The other day, I read this amazing article by former advertising executive Shannon Kaiser, and could relate to so much of what she wrote about that I had to share it with you. She is now a travel writer.
She wisely notes, “We are going to find ourselves in many situations that don’t work for us. But we have the power to choose happiness. We can bring our own happiness back by choosing to follow our heart and listen to our inner voice.”
And my favorite part of the article is the following, because I can relate to it so well:
“I would arrive to work lifeless, cold, and afraid to listen to my inner voice. I would say to myself, ‘I went to graduate school for a marketing degree, so I better stick to this.’ But it just wasn’t what I wanted.
I was pretending to be the corporate climber. The more achievements, awards, cities, clients, and money I could get, the more I could say I was worthy. It was all a big circus, as I quietly hid myself behind the illusion of success and fulfillment.
I secretly longed for freedom. Every day I would sit under the fluorescent lights and cry inside.
I felt like a caged animal that wanted nothing more then to break free. But fear, and fear alone, was holding me back.”
Can you relate to Shannon’s story? Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
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“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
I remember when I was desperately seeking my way out of big law, I was searching for and applying to jobs pretty much every single day. I was rejected countless times, but I kept trying because I knew there might be other jobs out there that would be a better fit for me, and for which I would be a better fit.
I did not receive any response to 98% of my job applications. I finally received a response, and it was from my dream company – Google! They wanted to do a phone interview with me. I was absolutely floored that they even considered my application considering the number of applications they receive every day! Apparently I made the first cut, and I thought I was on the right track. Google was the light at the end of my big law tunnel and I was going to do everything I could to get that job.
The phone interview went well, and I was invited to the Google campus for an in-person interview with 3 attorneys on Google’s legal team. I was ecstatic. Researching, studying and preparing for this interview became my full-time job. I couldn’t have done anything more to prepare for that interview.
But when it came to interview time, I was challenged by the questions the attorneys asked me. They asked me to answer hypothetical questions that I would most likely have to deal with if I worked as a member of their legal team. I tried my best to answer the questions in an intelligent and thoughtful manner, but the interview was definitely the most difficult interview I’ve ever experienced. That being said, I thought I did fairly well and expected to hear a positive response.
So when I heard back from the recruiter that they decided to pass on my application because of my lack of experience, I was devastated. I felt rejected. My way out of big law felt closed off yet again. I started criticizing myself for not being able to make that amazing opportunity a reality. I became even more depressed when I had to go to work the next day, knowing that my stay there was once again indefinite, and my dreams of presenting my (already drafted) resignation letter to my boss saying I’m going to Google came crashing down.
Looking back almost a year and a half after that experience occurred, I can see that perhaps life was trying to lead me away from the law. Maybe, I was starting to realize, there was an alternate career path that was awaiting me that would allow the space for a greater contribution to others and to the world than the law ever could. And if I had obtained that job at Google, I might not have ever pursued that alternate path.
When life deals us blows, most of us have fear-based reactions and start being hard on ourselves, and then try to numb the pain through drugs, alcohol, sex, food, or other means. This is not a healthy cycle. I’m sure many of the new law grads can relate, given the horrible job market and the number of rejections they’ve probably received for their applications.
A better way to deal with rejection is to trust that it might be a sign that something is not the right fit for us, and maybe we need to take the road less-traveled instead.
We also have to be proud of ourselves for putting ourselves out there, even after countless rejections, instead of taking rejections personally. Every time we think we fail, it actually means we are on the right track, because we are putting ourselves out there and trying to change the things that aren’t working in our lives.
If you have friends that are unemployed law grads or if you know a lawyer seeking a way out of big law, please send them over to the blog, and share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below! I’m sure they would appreciate it.
If you’re anything like I used to be, you may be addicted to self-help books. I used to devour self-help books left and right, on topics ranging from love and relationships, business and career, fashion and style, dealing with difficult life situations, how to be rich, and especially on how to be happier. I used to even exchange self-help book recommendations with my girlfriends.
This all changed when I met with one of my old law school classmates a few months ago. I hadn’t seen him in five years, so we had a great time catching up with each other. When we said goodbye to each other, he said something to me which has not left my mind since that day. He said, “Be compassionate to yourself.”
While what he said was hardly revolutionary or unique, it influenced me in a way that completely caused me to look at myself in a new way – something that no self-help book had ever done.
His words really resonated with me. I thought about them long after, and I realized that I was being too hard on myself for a really long time. I was my own worst critic, and it was getting to me. And someone who I hadn’t seen in a long time, and who didn’t know me that well, could sense it.
After my meeting with my old classmate, I started to accept and love myself in a new way. I started to realize that I, with all my flaws and insecurities and fears and weaknesses, was an absolutely beautiful person just as I was, and that I didn’t need to “work” on myself anymore. I had become a perfectionist and was increasingly critical of myself. Over time, I started feeling like I was trying to be someone I’m not – the version of myself that society or culture wants me to be, instead of the true version of who I am. And I constantly was striving for something that I could never do – be someone other than me. This created an unhealthy cycle for me, and made me start to feel bad about myself since I kept striving and failing to achieve something unattainable. And the more I failed to achieve that unattainable ideal, the worse I felt about myself.
