I remember pretty vividly orientation for law school. Being told that if I wanted to do something easy I should go to business school. Well, I did the hard thing. I was trained to think in the most negative way. I was taught to think about worst-case scenarios, duplicity, and adversaries. My training has made me very detail-oriented and able to focus on the most boring of tasks for the most absurdly long periods of time. I was told that I could do anything with my law degree. It was somehow proof that I was smart and I could tackle really difficult tasks. Evidence that I could think critically and get impossible things done. Well, no one else seems to think that.
Here I am with an obscene amount of student loan debt and I can’t even land a human resources assistant position. Basically, the world sees me only as a lawyer. It thinks that the utility of my skills is limited to the courtroom. They may even assume, wrongly, that all I know how to do is argue. And while persuasion was a part of my job as an attorney, I spent a lot more time simply dealing with people and solving their problems. I looked for solutions to things I never heard of daily. I delegated tasks when I had a little bit of administrative help. When I didn’t have help, I plowed through work quietly alone for hours. So I’m almost certain I can assist a human resources director, or convince someone to go with a particular ad campaign, or even sell them a product they have no interest in buying.
But the resume doesn’t show it enough. No matter how many keywords I wedge into it. No matter how much I try to explain how varied the work of an attorney can be. How many personalities we tackle. How interdisciplinary it can be. How somedays I act as a marriage counselor, accountant, life coach, and an attorney within a single client meeting. No one cares. The education doesn’t match the role. So after tinkering with the idea for a couple of years I finally decided to go back to school and get my MBA.
After just one day of class, I can already tell you that I am so happy! Sure, I’m rusty at this studying thing. I haven’t been in a class in six years. I haven’t written a paper in six years. I haven’t taken a multiple choice exam in six years. But I’m so pumped to be studying again, to be learning new things and developing skills that have long been dormant. I’m learning the difference between technical skills (which seems to be the only skills people think lawyers have), human skills (which is dealing with people), and conceptual skills (which is the ability to visualize and strategize for the long-term). And I’m really excited about it all and hopeful that as I acquire these new skills, employers will see that I understand what they do. That I can do more than just draft briefs and can actually manage people, which I’d been doing for years anyway.
It’s been two months since I’ve been in Charleston, SC and I’m still looking for a job but I’m hopeful the right position is just around the corner. In the meantime, I’m enjoying being a student again. I’m on the road to Miami as I type this and I’m so excited to see my family and friends for a couple of days. It’s been a really hard couple of months I can use this distraction.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve changed careers and what you had to do to get there. Also, feel free to offer me a job if you’ve got one you think I can do! Will write for shoes…and to make the car payment. And make sure you stay tuned to my Instagram and Twitter for all the hijinks in Florida.
Sending you loads of intellectual curiosity,