

NBMBAA Conference Recap

I just got back from New Orleans this past weekend from the NBMBAA conference. I had an incredible time. Thousands of people came from all over the US, enthusiastic to network with other business school students, optimistic to make that one special connection with a recruiter, and eager to get a competitive advantage and get one step closer to a full-time, six-figure dream job after graduation.

I arrived on Thursday early morning and after checking into my hotel, went straight to the career fair. Upon walking into the convention center, I saw hundreds of people scrambling to the registration room, all dressed in their best suits and in their shiny black shoes. Some were quickly running through their resumes before heading to talk to employers, others scrolling through emails on their blackberries, and others looking at the maps trying to find their target companies.

The crowd was incredibly diverse. It not only consisted of Black MBAs but also many of the world’s diverse cultures–Asian, Indian, Hispanic, White, and more. It was good to see that there were also quite a few women at the conference. Professionally, the people were mostly business school students.

Having been in MLT and having gone to lots receptions and admitted student weekends over the past year, I’d had the chance to meet a fair number of these people before, so it was nice to have a chance to see them all again. MLT was there in full force. Not only did dozens of MLT’ers from my class come out, but people from other classes came too. MLT also had a booth right near the front door. It felt like a mini-reunion.

Kellogg kids were also abound at the conference. Being in downtown Chicago at the law school, I don’t get to go down to Evanston as much as I’d like to, so it was nice to get together with everyone. Like MLT, Kellogg had a booth at the conference, and I spent a good deal of time there hanging out with the admissions team as well a with all the 1st and 2nd year students. About 15 or so other Schools were also in attendance, including the University of Chicago Booth, which is pretty close to Kellogg here in Chicago.

But despite all of the mingling, make no mistake about it, the highlight of the conference was Career Fair. Over the three days, more than 400 employers came out to actively recruit MBAs for summer internships and full-time positions. And this year, in these “odd” economic times, people didn’t take it for granted. My Kellogg counterparts were definitely on point. I chatted with them a lot about their job searches, and most of them had 1st and 2nd round interviews at the fair.

This fact highlights the biggest difference in recruiting at business schools and law schools. My MBA counterparts were hustling around for almost the entire conference, because for them, recruiting began before school even started. However at law school, we don’t start recruiting until December, which supposedly gives us a chance to focus more on our school work. As such, there isn’t much pressure for us to scramble around to find a job. As a JD-MBA I felt like I was part of both worlds. I was really interested to watch the recruiting process from the front line, so I definitely chatted lots of firms. But as a current law student, I didn’t feel any of the stress the MBAs felt, and I didn’t target any interviews during the conference.

Instead, my approach was to get a bird’s eye view of the recruiting environment and to see how all the companies fit into the puzzle. I spent my time talking to companies about the economy, asking questions about their financial well-being, and getting their perspectives on diversity. Most employers were quite willing to talk, especially since I probably came off as quite sincere given I didn’t have a hidden agenda of getting hired. On a couple of different occasions I was able to engage recruiters for 45-60 minutes at a time, whereas most people had closer to 10-15 minutes to make a pitch.

I was also able to learn a lot about a couple of not-for-profits who were at the conference. I spent a good deal of time with Education Pioneers and The Gates Foundation and went to their reception on Thursday evening for a couple of hours. The people at both organizations were fantastic, and I look forward to spending a lot more time checking out both organizations in the near future.

After a long two days of watching people run around looking for jobs, the career fair finally ended Friday at 5pm. At that point a lot of people went home to rest for a few hours before a night out on the town. I decided to head over to a private BCG reception at the local W hotel to mingle with some of the firm consultants. I’d met the Director of Diversity Recruiting a few times before, but it was good to see him again. After that, I went to the awards ceremony at another hotel to pick up my NBMBAA scholarship award with the other ten or so winners. As you might guess considering we were in New Orleans, the ceremony was more of a big celebration than anything, and it was a great lead-in to an unforgettable night on Bourbon Street.

I had a flight back to Chicago Saturday morning. I was on a flight with an MLT buddy who I wrote essays with in Boston, and I arrived home just in time to finish writing my Legal Writing paper for Sunday afternoon. It was quite a long weekend, but it was definitely worth the time. If you’re thinking about going to the NBMBAA conference in the future, you should definitely consider attending. The caliber of people are high, the opportunity to learn about companies is paramount, you’ll probably be in a pretty lively city, and the employers will likely be aggressively recruiting, which is especially nice in these “odd” economic times.

