"The key to a happy and fulfilling future is knowing yourself. This self-knowledge is the most important component of finding the right career,"
— Richard Nelson Bolles, Best Selling Author
We take the time to reflect and assess because looking for a job without thinking critically about your personal preferences and strengths is akin to putting the cart before the horse. If you jump into the concrete steps of the job search without a careful consideration of what makes you tick, you will likely end up wherever the legal market tide takes you - and relinquish control along the way. Deliberate self-assessment is the first step to career ownership. Every 1L begins law school with the expectation that they have made the right choice and that they will be happy, successful, and fulfilled. Why not start early on that road to a great career fit?
If you don't consider your preferences, you will miss out on a vital opportunity to shape your career from the start. (Additionally, the answers you generate will help you in preparing your resumes, cover letters, and interview answers.) It's a well-known, but somewhat vague, directive that successful career planning begins with self-awareness. The path to self-awareness takes many forms, but we recommend the following useful exercises.
Start by reviewing your past experiences to identify what you liked most (and least) about your prior jobs, internships, campus leadership, and hobbies.
Identify Your Preferences
Complete our Five Core Self-Assessment Worksheets:
- Workplace Values
- Workplace Skills
- Practice Area Interests
- Practice Settings
- Geographic Preferences
- Put it all together in Your Career Profile
When you are ready to delve further into self-assessment, refer to the following resources for selected articles, websites, and webcasts on self-assessment and lawyer career satisfaction.
- Major Lindsey and Africa's Ten Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Practice Area
- Other Career Inventories (VIA, MBTI, StrengthsFinder)
- Career Vision Exercises
- Webcasts on Lawyer Satisfaction
- Articles on Lawyer Satisfaction
- Schultz and Zedeck Lawyer Effectiveness Factors
Taking the time now to look within can help you identify what drives you, what you are interested in, what you are good at, and what is non-negotiable. It can help you to identify whether you prefer certain environments over others and most important of all, what will be the foundation for a well thought out career plan. But, your results will merely be answers on a page if you don't take the next step to connect the dots with a deliberate strategy. To interpret and apply the results of the five core worksheets, you can make an appointment with an OCS or OPICS counselor (after October 15 for 1Ls) to discuss your results and use what you learn as a blueprint of your unique career development plan.