Zigzag to Get Your International Dream Job, Even if it Means Grueling Work

“How can I get my international law dream job?” Lawyers often ask me this question.  The truth is, if you were not at the top of your class from a top tier school, your path may be bumpy. Your path may have twists and turns without a dream job clearly in sight.

However, as I am explaining in my upcoming chapter for the new edition of Careers in International Law, if you persevere, network relentlessly, exercise excellent people skills, perform great work, develop expertise, brand yourself effectively, and willingly “zigzag” throughout your career, you will eventually succeed.  You may not end up with the job that you originally envisioned, but from my observation, really determined lawyers who aspire to international careers eventually get one.  (In fact, nowadays it’s even easier to do so as the number of international law jobs increases.  Thanks, Globalization!)

How do these lawyers do it?  As mentioned, they position themselves for success.  And, they are willing to take a job just to move another rung up the ladder.  Perhaps they take a particular job to acquire a needed skill or break into an industry. Or, perhaps they take an otherwise unpalatable job for the resume boost that it offers, knowing that they will eventually zig-zag up to a better position.

This came to mind when I read yesterday’s Wall Street Journal Law Blog post interviewing Cameron Stracher, author of Dinner with Dad. The media lawyer and New York Law School professor dished about a variety of topics.  When asked whether he advises his law students to take positions at grueling firms like Sullivan & Cromwell, the author stated, “And honestly most of the time I tell them that they should because I know that as unhappy as I know they’re going to be, they need that on their resume to go somewhere where they might be happier.”

Bingo. As you zig-zag up the international law career ladder, you might need to accept–albeit temporarily–a job at a prestigious sweat shop because working there will give you instant credibility down the line. Keep your eye on the prize.

Comments are closed.