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Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 Business School, Careers, Diversity 3 Comments

MBA Conference in New Orleans

Tomorrow at 5:45am, I’ll be hopping on a plane to head to the National Black MBA (NBMBAA) Conference. The NBMBAA conference is about recognizing the achievements of blacks in business schools around the country. What an incredible opportunity to meet many of the future minority business leaders from all across the top business schools in the US.

As part of the conference there is a 2-day career fair. Over 400 companies will be there (click here for a partial list), including Accenture, American Express, Google, Booz Allen, Pepsi, Deustche Bank, and Bank of America, just to name a few. Many of these companies will be interviewing MBAs for summer internships and for full-time positions. I won’t be doing too much interviewing at the conference because of the nature of my JD-MBA program, but I do have a short list of companies that I plan to chat with a bit and to keep in touch with over the year. I always find it a lot of fun to learn about companies from recruiters, who usually know more about their companies than anyone since they are the gatekeepers. I’m also quite interested in the strategies that companies employ to attract and retain talent and their approaches to increasing diversity, given my high interest in labor issues.

I don’t know how many of you have been to these types of leadership conferences, but they’re usually worth the trip. Not only is it the perfect venue to meet lots of ambitious and talented people and a way to position yourself closer to a great summer job, but it’s also a good venue to enjoy your experience in a new and interesting city. Personally, I’ve never been to New Orleans before, and I’m excited to explore the city.  The good news is that I’ll see a large number of my MLT friends and Kellogg friends at the conference. It’ll be nice to reconnect with everyone.

I’ll be in New Orleans on Thursday and Friday, and I’ll fly back to Chicago Saturday morning, just in time to get back to my reading for law school and finish up a legal paper by Sunday.

Stay tuned for an update on the conference!

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Thursday, September 24th, 2009 Business School, Networking No Comments

Are You At A Recruiting Disadvantage Because of Summer Classes In The Northwestern JD-MBA Program

Hey all, so I recently received a good question from a prospective Northwestern JD-MBA applicant.

“I know that the Northwestern accelerated program requires you to be in law school for the first summer. Do you feel that puts you at a disadvantage with interning and securing a job post-school?”


So, as an entering first year student, I’ll confess that I’m not an expert on all JD-MBA career paths, but I’m happy to give my opinion based on my research and based on talking to dozens of students and alumni of the program.

So my first comment is that JD-MBAs rarely have issues during the recruiting season. Every summer and every year well before graduation, 100% of JD-MBAs are employed at top firms. While this year may prove to be a bit different due to the “odd” economic times, I suspect JD-MBAs at Northwestern will still do quite well.

Here are a couple of statistics from this year’s summer.

-19 out of 23 are working at law firms (all best of the best firms)
– Most of those have spots at Cravath, Kirkland, and Skadden

– 4 of 23 are working at businesses
– Of those, 2 are doing consulting, 1 is at her family’s company, and 1 is doing investment banking

But don’t let the numbers fool you, a pretty large number of people in the program are interested in business. From my conversations, it seems like the breakdown towards law is 1) slightly exaggerated due to the economy and 2) weighted towards law since not doing a legal internship precludes you from getting a law job after graduation, whereas you can always go back to business if you don’t like law during the summer. That said, the stats are not totally far off. 19 of 23 is 82% this year, though I’ve heard the usual is around 3/4.

Upon graduation, the final split is usually closer to 50/50, and graduates generally go to premier law firms, top three consulting firms (M/B/B), investment banks, VC/PE, and other. The other category is usually pretty interesting and has included companies in media, sports, government (federal and state clerkships), non profits, real estate firms, and hedge funds. With options like these, I think it’s fair to say that there is no disadvantage at all to taking classes the first summer. I say enjoy the time in coursework, explore diverse career opportunities that you may not have otherwise thought about, and engage in topics you are interested in, whether it’s at the law school or at Kellogg, and whether it pays really well or not.

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Saturday, August 29th, 2009 Uncategorized No Comments

New Employment Stats and How Some MBAs, JDs, and Others Are Fairing

As everyone probably knows, the newest economic reports tell us that the official unemployment rate dropped from 9.5% to 9.4%. There seem to be two ways people are thinking about these numbers. Some people are happy to see the improvement and are growing optimistic about the future, especially those people with the MBA or JD qualifier. But there are an equal number of people who don’t feel that way and predict that things will continue to get worse. Which way of thinking is correct?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not an expert on labor issues, but I suspect that one’s perspective has a lot to do with what industry you work in, what school you went to, how long you’ve been at your current employer and your employment status. After chatting with lots of students, career centers, and professionals about career opportunities as a soon-to-be graduate student, my perspective is that the situation is still worse than it may seem.

