Sunday, August 16, 2009

say goodbye to bar summer

My friend told me to call her because a guy she knew wanted my resume. I called her today as soon as I got the message. I've been looking for a job since the end of the bar exam--looking full-time, that is. Full-time as in: get up in the morning, have coffee, and summon the courage to face Craig's List.

Craig's List? you say. Don't tell me you are looking for a law job on Craig's List?

It's true, I will tell you. You can look on Symplicity, the law school jobs board, for judicial clerkships for the top 15% of law graduates. You can also find jobs there in Maryland, White Plains, downstate Illinois, California. You can look on the government jobs website for jobs requiring licensure and many years of experience. You can look on Careerbuilder or and be told that you can sell insurance for AFLAC. You can cruise Vault and Lexis and Lawjobs for the same listings you found elsewhere.

Or you can look on Craig's List. There, you can find small firms looking for law students who will work for ten (10) dollars and hour. You can find egregious ads offering law students the chance to "intern" (work for nothing) at a small firm. You can find even more outrageous ads looking for unemployed law graduates to work for free while waiting for their bar exam results. And you can find lots of ads looking for experienced attorneys to do piecework jobs (document review). Sometimes you can even find an ad or two that looks like a real job, and so you try once more to de-gay your gay gay resume and gay cover letter, and send them off into the abyss.

Your resume says you have crested your forties and are on the downslide to fifty, and have somehow, inexplicably, thrown away a solid-looking teaching career to rack up 125K more in student-loan debt so you can start doing entry-level work in an office. Your resume says you taught gender courses and interned at gay public interest law organizations. Your cover letter cheerfully explains that you wanted to "engage more directly with issues of social justice."

After you've sent off your gay gay gay credentials, you look can stay on Craig's List and look for work to "tide you over." There is dogwalking, tutoring,and adjunct work aplenty, and you briefly consider the dogwalking gig before you remember you have bad feet, short legs, and a resume that says you graduated from college in 1984. That leaves tutoring and adjunct work.

You send off a bunch of tutoring applications and quickly get back a grammatically-suspect reply offering you a job if you agree to engage in some complicated check-cashing and money-wiring operations. Another recipient tells you that if you get your license to sell insurance, you can have a job cold calling businesses to try to get them to buy policies. That leaves adjuncting.

It is late in the summer. Classes start soon. You know what you have to do.

It's time to put on those fishnets, purse your lips into a pout, and walk the streets selling yourself as a composition lady of the morningafternoonevening. Strut it sister! You love teaching writing! You know you do! Grading paper after paper after paper for a few dollars in your g-string--you want it!!! You flaunt it! Oh baby, your eyes are getting old, but your pen still knows how to drive them wild with a few well-placed grammar suggestions.

For your special customers, you can still offer the lure of the semicolon.

And so you find yourself here again, my friend, five years after you lost your job, in the exact same place you were when your paychecks ended. You have gone to law school, taken the bar exam, published a law Note, and racked up a total of . . . what is it? !50K in student loan debt? 160K? You aren't sure. And you are begging for a last minute comp section to pay rent until a job comes through.

One guy who asked a fancy professor friend for my resume also asked her what I had done to contribute to my jobless situation. I thought about my gay gay life and my gay gay book and my gay gay resume and I thought, could it be my heroin habit? My carelessness with my eyebrows? The fact that I only possess one suit?

The good news is that I told one friend that I was applying for dogwalker jobs and she was so horrified she found me a class for the fall. Now all I need is one more class, or a tutoring job, to get through until November.

So today I'm driving down to a community college on the far south nether regions beyond the city, to turn in paperwork for composition adjuncting. It's going to be an hour commute each way MWF, and with traffic back it could take a lot longer, but I need the extra 5K I'll get from teaching 2 classes (really 1.5) down there. The paper application is horrifying, reminding me just how punitive the job market has become--have you defaulted on any loans? Can you pass a background check? Can you pass a CREDIT check? Are you drug-free? Really, I never imagined I'd have to pass a body cavity search to be allowed to teach comp, but anything goes in this Second Depression, so I'm taking a bath and preparing to leave the house. It is a very cheery campus, with nice facilities and sunny-faced, instructors, so I think I'll like it. More later on the depressing fact/uplifting versatility of having "a foot in both worlds" (or a foot in neither). Wish me luck. It feels like a Classic Rock on the car radio kind of day, and those are always good days.