When we abandon a project, drop out of a program or quit a job, we often keep it hushed up. We feel we have failed. We feel disappointed in ourselves. Just couldn’t make this work. Couldn’t cut it.
Putting those experiences on a resume is even more unthinkable for some. That would mean you’d have to talk about it, lay it all on the table or be labelled a quitter or worse. Why’d you do it? What went wrong? Did you leave willingly?
A lot of people go to law school with certain ideas about what it means to be successful. There is a commonly held belief that law school will lead you to certain things. A good job. A nice house. Money. Nice things. Things we all want for ourselves and our children.
As with any other program, you go in blind. While it’s quite natural for undergraduates to change their field of study two or three times, the expectation is higher for law students. Why? As with any other degree, law school is simply not right for everyone.
Maybe it doesn’t match your own ideals. Maybe you have an eye-opening summer internship. Maybe it’s not what you thought it would be. Maybe you realise these aren’t your people. Maybe you heart is pulling you in a different direction. Maybe a lot of things.
Whatever it is, own up to it. Law school is a marathon. It’s running the race that counts. Every step is a achievement, from the application process to the admissions interview to the forty pound textbooks to the painful exam schedules and bitter competition. It’s a jungle out there.
So you dropped out. Get over it. It takes guts to act on your instinct. You’ll be criticised you for it, to be sure. People will tell you you’re making a huge mistake. Others will label you a quitter and a stubborn few will push you to go back. They might be the people that love and care for you the most. Mmm hmm, it hurts.
It takes enormous courage to go against other people’s expectations of you. Is there any prouder parent than the one with a child in law school?
Stop punishing yourself. What’s important is how you see yourself. It’s all in the presentation. You can leave it off your resume and pretend it never happened or you can stand tall and shout it from the mountaintops.
I am courageous! I am bold! I am a determined person! I choose an amazing career!
The skills you develop as a law student are translatable in many professions. They’re basic business skills on steroids. Working under extreme pressure. Manage multiple high-stakes projects at once. Juggling an elephantine workload.
If anyone has the right to call themselves a hard-worker on their resume, it’s a law student. Own it. Most likely you are a wiz in the research department, can stomp the opposition in any argument and do it with dignity and grace.
By year three, your communication skills are sharp as a tack. Your impeccable writing skills and ability to formulate a cohesive argument will help you win almost any job interview. You can communicate with business professionals of any rank without exposing your sweaty palms and shaking limbs.
You’d be hard pressed to find a student admitted to law school without volunteering experience. You probably volunteered at functions too, didn’t you? Make sure that experience is documented on your resume.
Make no mistake your experiences at law school will come up in the interview. Explain yourself if you want to. Don’t explain if you don’t want to. The point it to own up your own choices in life.
Lots of great men and women dropped out of law school. Google it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find: great writers, politicians, even sports personalities. The same goes for MBA dropouts, MD dropouts, dropouts of all shapes and sizes!
Maybe it’s time to declare yourself, give yourself a new name. Seeker. Career Warrior. A person who won’t settle for anything less than the work that lights you on fire. A champion of soul-work. Of great adventures. Of moving on when something doesn’t feel right. Of moving forward out of an uncomfortable situation.
A person who refuses to be anything less than her best, most prolific self.
Amy Knapp is a law school dropout and HR blogger for InsideTrak, where dropouts and graduates alike can find the latest information on Australian employers.