First, the unemployment stats are not all inclusive. If you think about it for a minute, the unemployment stats don’t include those:

1) forced to work PT due to economic circumstances, but prefer FT work
2) with reduced FT hours. In some places FT is 32 hrs (20% reduction)
3) with expired unemployment benefits who are not current looking for work (i.e. maybe taking CFA exam, studying for Grad Tests, working in free internship, etc)
4) who’ve found new jobs that pay less or are not career jobs
5) headed back to school to avoid the economy (MBAs and JDs)
6) recently graduated in May 2008/9 that want to enter the workforce but haven’t found jobs yet (students, including MBAs & JDs)

If all these people are included, I suspect the “unemployment” numbers would raise dramatically, maybe to 2x what they are now.

Second, I’ve talked to a lot of MBAs since April, and there were a lot more than I would have expected that were still looking for jobs, even at the best ranked schools. I was completely shocked. The number of interns without jobs was as of this past spring was also staggering, because firms are taking full time hires before making intern offers. While the employment of interns may not seem as critical as graduates, not getting an internship will make one’s job search much harder the next year and for some may preclude certain job opportunities.

Third, in the legal field, a really large number of law firms have also curbed hiring. Many firms have decided to completely drop 1L summer hiring (1st year interns). I met an incredibly smart 1L from Stanford who I worked with at the Attorney General’s Office this summer, and she said that for the first time, many Stanford JDs didn’t get to summer at a corporate firm this year. She said it was the first time they struggled. I also lived with graduating JDs from Boston University this past year, and they have colleagues with really good grades still scrambling to finalize their plans. Many graduates were looking into non-paying internships in order to get work experience until they can find a paying job. What’s worse is that those jobs are not even guarantees, as the graduates now have to compete against 20 others for that non-paying job. As I said, the situation is a bit worse than it seems.

For me personally, I am not as worried about the economy just yet, because I’m headed to school for a few years. Hopefully I’ll be able to hide away from the worst of the recession. I also admit that I’m fortunate to be headed to a program with a track record of sending students to premier employers and a program where students take classes and can do research during the first summer, so there is less pressure to find a certain “type” of summer job.

But aside from my own situation, I have a lot of friends and family members who are affected, including JDs and MBAs. For that reason, I like to keep up with what’s happening and recently found a few stats that I found interesting:

1) More than 100k people have already used up their unemployment benefits (I have a former MBA co-worker and a JD friend that will have to worry about this soon)
2) These benefits range from 46 weeks in Utah to 79 weeks in Alabama, depending on the unemployment percentages in each state. This means that many residents have been unemployed and collecting benefits for well over a year now
3) By the end of Aug., an estimated 650k people will run out of unemployment benefits
4) By the end of 2009, the number is estimated to be 1.5 million. This number will include lots of MBAs from the financial services and other industries

Given those statistics, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research about the economy. I recently found an article by late economist Arthur Okun (thanks to Robert Reich’s article for the reference), who once said that “a rule of thumb that every two percent drop in economic growth generates a one percent rise in unemployment.“ Robert said, that this is the first time that the rule no longer holds true. He said that it’s not even close this time.

Overall, I’m guessing that by the time I graduate in 2012, I will be living in a pretty different economy than I am today. I’m interested to see how that economy will look and thankful that I’ll have 3 years to observe, study, and prepare for what’s going to happen. What’s great about my JD-MBA program is that it will allow me to get a cross-functional, well-rounded perspective on everything that’s happening, as I’ll be able to interact with lawyers, politicians, judges, business people, recruiters, consultants, HR experts, academics, government officials, and students from a plethora of career backgrounds.

I’m definitely fortunate to be headed back to school during this defining period in our economy. Everyone who is applying this upcoming year should do the best they can to get in. Looking at the current economic environment and the unemployment trends, it’s probably going to be another tough year for applicants.

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Monday, August 10th, 2009 Careers, Labor Economics 1 Comment

PepsiCo Challenge

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a pre-MBA workship with PepsiCo in New York City. The purpose of the event to show the attendees a little about what it’s like to work in marketing at Pepsi. I was personally interested in the session because Pepsi has a huge presence in Chicago, so I know that at some point, I might make my way there for interview or at the very least, an event they sponsored for Kellogg.

