Posted: February 27th, 2012
By: Philipp Campestrini (LL.M. Candidate, ’12)
The first step to actually get an invitation for the New York University International Student Interview Program (NYU ISIP) is to upload your resume to an internet portal. Matching to your profile, a list of different pre-selected law-firms is being provided. Most of these law firms come from your home-country because they have certain requirements which you personally have to fulfill. For me, for example, the language skills of German, French and English were the decisive requirements. Within this list I could bid for interviews and when the law-firms were interested, they invited me for an interview in New York. I received 10 interviews for the interview-day and 2 separate one-hour interviews. I was really happy that so many big Swiss law-firms showed interest in my resume and invited me for interviews.
A few weeks later, my journey to New York for the well known New York University ISIP began on a Thursday morning. My Swiss classmate who also got invitations for several interviews joined me and we travelled together. Fortunately, all professors from Wake Forest University School of Law knew that we had an important weekend coming and therefore, excused us for all classes on Thursday and Friday. Fully packed with suits, dress-shirts, ties and application-documents, we drove early in the morning to Greensboro to the Piedmont Triad International Airport. After a while of searching, we found an available long-term parking spot, but unfortunately this procedure took too much time and we had to rush to catch our flight to New York. Arriving at the last minute, we checked-in our baggage and boarded the airplane without standing in line. During the flight I prepared myself for the interviews and went through the list of possible questions with the corresponding answers I made during the past week. Examples of questions I made are: What are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you see yourself in five years? Why did you study law? Etc. We arrived in New York and took a New York City cab and asked the driver to bring us to the hotel where we shared the room. After settling down at the hotel-room we went to New York University to get all the documents and the entry-pass for the upcoming “Interview-Friday”. At NYU we saw many people from different countries and cultures waiting for their documents. This was probably the first moment I realized how big the NYU ISIP really is. It was overwhelming for me as a Swiss law student from Wake Forest University School of Law to see so many young and international law students. Next stop after picking up our documents was the Yale Club of New York where I had the first contact with a possible future employer. A very big international law-firm from Switzerland organized a cocktail-reception and invited me to get to know them in a more casual surrounding. I even met a familiar face there. One of my classmates from Germany was invited as well because there were Partners from the German branch present. The conversations went smooth and the atmosphere was very friendly. Not to mention the delicious appetizers and the exclusive wines. Exhausted and excited for the next day (“Interview-Day”) I went early to bed.
Finally, the long-desired Friday arrived. Early in the morning I ate an extensive breakfast at the hotel because I knew that the whole day was fully packed with interviews. Full of expectations, I arrived at the Kimmel-Center where all the interviews took place. An atmosphere of nervousness and tenseness reigned. All the students were standing in front of the rooms and waited until the doors were opened. It was very extraordinary when I entered the room for the first time. It looked like a ballroom full of small tables with numbers on it and I had to find the interview-table with the according employer already sitting there and waiting for me. The first interview passed by very quickly and after the 20 minutes, the speaker announced the end of the first round and requested the students to leave the room. Because my interview-schedule was tight I only had 5 minutes between the interviews to change the room, and sometimes the floor, to go to the next one. Within these minutes I could breathe deeply two or three times and prepare myself for the next interview-partner. Already a bit more experienced and more self-confident the students entered the room and went to the table with their next interview-partner. Again after a short 20 minutes the speaker asked the students to leave the room and everybody exited. Although I have never experienced something like this, I felt like I was participating at a speed-dating-event. I changed the room or table and answered many of the same questions. Only the people sitting in front of me changed. The same procedure went on for the whole day except a short lunch-break where I could summarize the interviews I had and prepare myself for the upcoming ones. Nevertheless, all the interviews were very interesting and diverse because I got to know partners from different law-firms and heard about their work climate.
After the last interview at NYU I had to change the scenery and went to the Hilton Hotel where another interview took place. This law-firm also contacted me through the NYU ISIP program, but told me that from their previous experience that the 20 minutes interview was too short for them. The one hour interview was more relaxing because the interviewers took their time to ask more specific questions and I had time to think about my answers. I crossed my classmate’s path at the next cocktail-reception at the Soho Grand Hotel. There we had a few cocktails with two partners from another international law-firm from Switzerland and talked about their firm, the experience we had throughout the day, and so on. However, we could not stay long because the next event was scheduled. One of the biggest law-firms from Switzerland invited all Swiss LL.M.s who were at the ISIP for a dinner at the Restaurant at The Four Seasons. Since we got to know other Swiss people during all these events, we shared a cab to go there and networked a bit amongst each other. The dinner was fantastic and it was a perfect way to round off the whole interesting day.
The Saturday started with another one hour interview, which was also very interesting because it was one of the few interviews which were held in English. The law-firm wanted to know how good my English skills are. After this interview I had time to spend the whole afternoon sightseeing in the wonderful “Big Apple”. I walked around Central Park with my Swiss classmate and we made a boat-trip to see the Statue of Liberty and the rest of Manhattan.
In the evening, NYU organized an international LL.M. party where all LL.M. students could enter for free and enjoy free drinks for one hour. The venue for this party was a big club in the middle of Manhattan called Pranna. The club was packed with LL.M.s and on all three floors they played different music to dance to and had plenty of sitting possibilities to get to know new people. It was a nice experience to meet so many different international law students and I had many interesting discussions with LL.M.s from other countries.
On Sunday morning another Swiss law-firm organized a brunch for all the interviewees. Everybody looked very tired, as was I, because the night was short and nobody slept very long. It was nice because the partners from the law-firm said that they know about the party from previous interview-years and therefore, they understood that everybody was exhausted and tired. Luckily, they still wanted to take the opportunity to get to know each of us a bit more in a more informal way. After the brunch I went back to the hotel and picked up my suitcase and drove to the airport to fly back home to Winston-Salem.
All in all, it was one very interesting weekend with many nice impressions, and new business contacts. I hope I will hear positive feedback from my interview partners. The whole weekend and all the interviews were organized very well by the NYU ISIP committee and I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend this renowned event. I definitively recommend every LL.M. student to participate in it because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet all these prestigious law-firms and their partners. Furthermore, it is a big springboard to start or to further ones legal professional career.
Philipp Campestrini is from Zurich, Switzerland and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Law from Zurich University of Applied Science. Mr. Campestrini additionally earned a Master’s of Law degree from the University of Lucerne. He will graduate with his Master’s of American Law (LL.M.) degree in May 2012.