What are you up to these days?
I am currently a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
How did you get your job?
When I started law school, I wanted to go into environmental law or criminal law. I have a background in science and was (and continue to be) really interested in the intersection of science and law. In both environmental and criminal law, there is room for science and data as a tool for improving each area of law. So, I applied for both types of jobs and this one was the first one where I was offered a position.
After law school, I wanted to find a job in Seattle, but all of my previous experience (working with a bankruptcy law professor and at the US Attorney’s office) were in Portland, so I really didn’t have any legal connections here in Seattle. It both felt like a long process and a short process. The short part of the process is that I was offered my current job in the time period between graduation and passing the bar in a process that just took a couple weeks once I got the initial interview. The long part was that I had started my job search in the fall of my third year, so it felt like I had been applying to jobs for a long time.
When it came to applying for jobs, I cast a wide net. I even applied to jobs I didn’t think I was remotely qualified for, because I thought even if I didn’t get the job, I may still get an interview and be able to form a connection with someone in the community. The employer may not offer me the position I applied for but they may think of me for future opportunities. I also kept stock templates for each type of job (government, environmental, criminal, etc.) to make the process of applying to multiple positions more palatable.
I also started asking my professors for any references and they were able to connect me to some legal contacts here in Seattle. While those connections didn’t directly get me a job, it was good to make those contacts and learn more about the Seattle legal community. More importantly, talking with these professors gave me a chance to work through the types of positions that I would want to apply for and come up with a strategy for highlighting my strengths.
What advice would you give to a graduating student who's looking for a job?
The best advice I got was from my mom. When I told her that I was getting ready to apply for jobs, she said, “well Chris, be prepared to get rejected. A lot.” Honesty is always appreciated and it was great advice, and something I’d like to pass on. There’s nothing wrong with not getting a certain position and it was important for me to embrace the process.
Another advice I’d like to share is not to take the process too seriously. Everything might not work out immediately, which is fine. Applying for jobs can be a demoralizing experience and unfortunately, that can just be part of it. Just remember that it takes one offer and that one job can be worth all the rejections. Also, keep an open mind. Skills from different disciplines can be incorporated to various legal practices and the first job you get can lead to totally different experiences and positions. Don’t get too caught up on having your first job be your dream job. Every experience is valuable.
My final piece of advice is to allow yourself to take mini vacations and take a break from applying to jobs and studying for the Bar. It’s okay. You need to take care of yourself.
May a student or alum contact you?
Any student may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.