I start my internship for the summer next week, and tomorrow (today technically I guess), I have a phone interview for a super sweet internship that I’ve been gunning for starting in fall. While I am incredibly excited and grateful to have been extended these opportunities, and while I don’t doubt that I will learn immensely, I can’t help but feel frustrated as I start taking stock of where my future is headed.
This was brought on by two factors: first, the realization that by the time I graduate, I will have spent about four years of my life working unpaid internships; and second, returning home as a member of the “brain drain” only to find that all my friends from high school between the ages of 21 and 23 have all left town, started their careers, and even started getting engaged and/or married (meanwhile, I’m still in school, I have no source of income other than my allowance from my government overlords and/or mother, and I’m single)
I know this is mostly empty whining, especially since my summer internship is sending us all to the beach for a few days on the company, but it would be nice to actually have money to spend. I understand the concept of delayed gratification, but with the passage of time I find my patience starting to fray, especially given that it’s starting to seem like I’m going to have diminishing returns on the investment I’ve made. My family is, of course, baffled, since law school seems like the best idea EVAR because it means that when I graduate, they can hang out with me as I smoke cigars in a pinstripe suit at my 12-room, alligator moat mansion and use me to sue people that annoy them.
Needless to say, trying to disabuse them of this image isn’t exactly helping my situation, since they accuse me of not “staying positive.” I, in turn, have to explain that accepting the fact that I will not be handing out bottles of Cristal to everyone who visits my compound in the Virgin Islands is not “pessimism” but “realism.” It’s frustrating to have to explain to my family:
- that not every lawyer makes obscene amounts of money, that law firms that pay six figures won’t even consider applicants from beyond a certain GPA threshold, that my mediocre GPA puts me beyond the threshold of consideration, and that based on median salary statistics, I’m likely to be earning about $65,800 nine months out of school;
- that if I move back home the way they want me to, there’s a strong chance I would be making less than that, since the legal market in my hometown apparently celebrates the fact that it pays young lawyers less than other cities in Texas;
- that although a salary around $65k wouldn’t be bad, assuming I find a job where I make at least that much, or even with loan forgiveness programs, I will still have debt hanging over my head for a minimum of ten years, meaning that I’ll be paying student loans off until I’m 35, by which time I hope I’ll be married with kids;
- that in order to get to that point, I will have spent six years outside of the workforce in school, and that I will, in fact, have spent a total of about four years of my life working unpaid internships and not earning any money from that; and
- that despite what they think, the “prestige” of being a lawyer is not worth all that trouble, since women are only impressed by attorneys that actually make money, and since attorneys in general are among the most reviled professionals in America
Again, I’m not trying to be negative, per se. I’m just trying to realistically assess my situation. And while I don’t want to seem like a greedy, vain, materialistic person, it would be nice to have stuff.
AND while I know that overall, my situation is good, I’m extremely fortunate, etc….I still wish I could trade my student loan debt for, like, a Camaro or something.
EDIT: So I know this cuts against my entire pity party, but I just found out I got a good grade in my appellate advocacy/writing class. But still, shhh. Let me wallow.