How to find last-minute summer employment

By Hillary Mantis

Miranda nervously glanced at her phone’s calendar. "It’s April, and I don’t have anything lined up for this summer yet. School’s out in less than two months. I’m going to need something on my resume from this summer, showing some kind of experience. What should I do?”

Miranda had gone through her school’s on campus interview program, and didn’t land anything. She had applied to a few government internships, but didn’t get them. She sent out tons of resumes from job web sites, but that has not worked yet either. So, what should she do?

It’s not too late for Miranda, but it is time for her to be more creative. Here are some last minute ideas that have worked for other law students in the past, including myself.

1. Work on a Political Campaign: As I am writing this blog, the first candidate for the 2016 presidential election just declared himself. Others are about to announce their candidacy. Although you might have to volunteer, at least at first, this can be a fascinating experience. Instead of reading about cases that happened hundreds of years ago, you are right in the midst of a current event that’s making history. I’ve counseled several people who loved volunteering on a campaign, and some even got hired onto the campaign, or got a job in the candidate’s administration — one person even ended up working in the White House.

2. Apply to Small Law Firms: Large firms are pretty much done with their summer hiring. So are most large government agencies. Traditionally, small firms hire in the spring. So, aim for the firms that are most likely to hire now. Hang around your career services office, and see if the career counselors know of any alumni who might need an intern. Continue to check job listings every day, even while everyone is in reading period and isn’t focusing on their job search. I’ve seen some employers even post in early July, so don’t give up.

3. Ideas for Thinking Outside the Box: A student I knew didn’t have a job by early summer. She decided to gather her courage and walk around the beach town that her parent’s summer house was in — she walked into three small law offices, and guess what? One of the solo practitioners in the town offered her a job on the spot helping with his real estate practice. Another former student made a bunch of last minute calls to all of the temporary agencies in his city, and found a six week legally related “temp” position. Another freelanced, helping to set up a website for a lawyer she knew who wanted a website for her small firm, but was not comfortable with technology. One former student who had excelled on his LSAT did some LSAT tutoring. Another, who spoke Spanish fluently, found some freelance translation work.  

Another strategy is to look for non-legal volunteer opportunities which might be rewarding. A student I knew couldn’t find a legal job, but ended up mentoring and tutoring a young student through a nonprofit organization. She then kept in touch with her for many years after that summer ended. It turned out to be a great experience, and one of the best summers of her life.


Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students and lawyers. She is a Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University, and the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at