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Maintaining Your Sanity: Clerkship Edition

So the clerkship application due date is looming. This theoretically means applications should be underway… from experience though, what’s probably happening is “DO CLERKSHIP APPLICATIONS” is sitting on some to-do list somewhere, and that knowledge is weighing on your heart and your mind, but it’ll take the weekend they are due to really get them done. And then of course when you’re doing them you’ll berate yourself for not starting earlier. If this isn’t you and you’ve done all your applications already, well then you’re a bloody champion and should be congratulated. But if this is you, then know you are not alone. No matter what, the application process is hard work. It requires a lot of time, mental effort, waiting, rejection, networking and general nervous moments. Although I am absolutely no expert on the issue, looking back, I have a few things that made or would have made my application process easier, and I’d like to share them with you.

1. Friends are important but draw clear boundaries

During the clerkship process I made it clear to my friends that I didn’t want them to stress me out. I was happy to talk about firms or what was going in cover letters or what questions might be asked in interviews, but any talk that was stress-inducing was not something I wanted to be a part of. Similar to my attitude towards exams: talking about how under prepared someone is, how they’ve only applied for X amount of firms, how worried they are about a certain interview or how they don't think they will get any offers is extremely unhelpful when you’re already stressed. My advice is to draw clear lines in the sand with your friends about what you do and do not want to discuss with them during this time. It is stressful enough without having to also deal with other people’s stress. So be clear and make decisions that serve you.

2. Do not over exert yourself by writing thousands of applications

I know that it is the strategy of many to apply to a million firms in order to increase the chances of getting offers. This is a perfectly reasonable approach, however you also have to be realistic, and it is better to do less good quality applications than 25 sub-par applications. At the end of the day, you need a good application to get through, no matter how many firms you apply to. So my advice here is to be aspirational but also realistic in which firms you apply for, and make sure that the last application you plan to send (or at least the last application of the firms you care about) is of the same quality as the first.

3. Do not pre-empt the future

No one knows how the application process will go for them. It is obviously tempting and extremely hard to resist thinking about how many rejections/offers you’ll get. It is also completely natural to go through interviews over and over again in your mind after the fact. However, remember that once applications are in, or once the interview is over, no amount of reliving it in your mind will change anything. So try and stay mindful, and in the present. Taking each day at a time and not getting too caught up in the possibilities of the future. It is a waste of your finite energy, and things will eventually unfold in time. Deal with whatever comes up then.

4. Be kind to yourself

The process is stressful and long. Be kind to yourself. Make sure you’re keeping active (even in this crappy weather), eat well and drink lots of water. But most importantly, be kind to yourself mentally. If you’ve left your applications to the last minute don’t beat yourself up about it. Just get on with it and do what applications you can. If you get rejections allow yourself the space to grieve. Presumably you wanted an offer and the rejection hurts. Comfort yourself like you would a friend. Be supportive and encouraging, and do not lose hope. Even if things do not work out the way you imagined, they will in the end. Have faith in that.

5. Stay away from Whirlpool threads

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then good. Read no further. If you do know what I’m talking about then do not look at Whirlpool forums with details of when offers have been given or when interviews are etc. Anonymous posters are not your friend. Talk to your actual friends, or wait to hear from firms yourself. The forums are un-moderated and can create mass hysteria with a few clicks of the mouse. Do not put yourself through that. I hope you’ve found some of what I’ve written here useful. Good luck with the process. It’s hard but you can do it!

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