Notwithstanding all this, I certainly believe that by striving for improvement in my life, I was able to make certain decisions and take action to improve the quality of my life by reading self-help books and by getting inspired by the authors who wrote them. I have made countless good decisions that benefited myself and those around me because of things I learned by reading these books. My point is, if you find yourself reading tons of books on a certain topic, but you don’t find yourself applying those principles in your life, you may have to try a different approach in addition to those books. Or, you may have to accept that there are certain things you cannot change, and you just have to learn how to make the best of it. Sometimes that just comes with life experience.
While I still have many areas of my life that I could improve upon, I have come to the realization that maybe there are certain things about me that make me who I am, and these qualities just might not be ones I can, or frankly, want to, change. I realized all this after hearing just those four words from my old classmate – “Be compassionate to yourself.”
So every once in a while, put those books down and go out and meet people. Talk to people you know or strike up conversations with people you don’t. Do things you enjoy. Experience life in all its absurdities, oddities, and beauties. Along the way, you may gain some great insights that might not reveal themselves in the same way if they were written on a page (or even on a blog). The written word, while full of wisdom and knowledge, is incomparable to the impact of life experiences on a person.
With the surplus of lawyers, and the limited number of legal jobs available, many law graduates are having a hard time finding work. Even free work.
The situation doesn’t look like it’s going to improve anytime soon, either. So with thousands of dollars, if not over a hundred thousand, of debt, what’s an unemployed law grad to do?
My suggestion is this: find creative ways to stand out from the pack. It’s the only way.
First, you have to be clear on the types of jobs you are targeting. Employers can smell generic cover letters and emails from a mile away. Narrow down your search to no more than 10 employers at the beginning. You can always try other employers at a later time, but at the outset, start with 5-10.
Then, find a way to grab the employers’ attention that is totally different than what other applicants are doing.
For example, watch the video above to see how one job applicant found a job using Google. There are other ways of doing this as well. For example, you can buy a targeted ad on Facebook for people who work at a certain company and let them know that you want to work there too. Read about how other people used this method to find jobs here. The point is not to copy these exact tactics, but to think creatively and do things that other people most likely haven’t tried.
Trying these methods won’t cost much of your time or money, but the potential benefits you can get out of it (e.g., a dream job at one of your favorite organizations) are well worth the investment.
Einstein once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So, try a new method outside of sending resumes and cover letters in response to Craigslist ads. See if you get different results. And, if you do find a job using creative or unconventional methods, please share your story with me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at escapefromthelaw [AT] gmail [DOT] com.
If you have friends that are unemployed law grads, please send them over to the blog, or share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below! I’m sure they would appreciate it.
I want to hear from you.
What’s holding you back from quitting your big law job? What are your fears? Can you identify the things that are holding you back?
Hearing from you will help me help you, since I will be able to better understand what is holding you back from realizing your aspirations, and in turn will be able to write about topics that interest you and that may even help you.
So take the poll and feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at escapefromthelaw [AT] gmail [DOT] com.
And if you have friends in big law that are unhappy with their jobs, please send them over to the blog, or share this post on Facebook and Twitter using the buttons below! I’m sure they would appreciate it.
I read a post on Careared that I thought was interesting. It’s on the “What do you do?” question that people tend to ask upon meeting you, as if the answer to this question allows the questioner to fit you into a certain box or category, will give them some insight into the type of person you are, or will allow them to determine if you can help them in some way.
I can definitely relate to this post. I can’t tell you the number of times I have told people I’m a lawyer, only to hear, “Oh you must be really argumentative”, or “You’re too nice to be a lawyer!” in response. It used to be bother me tremendously, but I think I’ve gotten over it.
Although people in all professions probably get certain stereotypical reactions to their “What do you do?” answer, people generally seem to have very strong opinions and ideas about what lawyers do and they make automatic assumptions about the personality of all lawyers. Usually these assumptions and opinions about lawyers are negative, but to me this only shows how narrow minded those people must be. It doesn’t say anything about me or who I am.
I guess all we can do is be ourselves, and show people that no matter what, we are not just what we do. Every person is so incredibly complex and jobs are only one aspect of people’s lives. For some people, their identities and egos become intertwined with their careers, but this is an social and cultural construct that doesn’t exist in other cultures.
Once in a while, you might meet a lawyer (or doctor, or dentist, or engineer) that doesn’t match your assumptions. Nice lawyers do exist, and so do mean nurses and teachers. I’ve noticed that nice lawyers generally don’t succeed in certain legal environments, however. This may also feed certain negative assumptions and stereotypes.
One of my favorite things is to surprise people and to challenge their beliefs. I love it when I don’t simply fit within certain boundaries or categories that people create upon meeting me. If I am able to challenge someone’s expectations in a meaningful way or help them learn something new or see things in a new light, it is an extremely satisfying feeling.
What are some reactions you’ve gotten to the “What do you do?” question?