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Didn’t secure the coveted Toronto summer job? You are not alone

Last month, I provided a glimpse into some of the success stories from students that participated in Toronto in-firm week. This month, I wanted to put the spotlight on a few students that found themselves without employment after their Toronto in-firm interviews. Whether intentionally or not, law schools place a tremendous emphasis on the popular Bay Street summer student positions and it is very easy for students to be caught up in the “hype.” For students Ian*, from the University of Windsor, and Maria*, from the University of Ottawa, Bay Street was an enticing goal. But when it didn’t work out, they were forced to formulate a new plan. If you have found yourself in the same situation, their stories can provide some guidance and reassurance for your future.

  1. How did you feel the few days after not receiving “The Call?”

    The students were candid with their answers and admitted to feeling hopeless. For Maria, she felt isolated as many of her friends received positions. She replayed her interviews.

    “What should I have said? How should I have answered that question? Every time I would think of a question and how I answered it, I would become upset with myself and think about all the ‘what ifs.’”

    Maria took some time to recover and Ian was no different. Along with handling the anxiety of rejection, he found himself questioning his actions.

    “Two or three days later, questions of what went wrong were prevalent,” he says.

    However, both students admitted that these feelings subsided quickly and they realized that there were many more employment opportunities available.

  2. Were you nervous to return to school?

    Maria and Ian displayed maturity and resilience. They found that the people that cared for them were incredibly supportive and positive. Ian was not concerned about anyone’s perception of him and found that there was no point in hiding or lying about the situation. While sensitive that many others cared about their classmates’ opinions, Ian and Maria found that their friends provided the encouragement that helped them get back on track and focused on securing summer employment.

  3. How quick were you to come up with a new plan?

    Maria reacted almost immediately.

    “I gave myself a day to call family, my fiancé and speak to my friends,” she says. “I won't lie, I did take some time to cry and feel sorry for myself. The following day, I got back to applications and brainstorming where I could improve. I used my emotions to fuel my motivation to pick myself up and try again.”

    Ian decided to look for different opportunities as they became available. He considered any and all opportunities.

    “My game plan to this day  — as a third-year student — is still not very focused,” he says. “I don't have a concrete goal when it comes to practice area. My goal at the time was to find employment and get any legal experience that I might find interesting.

  4. How helpful was your school’s career services office?

    As someone who felt very supported by their school’s career services office, I was happy to hear when both students gave credit to their school’s career services. Ian and Maria praised their respective offices for being timely in their responses and available for mock interviews. Ian was grateful to be “bombarded” with job postings. The students could tell that the staff worked tirelessly to find them alternative opportunities.

  5. Were you open to positions in other regions? If so, did their processes differ from the Toronto process?

    Maria wanted experience wherever she could find it, but she was adamant about remaining in Toronto for her articling year.

    “After speaking to upper-year students, I learned that even if I summered at a firm in another city, I would not be precluded from reapplying to Toronto law firms for articles.”

    She ended up participating in a process outside of Toronto and found that process far more relaxing.

    Similarly, Ian found himself applying to a different region. He was flexible in terms of location because what mattered most was doing interesting work in a setting that suited his personality. When he participated in that region’s process, he found he was rewarded for all the preparation he did for Toronto. He was not required to participate in intimidating dinners or competitive receptions and found that his interview skills were far more polished.

  6. So, did you find employment?

    Maria and Ian found themselves with summer positions in the middle of their second semester and, ultimately, secured articling. Their summer experience was very positive. They met great people, were comfortable in their firms’ environment and gained a great deal of knowledge. Ian was fortunate enough to be offered articling part-way through the summer and Maria was able to use what she had learned over her summer to successfully obtain articling in Toronto.

  7. Any last advice for someone that did not secure a Bay Street position? Ian advises people to treat this rejection as one would any other.

“It is no different. If you are like me and not entirely sure about what the future holds, getting a Bay Street job does not help you answer that question.”

Maria kept it short: “The many opportunities of this fascinating profession extend further than a single street.”

If your path to summer employment hit a speed bump, don’t stress. Take a moment to reflect and make a new plan. The legal profession is full of interesting and unpredictable opportunities for you to explore.

*Names have been changed.