Career Services Blog
What is OCI? a.k.a I have to think about Jobs on my Summer Break?!
This blog post is for people who are finishing their 1L or 2L year. Before you check out for the summer (and we DO encourage you to find a little space to take a break in the summer, even if you have a job or summer classes) you need to note a critical mile marker in the law school hiring timeline so you’re ready to take advantage of it: Fall On Campus Recruiting.
WHAT AND WHERE: OCI is the acronym for “On Campus Interviews” and broadly defined, it is a process where law firms and other legal employers visit the law school (virtually or in person) and interview potential candidates for summer jobs, post grad jobs, and even immediate hires. The OCI that might sneak up on you this summer is the one that happens mid-August (in the Summer, before Fall term starts).
HOW DOES IT WORK?: A few months before OCIs take place, your Career Services Office works with employers to determine their hiring needs, prepare job announcements, and to post them so you can view them and apply. Each job posting will have separate criteria and documents that the employer wants to see to decide who they think will be a good fit in their office. It varies widely, but the most common documents requested are a cover letter, resume, writing sample, and unofficial transcript. You apply for these great jobs by submitting your materials that you create, tailored to each employer’s needs. Your trusty Career Services office will compile the materials, deliver them to the employers and the employers will decide who to interview. Career Services will then reach out to all students to inform them of employer decisions and create a schedule.
WHEN: All the interviews take place across a set time (one week, or two days, depending on the style of OCI), but individual employers are usually on campus for one day, one morning, or one afternoon, and will conduct a set number of interviews within their selected time frame that last 20 or 30 minutes each.
MORE WHAT: OCI is the easiest way to get a job if you are seeking a position at a Portland area large firm, a nonprofit organization, a small or midsize firm or a government agency. Not that it’s easy, it is just the easiest way. You will have a bunch of potential employers gathered together to conduct grueling back-to-back screening interviews of law students. As a candidate, you will have several days of rushing from one employer interview to another and then you will have call backs and follow up interviews and then a potential job offer, all in the span of a few weeks. As I said, this is easier than the alternative, which is being hired the traditional way that other fields of employment find employees: the grind of networking, online applications, and sending out cover letters individually (which still totally works, too).
WHEN AND WHO: Lewis & Clark has a Fall OCI (mid August, before your 2L or 3L fall semester starts), a Spring OCI (mid-March or early-April, during spring semester for 1L, 2L, and 3Ls), a NW Public Service Career Fair (also in the Spring, focused on public interest and government employers for 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls), and Pop Up Interviews (a round of interviews when any kind of employer requests a special timeline). We call all of these options Organized Recruitment, because Career Services is organizing most of the interview logistics for you and the employers who are doing the recruiting.
SO WHAT DO I DO THIS SUMMER? If you are a rising 2L or rising 3L (congratulations, good for you!) keep an eye out for an email or two over the summer announcing Fall OCIs are open and you can view the job postings and apply. Determine which postings look interesting to you. Update your materials. It is a good idea for you to make an appointment with Career Services to look over your packet before you submit, especially if you have made any major changes since the last time they reviewed it. Remember, these materials are your gateway to these interviews and jobs, so you want them to be as perfect, professional, and formatted appropriately as possible.
IF OCIs ARE NOT MY THING OR I MISS THEM: Everyone’s career path is different. OCI is important, but it’s not the only way to go. Career Services also has a huge database of employers who do not participate in OCIs who might be a great place for you with new postings coming out daily (see Career Connect for these options). Many people do not get hired through OCIs, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try. It’s great practice even if it doesn’t yield a job.
Questions? Make an appointment with your career counselor using the Appointments tab on Career Connect or email firstname.lastname@example.org