First Job After College: Urgent Advice Needed

<p>Hello parents, </p>

<p>I am a college senior, about to graduate in May, and I'm going crazy trying to decide on what I might like to do for my first job. My long-term career goals are to either attend graduate school for political science and become a professor, or attend law school to become an attorney. I'm leaning more towards the professor option than the attorney one.</p>

<p>My main problem right now is that I have 1 job offer for a job that seems pretty good, but I think I might regret taking this job without applying to some other positions that sound really great. Do I run with what I have or keep looking for something better? Here is the situation in more detail:</p>

<p>My one job offer is for a paralegal position at a federal agency in Washington, DC. The salary and benefits are good: $39,000, with a raise to $48,000 after the first year. I will be doing things like proofreading and cite-checking attorneys' briefs, organizing documents, and helping prepare for trials. Hours can be long (sometimes 60-80 hours a week), but there is overtime pay. The position is a two-year commitment.</p>

<p>However, I'm really interested in trying to get a position as a court analyst/researcher. In particular, I'd like to apply for a current opening at the Federal Judicial Center for a Research Assistant position. There, I would work with a research team doing analysis on the courts and the American Legal System. Pay is $44,000 with federal benefits. I think that the skills and knowledge I might gain from this type of position, in terms of research ability, would be invaluable if I decide to apply to grad school for political science.</p>

<p>Finally, one of my professors just told me that he has a job lead for me on a position in DC as deputy press secretary at the non-profit political organization. The professor gave me the impression that they would be willing to put my name at the top of the candidate pile since there is an alumni connection. In this position I would be maintaining press contact lists, writing the weekly newsletter, drafting press releases, and generally assisting the senior press staff. I think the salary would be lower than other positions, since it's a non-profit. So, this job sounds interesting to me as well!</p>

<p>I am completely stuck about what to do! Do I tell myself it's "better to have the bird in hand," commit to the paralegal position, and forget about the other jobs? Turn down the paralegal job and apply to the others, hoping that things will work out, but knowing that I might end up with neither position? I don't want to take the paralegal position and regret not knowing how the other jobs would have turned out. At the same time, I don't want to be too picky and end up with no job at all.</p>

<p>I have gone to my college's career counselor, and asked my parents and friends for advice, but I still don't know what to do. Please give me your advice and tips about how I should handle choosing my first job. I need to get back to the paralegal job with an answer soon. I really appreciate any help you can give!</p>

<p>what is your pressure/deadline for committing to the job offer "in hand" ? can you apply to the others, which in fact sound like they will give you a lot more in your areas of interest? do you have any idea of the turn-around time for the other jobs to respond? you sound like you have good credentials, and maybe you can risk at least a little time to choose. i'd definitely apply to the others, ASAP! THEN see what happens! get on them now! best of luck! you'll be fine! :) P.S. most jobs allow for applicants to say they need a little more time and will get back to them in.....</p>

<p>If you need the money right away, take the paralegal position. With overtime it sounds like it could be very lucrative. If money isn't a big immediate concern, I would be patient and find the job you really want.</p>

<p>If you are really planning to go to law or graduate school within the next 2 to 3 years, I don't know if there is much difference with any of these jobs.
If you were talking first job, making contact, moving up the ranks in the field, and remaining in that field, I would give a different answer. But if this is going to act as temporary employment, until you start law/grad school in the next 2 years, I don't think the job particulars will matter too much.</p>

<p>My kid is in a similar situation. She too is graduating in May and plans on going to law school in the next year or 2. She has sent out resumes- gotten responses and now realizes that she doesn't have the time to interview until after the school semester. And as her graduation is not until the end of May, she might not be able to really pursue employment until June.</p>

<p>so you too have to think whether you'd be able to interview for these other positions as you are still in school. </p>

<p>If you are truly planning to apply to law school within the next 2 years, a paralegal position with overtime is not a bad way to go.</p>

<p>My first job out of college I was working 8 am to 9 pm. I didn't last very long; would get REALLY hungry and cranky and tired and my head would hurt. BUT some people love that kind of pace and do great! Just make sure you're that kind of person!</p>

<p>Hi EEH,</p>

<p>As an attorney who worked one year after going graduating before going to law school, I would HIGHLY recommend trying to get the analyst position or even the press secretary position rather than working as a paralegal.</p>

<p>In general, paralegal jobs are all about your organizational skills rather than your analytical skills. And paralegal jobs are typically very BORING for most people who yearn to be attorneys.</p>

<p>Find a job that will utilize/hone your analytical skills which will not only be more fun and challenging for you, but will also make you a more attractive candidate to the law school ad coms.</p>

<p>If I were in your position, I'd get right on those other 2 opportunities. Best of luck to you and please let us know how it all turns out!</p>

<p>Okay, one too many "goings" in that post, but I think you get my drift!</p>

<p>One other thing I wanted to add based on your initial post: it appears that you will be able to land a very decent job using alumni connections from your school, so I wouldn't be overly concerned with taking the paralegal job for fear that you won't be able to land another job.</p>

<p>Generally, young people have several job, there has been and increase in the number of jobs over a career. It is not like the old days when you went to work for GM, IBM, GE, etc, and stayed til retirement. People move around. If you do not have economic pressure you can take your time. If not, it does not matter as pointed out above since you want to go to grad school. In short you are not going to keep the job for a long time anyway. One other thing, a huge number of people who are graduating now will retire from jobs that do not currently exist. That does not mean the company does not exist the type of job does not exist. Think of what has gone on in Technology.</p>

<p>Thank you for the advice, everyone. </p>

<p>I'm very lucky in that I have no student loans to pay back after undergrad, so I don't have as much economic pressure to find a job as others. </p>

<p>Lextalionis, I have been concerned that working as a paralegal will be somewhat boring, especially if I have to do it for long hours. I've kind of assumed, however, that most entry-level jobs will be boring, and I'll just have to deal with that problem wherever I am.</p>

<p>I'm going to take a little more time to decide, but all of your thoughts have been helpful!</p>

<p>Hi- I'd just keep in mind the "turn around" time from time of application to job offer for the Research Assistant in the Federal Courts. I'm assuming both the para legal and the research assistant is through Federal civil service. And it can be a lengthy process between when you apply and when an offer is actually made. And if it is Federal civil service, there can be hundreds of people applying for this position.
That is why I suggested you go with the para-legal.</p>

<p>It just seemed that if you are only going to work for a year or 2, I wouldn't plan on waiting 6 months to find the perfect job. My response would be totally different if this job was going to be of a more permanent nature.</p>

<p>I'm curious though, what was the turnaround time in applying for the para-legal and getting the job offer??
Maybe things have changed, but in the past getting a government job usually takes a bit of time.</p>