Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My New Career Goal

OK, this one is really simple and for once doesn't involve anything like getting a Ph.D. or breaking into a highly competitive field or finding a position that lets me pay off all my loans in a year. It isn't even really geared towards "getting a job," but more towards building a network so that I can eventually, well, get a job. My new goal is to do something--anything--to enhance my professional development and build my network every single day. I left it purposely open-ended, but the idea is to keep me from getting the "tunnel vision" that so often plagues law students, where they either are not focused on the future at all, or where they only have one career-related goal and think that it's the end of the world if they don't achieve it.

So, what does that mean for me? It could include:
  • handing out a business card
  • going to a career lecture or attorney panel (checked this one off for today--went to a great public interest career panel discussion)
  • sending emails to speakers at said panels to thank them for the advice they gave
  • polishing my resume
  • polishing some writing samples
  • doing some small things to enhance my resume, like getting research-certified in legal databases and joining the American Bar Association
  • doing a mock interview
  • applying for a position
  • maintaining strong relationships with people who know me and my work product and could recommend me to employers
Do any of you have lists like this? If so, what's on your list?

I've noticed that a lot of my fellow students don't seem to recognize that the "rules of engagement" for finding jobs has completely changed from what it was even 10 years ago. Or they seem to be aware of it, but to not know how it should affect their job search. Here are two things I've learned about it:

Here is what I think is by far the most important one: In this economy, you don't "choose" your job or career path; it, in many ways, chooses you. Some students "choose" to work in, for a random example, labor and employment law. But let's say those students graduate and there are no jobs to be found in labor and employment law. Are they going to do nothing for 5 years while they wait for positions in their "chosen" field to open up? Of course not. They will take whatever jobs are offered to them. Maybe a position in a D.A.'s office. Or in a small personal injury firm. Or doing legal consulting for a business. And those first opportunities may eventually lead them into their "choice" of labor and employment law, but more likely than not, a whole new career path they could never have envisioned on their own, but that is deeply satisfying, opens up. I am not "choosing" what I'm going to do next summer or after I graduate law school--not in terms of what it is or where it is. I don't say this to be negative, but the economy is too bad to be doing that and it's a set-up for disappointment. Of course I am going to more strongly pursue opportunities in fields I think I would really enjoy, like family law and public interest work. And I'm also not saying we have no autonomy in the job search or that we're all going to have to just take jobs we hate--not at all. But in a generation that's grown up with choices that even our parents never could have imagined when they were young, we need to learn to relinquish some of our ability to choose, accepting that holding on to our "choice" with clenched fists is a hindrance and not a help. This job market is not about choices; it's about making the most of whatever opportunities are offered to us.

And finally, I've learned that the first few years of work after law school (or after college or any grad school) are about being willing to do the dirty work and "pay your dues." My friend aptly compared it to doing a residency after medical school. It means you need to be ok with not working in your dream job, in your dream city, right away. It means you're willing to work the crazy-long hours, knowing that it won't last forever and is a way to get established and get valuable experience. It means you might take the clients or cases or even the office cubicle that nobody else wants. It means that the words "work-life balance" probably shouldn't come out of your mouth for the first year or so. It means you realize that your first job doesn't have to be your last, and while it may be hard at first, it gets better.

And I'll be perfectly honest--these career lessons can be tough pills to swallow, but I think being aware of them will help me in the long run. And I also know that whatever job I end up in has every bit as much potential as any other job to be part of a career I really love.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Music for Your Monday

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Do Politics Have to Do With Faith?

In case you don't want to read this because you're already sick of reading about people's political views, I promise you that this post is NOT going to endorse any political party, view, or candidate. But with a presidential election coming up in less than two months, it seems that politics are at the forefront of everyone's mind right now. Commentary about the parties and candidates dominate Facebook and Twitter every single day. And much of that commentary consists of people engaging in all-out bashing of the party or candidate they oppose. In fact, at least in my experience, bashing the opposing party is much, much more common than actually demonstrating what is admirable about the party you support. In this area as in most, perhaps just because of human nature, it's easier to tear people down than to build them up.

But I've noticed something very troubling: if the derogatory comments about other parties and candidates aren't bad enough, people also take it upon themselves to tear down anyone who supports the party or candidate they don't like. Romney supporters use online forums to attack Obama supporters, and vice versa. They try to attack their intelligence, their upbringing, their patriotism, and even things like their femininity or masculinity. (Don't believe me on that last one? Haven't you heard people say, "I don't know how anyone could vote for Romney and still consider herself a woman"?)

Here's the worst part: I've noticed that many, many Christians have no qualms about maligning the faith of other Christians simply because of who they vote for. They take no issue with telling other people, at least in so many words, "You can't possibly be a Christian/ be making the Christian choice if you vote for [insert a candidate here]" or "It's only really 'Christian' to vote for the candidate I support, and if you don't, then I call your faith into question." I see this attitude all the time, even though it's admittedly a lot more subtle than in the examples I just gave. And indeed, Christians need to seriously consider how their faith and the principles of God's Word should affect who they vote for. But here's the thing: it's not as if it's "Christian" to vote for one candidate and "non-Christian" to vote for another. There's no explicit indication from God about who to vote for in the 2012 election. And so we must each make a choice through prayer and discretion--but it's not as if one choice is "right" and the other is "wrong," as long as they are made after seeking out God's will on the issue.

