The following is an excerpt from the Career Development Handbook.
As you go through law school and explore your many career options, you will end up making a myriad of decisions. These choices will include what classes to take, which student organizations to join, how and where to gain professional experience, and which opportunities to pursue after graduation. Looked at all together, “deciding what to do with your life,” or even with your law degree, is probably intimidating. However, it is important to remember that you will make these decisions one at a time, over time, and that you can always make changes along the way.
Especially in today’s market, it is almost always counterproductive to try to pinpoint exactly the job and/or organization you want to be linked with for the rest of your working life. Whether due to opportunities that come your way, fields that will grow or shrink based on external factors, or unforeseen personal or professional influences that may shift your priorities, flexibility and adaptability will be absolutely necessary. You simply can’t predict or plan for everything that will happen in your career in the years ahead. Instead, think about what you want to learn and experience each new semester, each year, with each experience. Make the most of your time at UNC Law, whatever that means to you, and utilize the resources available to you. Reflect on a regular basis, noticing patterns and taking stock of your level of interest and engagement in a given activity. Setting goals can be a great thing, but remember to give yourself room to grow, change, try something new, and to say yes to opportunities that feel like a good fit.
Decision-making can and should be both an independent and an interdependent process. You probably already have people in your life you go to for advice when making big decisions. Well, being here at UNC Law, you will likely add a few more advisors to your list over time, relying on different people for different things. Some opinions on your pending choices may conflict with one another; it would be shocking if they didn’t. But that dissonance is not a bad thing. It is the diversity of the insights you are presented with that will force you to take a step back, weigh ideas against each other, and then take your own thoughts, feelings, and experiences into account to make an informed decision for yourself.
At the CDO, we hope that one or more of our staff members will have the privilege of helping you make career-related decisions over the next few years. We are here to be an unbiased source of information and encouragement, offering support as you think broadly about who you are becoming and where you want to go next and make choices you feel confident about. Let us know how we can be of assistance.