I’m a second year student who’s eager to find some useful campus work that can lead to some great recommendation letters for law school. I’m particularly interested in working at the dean’s office or the office of my college’s principal. Is there an opportunity for students to find job placements in the above mentioned places? If so, where would I be able to find more information about this? I’ve done some research but haven’t found anything helpful regarding this inquiry.
Also, how long should you know a professor before asking them for a really good recommendation letter? A year? 2 years? I know it depends on the student-teacher relationship, which can be built strongly even within the first month of classes, but would a letter be more credible for an ivy league law school if it read that my prof knows me for X many years, as opposed to one semester or only one year (depending on the course)? I’ve heard of some students taking courses with the same professors over the years only to get a great letter from them at the end, but I can’t do the same because all of my required and elective classes so far and in the future are taught by different professors. If I only enrol in the courses with my well-liked professors, I’ll be taking courses that I’ll get random credit for, but not towards any of my designated programs. Is there a specific way to go about finding the right prof now to build a relationship with, or should I just stick to my 4th year profs?
Thank you so much for your help!!
i want to commend your eagerness. i can dimly remember being that excited and ambitious about things, though it’s a memory that’s fading fast. hopefully that doesn’t happen to you, too. (i mean, it likely will, but that’s not a very nice thing for me to say to a stranger, is it?)
i don’t know that i’ll be much help with the job-finding, other than pointing you in the right general direction, like a crotchety old woman who lives at the fork in the road and directs people down the path through the forest, not down by the sea, but doesn’t bother to tell you about the GIANT WOLVES you’ll have to fight to get through that forest (in this case the wolves are asking past employers for references, or something equally as unpleasant).
every college has such a radically different way of organizing itself – with different responsibilities attached to each office, different relationships between different offices, etc. – that the answer will change depending on the college. for example, when you say ‘dean,’ do you mean dean of residence? dean of students? at some colleges, both those roles are handled by the same person. at others, they’re split up. the principal’s office also handles a smorgasbord of different responsibilities, and what they are varies at different colleges.
feel your college out. go to events. get involved and meet people who know how the different offices work. i find that observation can go a long way, and sooner or later, you may hear about a job opening up that you can apply to.
generally speaking, i find these administrative university offices tend to hire either full-time staff or work-study students, but again, that’s about as specific as my knowledge gets. one really easy way to figure out who’s hiring is by scrolling through work-study postings on the CLN.
as for your references question: this may be annoying to you, but i feel like the answer is, don’t think about it too much? if you encounter a professor you really like, and you can find a way to take multiple courses with them by fulfilling degree credits, then do that. if not, don’t. I’ve never taken two courses with the same professor (the stars i.e. my schedule/course space/program req’s never aligned that way) and i’ve still asked for multiple professors for reference letters that they’ve happily given.
keep in mind that professors – especially third and fourth year professors – expect to receive reference letter requests. a lot of those courses tend to be smaller, so it’ll be a lot easier to get to know them than it is in a huge first- or even second-year class. if you are concerned about really getting to know a prof, a good idea may be to take an upper year research course. as well as being a wonderful learning experience, these courses facilitate one-on-one time with your supervisor. research supervisors are great people to ask for references, because they have a much more sophisticated knowledge of your work ethic, skills, personality, etc.
good luck with all of this! one final tip: start saving up for Harvard or whatever it is now. future you will thank you.