And this form of tearing people down and judging others through political posturing has got to stop, because if it doesn't, I fear it will cause fault lines to form in the church itself. We cannot treat other people as if we doubt their Christian faith simply because of who they vote for.

And what else do politics have to do with faith? We are to pray for and submit to the leaders and governing authorities that God has placed over us. Yes, that does mean what you think it means. Even if you hate our current President and everything he stands for, God still expects you to pray for him. The same goes for whichever individual is elected in November. I know I don't make this a regular part of my prayer life, but I certainly should. We are to pray for our leaders and to show respect for them. According to 1 Timothy 2, we are also supposed to thank God for them. Now call me crazy, but I'm not really sure how bashing candidates we oppose fits into that framework. Why are we so willing to assume others aren't voting "the Christian way," when there's no one perfect "Christian candidate," when we aren't even willing to follow the political instructions God has explicitly given? Pray for our leaders. Thank God for them. Respect them. Submit to them. Simple as that.

Judging from the opinions I've heard over the past couple of months, some people pretty much think the world is going to end if their favored candidate doesn't win. Does the President have power to change our lives dramatically? Yes. But who is really in control? The leader in the Oval Office, or God?

I believe that God appoints leaders for such a time as the one we're living in. As an article I read recently pointed out, every generation thinks they are living in the most important time in human history. Every generation thinks the next election will totally change life as they know it. But good times and bad times have faced the American people before, and God has still--always--been the one on the throne.

The Bible says, "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." Not, "Blessed is the nation whose president is Mitt Romney."  Not "Blessed is the nation led by Barack Obama." Or anything else. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

So I leave you with this: Yes, it's important who we vote for. Yes, we need to seek God's leading in all of our political decisions, as in everything else. But before we enter total political panic about what's going to happen in November, we need to be asking ourselves, "Do we live in a nation whose God is the Lord? Do we live a LIFE in which the Lord is God and the Lord is in control?" That's where real change and transformation starts. And if we allow the Lord to be in control, life as we know it really will change, but the blessing will ultimately be ours.

"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord." --Proverbs 21:30

Saturday, September 22, 2012

What I'm Loving This September

Y'all, these past two weeks have been an absolute blogging FAIL and I know it. Which could be why I have approximately 1.3 readers remaining. (If that's you, thank you!) Sorry to be so inconsistent with posting . . . as my sister said, "You're breaking your own rules about blogging!" Yes, it's true, I totally have broken the post-four-times-a-week rule that I idealistically designed about a month ago. Unfortunately, I think that will come with the territory over the next couple of months as I try to finish this semester, but I will do my best to post something new/ interesting at least a couple times a week.

Over the past two weeks, my life has pretty much consisted of classes, Mock Trial, interviews for summer associate positions next year, working on my case note for law review, and trying to spend time with friends and be social/ find time to sleep.

But here's a few things I've been really enjoying in the past couple weeks:

1) DIY French manicures. I have never had a "real" French manicure done, and a couple weeks ago I decided that I really wanted one to look professional for some events I had coming up. But being the cheap person that I am, I didn't want to pay to have one done in a nail salon. So I bought some white polish and some clear polish and I gave it a go on my own. The first one was really hard to do and took forever, but I was really pleased with the results, and by the second time, it was so much faster. This is going to be my cheap, go-to nail look for when I need to really look like a lawyer.

2) Old Redbook magazines--I just unearthed a huge stash in my apartment and totally forgot how great this magazine is.

3) Spotify. Yes, I just jumped on this train two weeks ago, even though it's been popular for a really long time. (For those of you who are not familiar, you can download Spotify on your computer and get almost unlimited free music, make playlists, and share songs with friends. The only downside is that you don't actually own the songs, so you can't put them on an iPod or CDs.) But I've been rediscovering all my favorite old-school Christian music from, like, 2000, as well as a bunch of great new albums that have come out.

4) homemade facial scrub made with brown sugar, lemon juice, and honey. This is the only facial/ body scrub I think I'm ever going to use. It is so easy and cheap to make, and if you leave it on for about 10 minutes and then wash it off with a hot washcloth, it will leave your skin so smooth.

5) Nicholas Sparks books. No further comment on this one.

6) This one is nerdy, but my evidence class. It is so good/ interesting, and I feel like I'm finally learning totally practical stuff about how to actually be a lawyer, conduct a trial, make objections in court, etc.

7) Atlanta Braves baseball (I've gone twice already this month). There's not much that ails you that friends, laughter, and a good baseball game can't fix.

8) The Zumba and high-intensity training classes I've been taking at the undergrad campus. Yes, this is part of my mission to finally get in shape.