As expected, our day was jam-packed with panels, Q&A sessions, case studies, and a team based project, just like all the sessions I’ve been to. Also, like most of the other boot camps I’ve been too, I was really impressed with all the senior folks who took time from their day to come chat with us. There were a couple of Senior Managers, one or two Directors, and a VP. All the executives came from schools such as Kellogg, HBS, Stanford, and USC, and they all seemed to be high trajectory employees. Reflecting on the personnel who attended and on the rigor of the event, it’s pretty clear that the event was twofold: 1) to sell us on why Pepsi (and marketing) is a great company and 2) to profile potential applicants to PepsiCo down the line.

While I don’t plan to interview for marketing roles after school, the session definitely opened up the marketing profession for me. I got the chance to experience firsthand how marketing professionals approach problems and how cross-functional the marketing role is, at least at Pepsi.

I was also impressed to the extent to which the employees talked about values and how they used them to employ marketing strategies. While a lot of talk a lot about values, Pepsi definitely stood out. Every color they used, slogan they created, and campaign they launched touched on important company principles, such as youthfulness, daringness, larger-than-life attitude, and human performance. It was pretty impressive to see how everything connected behind the scenes.

The highlight of the day was our team project, where the groups was broken into teams, and each team was charged to come up with a new product for PepsiCo to sell. There were 8 or 9 groups, and we all broke off for about 90 minutes to brainstorm, come up with the product details, draw out a informal presentation, and pitch our idea to the Pepsi executives. It was pretty cool to see the variety of different products that the teams came up with, such as a new health drink, a new low-fat ice cream bar, and a new energy snack.

As I’ve continued to experience in these sessions as well as in my pre-MBA consulting career, there is definitely an art to working effectively in diverse groups. No matter how good you are with people or how charismatic you are, working effectively in a group of 5 or 6 people, especially type-A personalities is really hard, especially when there is no clearly assigned leader. I look forward to continuing to practice at Kellogg, where teamwork definitely takes center stage.

Reflecting back on the overall session, I learned that marketing is less about creativity and fuzzy ideas than it is about analytics and rigorous business analysis. The teams who did the best in the Pepsi challenge seemed to work pretty well together and had a solid business plan to back up their creative products.

After chatting with the executives, I also learned that there’s not a whole lot of room for JD-MBAs in the marketing profession, at least not right out of school. While JDs are definitely smart enough to do well in the profession, many of the recruiters don’t see a strong academic fit. The good news is that if you are considering the JD-MBA and if you are interested in marketing, the business development function (a cousin to marketing) is definitely a good fit in the long run because of its deal, negotiation, and contractual components.

Although I don’t plan to go into marketing after I graduate, I’m still glad I went to the PepsiCo event and ecstatic that I’ll be going to Kellogg, where I’ll learn a lot about marketing and where I’ll probably get more “teamwork” than I can handle.

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Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 Careers 2 Comments

Last Day of My Summer Internship at the Attorney General’s Office

To gain some exposure in business and law before beginning my JD-MBA program this fall, I’ve been clerking at the Attorney General’s office. I began there in May, and today was my last day in the office. I also looked into business jobs, but since I’ve been in the consulting industry for the past 3.5 years I thought a legal internship would be more useful, especially since I want to explore the legal profession while in school.

In my internship I had the chance to work with the Community Services Division, the Consumer Information Division, and the Executive Office–where I spent the majority of my time. It’s been a great way to learn broadly about the work the AG does. Being in the executive office has also been a lot of fun. A few weeks ago, the Attorney General had a going away party for one of workers at his house. It was a nice event, and I got to really talk with the Attorneys on a personal level. I’ve also had the chance to help manage the press in our office, to have a Q&A with a Supreme Court Justice, and to help orchestrate a meeting with the AG and Obama’s newly elected “Border Czar” (Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security).

Aside from the obvious learning and networking benefits, I also think my experience will give me a heads up on recruiting in the program. While many law students pursue government or legal aid positions after their first year, I’ll have the experience to be able to explore other types of work since I’ve already done that. I definitely recommend that everyone try to get a good summer experience before going off to school–whether business or law–to set you apart in your graduate school career search.

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 Careers No Comments

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Jeremy C Wilson is a JD-MBA alumni using his site to share information on education, the social enterprise revolution, entrepreneurship, and doing things differently. Feel free to send along questions or comments as you read.


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