OneJustice Blog

Bring life-changing legal help to Californians in need.

How I got hooked on a public interest career

Ten years ago, I suited up for what turned out to be a life-changing interview

Public Interest/Public Sector Day, then and now

As a first-year law student at the University of San Francisco nearly 10 years ago, I had my heart set on working in public interest law. When I learned about Public Interest/Public Sector Day (also known as “PI/PS Day”), I knew I’d hit the jackpot.  An annual event that gathers dozens of local and not-so-local public interest and public sector employers in one place?  Wow!  Where else would I be able to indulge my love of learning about possible career options and summer internships on a cold Saturday in February?   And I could meet staff from organizations as cool as Justice Now, Equal Rights Advocates, and AIDS Legal Referral Panel and ask geeky questions about their work?  Awesome!

This is me back in the days of law school - when PI/PS Day got me hooked on a public interest career!

This is me back in the days of law school – when PI/PS Day got me hooked on a public interest career!

I did my homework beforehand, researching organizations’ mission statements, staff bios, and services provided before preparing my applications.  I visited USF Law’s career services office, seeking advice from staff familiar with public interest legal organizations, and asked questions about the kind of work experience employers were looking for, and how I should address my cover letter.  It all seemed kind of intimidating, but the advice I received about taking everything one step at a time really helped.

Much to my surprise and delight, I was granted an interview with an amazing organization.  I practiced my answers to possible interview questions in front of my bathroom mirror, and on that gray February day, headed to UC Hastings wearing a suit and clutching extra copies of my resume.  Those came in handy when I attended Table Talk (an informational fair where all of the employers have tables), where I tried to hide my nervousness as I spoke with staff doing the kind of life-changing legal work I aspired to do.

I clearly remember how kind all the PI/PS Day staff were to me and the countless other students attempting to launch our public interest law careers.  And here is the interesting thing – I actually didn’t receive an internship offer from the organization with which I interviewed.  But it didn’t matter; my student experience of PI/PS Day was incredibly positive.  I met inspiring people who dedicated their lives to advancing justice for marginalized people in San Francisco and beyond. And most of all, I was hooked that day.  I knew I’d found a career path for myself.

And this is me now, working the other side of PI/PS Day as the Healthy Nonprofits Program Manager!

And this is me now, working the other side of PI/PS Day as the Healthy Nonprofits Program Manager!

Almost a decade later, it’s such an honor to now be working on the other side of PI/PS Day!  As the recently hired Healthy Nonprofits Program Manager at OneJustice, I am working with a fantastic team to ensure the success of 2014’s PI/PS Day – which will be on Saturday, February 1st  at UC Hastings College of the Law. It’s my goal to make the day the wonderfully positive experience for students and employers that it was for me years ago.

There are over 130 employers registered as of today, which means students attending can expect to encounter a wide range of everything, from types of law practiced to client communities served to geographic locations available. If you want to learn more about being an attorney for a government agency, sign up to attend! If you are interested in serving low-income clients at a legal services organization in an urban or a rural area, please come! And there’s so much more.

Law students can apply for interviews starting at noon on January 2nd, 2014, and should plan to attend the big day itself.  You may just have a life-changing interview that day, or make connections with staff attorneys during Table Talk that could lead to a great summer internship.  And maybe you’ll end up hooked on a public interest career, too!

OneJustice is proud to match future legal services leaders with their future employers! And I personally look forward to seeing you there!

One response to “How I got hooked on a public interest career

  1. Pingback: A little trivial pursuit . . . January justice contest | OneJustice Blog

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