Public Interest Job Search Toolkit Highlights
This collection of tools was designed to help you start or continue your public interest job search. Many of the printable handouts are excerpts from our Public Interest Job Search Toolkit (which can be found on the Job Search Tools page). We highly recommend that anyone considering public interest or public service employment read the Toolkit in its entirety.
Click on a topic below to jump to its section.
Self-Assessment and Goal-Setting
What Are You Looking For?
As a first step, you need to figure out what interests you. To do this, we suggest some honest self-assessment. We are here to help you with this. In the handout below, we have included questions to ask yourself as you consider the type(s) of work you want to pursue. It is ok if you don’t have answers to all of these questions. Many people are not sure exactly what interests them; others are interested in everything. You will change and refine your ideas as you gain experience. Thinking about these questions now, however, will give you a better idea of which direction(s) to start to explore.
Timelines and Tracking Tools
There are many opportunities to explore public interest and public service during law school. Please visit Charting Your Public Interest Path for more information. For a summary of 1L, 2L and 3L timelines, click the link below (note that dates may slightly change year to year):
Job Search Tracking
We have developed a short “resume workbook” to help you start (or update) your resume, as well as a checklist to help you keep track of resume items. It is important that you review the pointers in the workbook even if you feel you know the basics about resumes or have practiced law for several years. The workbook raises issues not covered in the short checklist.
The document below contains sample student and graduate resumes, as well as portions of resumes geared toward specific situations. Please review all resumes and the tips they contain regardless of the class year indicated in the heading, as each one includes helpful information. There are many more resume samples (including before-and-after revision comparisons) in the Toolkit.
Cover Letter Tools
The goal of a cover letter is to highlight your credentials and provide a persuasive narrative as to why you are a great fit for the job. It should convey your fit, passion and skills. Public interest employers often rely more on cover letters than resumes to assess candidates – so your letters have to be good!
This document is a summary of public interest cover letter do's and don'ts:
This document provides sample cover letters. Be sure to read them all, even those that are not at your experience level (like those for upperclassmen or grads). Pay special attention to the tips.
Interviewing and Networking Tools
The purpose of a public interest interview is to determine whether you and the employer are a good "match." The employer is looking for someone with the knowledge, skills and passion that suit the organization's goals and style. They will be assessing your commitment to the issues and your past experience, as well as how well you would fit into their office. At the same time, you will be assessing whether the job will let you use your talents, energy, and skills to work for something you believe in, with people you like. The interview is a mutual fact-finding mission – but your particular goal is to get the right job for you.
While there is no standard format for a public interest interview, this primer will help you as you prepare.
This primer on networking, table talk, and informational interviews will help you prepare for informal networking and for table talk at public interest job fairs.
These samples should be helpful guides as you navigate your job search. As mentioned earlier, we also suggest that anyone looking for a job in public interest or public service review our complete Public Interest Job Search Toolkit, which can be found on the Job Search Tools webpage
To set up an advising appointment with a public interest, government, or human rights advisor, visit our “Contact Us” page to get more information. (Most advising appointments can be set up via Symplicity).