In an effort to help guide you in your public sector summer job search and beyond, we’d like to follow up with more details about 1L advising through OPIA. Below, we’ve answered some common 1L questions about accessing OPIA advisers and services.
Can I meet with OPIA even if I don’t want to work in a public interest job right after graduation or if I’m not sure yet?
Absolutely! The OPIA team is dedicated to supporting you in your individual public interest goals – in whatever form that takes for you. Whether you’re aiming to work in the public interest only during 1L summer, intending to stay in the public interest space for both summers and beyond, thinking about what a pivot to public interest after starting at a private firm might look like or are just not sure yet, we are happy to meet and get to know you.
When and how do I schedule an advising appointment?
According to Harvard Law School policy, 1Ls can receive career counseling starting October 15 and may apply for jobs starting December 1, with the exception of any fellowships or scholarships with early fall deadlines.
You can review adviser bios and schedule an appointment online for a meeting time on or after October 15. Any of our generalist advisers can help you begin your job search; choose one of the “general advising” scheduling options if you are in the early stages of exploration. Alternatively, you can select a particular substantive area from the options in the online appointment system if you have identified specific interests. Please do not email the general OPIA email address or individual advisers asking for an advising appointment, as all 1Ls should be using our online appointment system.
So that we can accommodate all students, please schedule an initial appointment with only one adviser. After you have met with an adviser, you may schedule a follow-up appointment and/or an appointment with another adviser if desired.
What should I expect at my first appointment with an OPIA adviser and what should I bring?
There are a lot of ways you could use your first appointment with an OPIA adviser! There is no set structure or agenda for advising appointments, and advisers can adapt to the ways you would like to use the time. We like to get to know a bit about you and what led you to law school, and your initial thoughts about how you would like to plug into public interest opportunities. We can discuss different areas of practice, financial considerations, short- and long-term goals you may have, and anything else that can be useful to you at this point in your journey.
There is no need to bring a resume or any other materials to your first appointment, as you will upload your resume when you schedule an appointment. However, if you would like to bring any self-assessment materials, notes about your own research, a list of potential organizations to which you’d like to apply, or any other materials, we are happy to look at these with you.
OPIA advisers are available to work with you as you learn about career options and pursue public interest opportunities throughout your time as a student and beyond. However, OPIA is not a job placement service; you should not expect that OPIA will place you in a specific internship or post-graduate job. Ultimately, even though we’re good at giving directions, you’re the one in the driver’s seat!
How can I start thinking about my 1L summer plans even before meeting with an adviser?
Reflection and self-assessment can be helpful first steps. Review 1L self-assessment materials, as well as our list of self-assessment questions. There is also a wealth of information available in our 1L Guide to Summer Jobs, our career and application guides, our summer job search FAQs, and in the Public Service section of Helios to help you start to think about public interest opportunities.
You can also learn more about Summer Public Interest Funding (SPIF), which can make it possible for students to accept unpaid or underpaid summer public interest jobs that might otherwise be financially unworkable. We encourage you to think broadly and thoughtfully about your summer options.
What else can I access through OPIA, outside of an advising appointment?
After October 15, OPIA also offers resume and cover letter review for 1Ls. Be sure to follow our suggestions for formatting and editing resumes and cover letters before you use the review service. OCS and OPIA have also posted resume workshop and cover letter workshop videos.
We will review one resume and one cover letter per student per academic year. If you are primarily interested in our cover letter review service, you must include your resume for reference. To take advantage of our review service, please complete our resume and cover letter review request form, uploading your materials as Word docs. Submissions will be returned in 10-14 business days with edits and comments.
In addition to appointments, you can access OPIA advisers during our daily drop-in office hours, where we can address brief questions that don’t necessitate a full appointment. You can also sign up for one-on-one meetings with our visiting Wasserstein Fellows.
Finally, you will continue to get event emails from us at the beginning of each week. We continuously update our events on the HLS calendar; you can find a feed of upcoming events near the bottom of our homepage.