9) The gene patent cases I'm researching for my case note and their implications for individualized medicine--interesting stuff.

10) the start of FALL--weather that's finally getting a little cooler, fall scented candles from Bath and Body Works like pumpkin caramel latte, end-of-season sales on summer dresses, etc.

Thanks for letting me catch up with you--come back tomorrow and read my upcoming post, "What Do Politics Have to Do With Faith?"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What I'm Reading Lately

This is an article that I read that has gone viral this past week, and for good reason. Titled, "I Don't Wait Anymore," it is outstanding. The author has boldly addressed what it can look like and feel like for a single 20-something to be told, over and over, "Just keep waiting and satisfying yourself in God, and when you least expect it, He will bring you a husband." This is such an important issue for women in my generation, and I'm so grateful to this young lady for speaking up about it in a gracious and godly fashion. Read it to find out why she doesn't wear a purity ring anymore (and it's not because she's given up on remaining pure).

And check out this open letter from a millenial. I don't agree with everything in it, or with its "blaming" older generations for some of the struggles facing my generation, but the issues it raises are timely and important. Certainly some food for thought.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Loving the Law School Life

So this week I wrapped up my third week of regular fall classes, started back to work part-time in the admissions office, joined the Mock Trial intra-school competition, picked a topic for my law review case note, finished editing my second manuscript, joined a 1L mentoring program, went to a bunch of other random meetings, and tried to fit in reading for class/ working on my appellate brief for legal writing on the side.

I have been on-the-go pretty much 24/7 since getting back to school a month ago, but it's all good because I really love everything I'm doing. I have a lot more on my plate than I did last year, but the advantage now is that I know the ropes and am not as freaked out by everything. But this definitely isn't 1L anymore! I don't think I've ever had this much going on at once before, with the possible exception of second semester of my senior year of college, but I am feeling so absorbed in all my projects and excited about all my activities. I also love all the people I'm getting to work with on different things, some of them old friends and some of them that I've just met in the past few weeks.

I do not know exactly where I'm going after law school is done. I mean, I don't even know for certain what state I want to take the bar exam in, or what kind of law I want to practice, or even if I want to use my degree for something different where I don't "practice law" at all. There are a lot of things I think I would love doing, though, and I will need my degree for those things, so I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing right now.

I had a little bit of a rocky, confusing journey to law school. Some of you know more of the story behind that, but suffice it to say that I did not expect to go to law school when I did or where I did. But it all worked out beautifully, even though I could never have planned it quite that way. I absolutely love it here, and pretty much every day I feel such a strong sense of confirmation that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Knowing that I am in the right place and doing the right thing is one of the best feelings. I don't need to know exactly where I am going and what I am doing in 2014 when I graduate. I will know all those things when the time is right, and for now, I am going to rest in knowing that I am supposed to be here, and I love it here. That is a blessing, and it is the encouragement that keeps me going when I have those days when I need sleep, caffeine, energy, a vacation, and a few more hours in my day.

Learn to love the place you're in, no matter where it is. And have a good weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Unseen Grace

This weekend, my sister came down to visit me for the holiday, and we had a great time. On Sunday, we had the privilege of going to Passion City Church in Atlanta, a first for both of us. It was amazing! Chris Tomlin led worship, and Louie Giglio preached. This congregation is obviously excited about the Lord and what He is doing in people's lives, and it was great to be a part of that.

One of the best parts of the service was that Chris Tomlin had just written (and is in the process of recording) a brand new song for his CD releasing in a few months. He said that it was the first time he had performed the song for an audience. (As Meagan pointed out, we got to attend the world premiere of the song, which was great!) I would post some lyrics but I'm pretty sure that could be copyright infringement, so just go buy his CD when it comes out!

The message of the song was based on a story in 2 Kings 6 that I never even really knew about before. But as a result of the Bible-reading-in-90-days challenge, I had actually just read the story last week and was already thinking about sharing it with my blog readers. After that church service, I definitely feel like I need to share it with you all!

In this passage, the prophet Elisha is advising the king of Israel because Israel was at war with the king of Aram. The Arameans encamped around the city with a great army of horses and chariots. Elisha's servant was terrified when he saw the enemy armies, and he asked Elisha, "What are we going to do?" Elisha said, "Don't be afraid--those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed that the Lord would open the eyes of the servant so that he would be able to see. God answered his prayer, and the Lord opened the servant's eyes, and "he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." God had sent and stationed an unseen army around Elisha to protect his people. Even though at first the servant was too fearful to see them, they were still there to fight on behalf of God's people.

We don't always know how God will choose to protect us, watch over us, and carry us through the battles we face. I believe that God surrounds His people with forms of grace and power that they can't even see. Scripture tells us that God sends angels to encamp around us, and He surrounds us with songs of deliverance. Sometimes He may give us eyes to see the unseen, but even if not, this story reminds us that we have supernatural strength, grace, and power to face whatever we have to face. The power that is with us is greater than any power that can ever be against us!

God is for us and is by our side in ways we can't even fathom, and we will not be afraid.