What’s right for me?
As with most job search strategies, obtaining a position in the public sector is achieved by success in several areas: having a strong resume and cover letter, developing effective interviewing skills, doing savvy research, and networking with people who do the kind of work you want to do. Many public interest positions are filled via word of mouth. The more that you let people know what you are interested in, the better chances that your name will come up when discussing who will fill the position.
The best way to ensure that you have a fulfilling career in which you do work that challenges you and makes an impact is by regular, in-depth self-assessment. Self-assessment does not need to be a formal, sit-down affair; rather, it is a time to critically evaluate the work you are doing, your happiness doing it, your strengths and accomplishments, and your goals for the future in whatever fashion is most comfortable for you. That said, it is often helpful to track your changing and constant professional goals via keeping a written record of what you wish to accomplish as a member of this profession. The more honest you can be with yourself about your skills, experiences, goals, and satisfaction level, the better you can strategically seek out opportunities and experiences that will bring you continued professional satisfaction. CPD has developed this self-assessment for people interested in a career in public interest.
Self-assessment has a very practical use as well. When applying for public interest positions, you must differentiate yourself from other applicants. The better you are able to articulate your strengths and professional accomplishments, the more an organization knows you can offer them. The work you put into self-assessment translates into a more compelling argument for why you are the candidate they want to hire.
It is also critical to educate yourself about your options. Take a look at CPD’s summary of the substantive areas of law in which you can serve the public. If you have questions about what you can do in an area that interests you, be sure to talk to CPD staff, ATJI staff, fellow students, professors, and attorneys. Attorneys working in that sector can be of particular assistance, as they are often in the best position to discuss ways that you can further educate yourself and locate professional opportunities.