Ok, first on the agenda, let's clear the air. I don't like bickering blogs, so I'm not going to have one. Everyone's friends again, and we're over it. (And, if you're not, go do it on your own blogs.) Good? Good. Moving on...
A few days ago, a question was posed on Will Work for Favorable Dicta (a blawg I love to read) regarding job happiness, how you got there, and how you're loving it.
I think anyone who's read this blog knows that I'm pretty much a public defender in a very big city and I love my job terribly. I like being in court a lot, I love a trial, I love the stress and the ups and downs. If you weren't bipolar when you started in my office, you will be within a few months. I say this not to sell you on being a public defender (I truly believe that it's one of those things that's either in your soul or it's not), but by way of explaining how I found my perfect job.
Back in college, I had no idea that I wanted to be a lawyer. It had never crossed my mind. I got an internship in a PD's office for college credits, mostly because I thought it'd be kind of fun. Within a week or two of being there, I just knew "This is what I need to be when I grow up." I lived, ate, and breathed the cases I worked on, I followed the PDs around as much as they'd let me, I brought files home, I just couldn't get enough of it. I loved how when you get a case, it starts out looking like one thing. You start investigating it and the more you dig, the more you find that there's a whole 'nuther story under there.
Other people commented about their hours. "Regular" hours at a government job versus crazy hours at a big firm. I work crazy hours. But it's because I love it and I want to do a good job and if I'm not working, I'm thinking about work anyway. (Ever notice how lawyers have blogs about the law, while people in other professions just have regular old blogs?)
I don't think I could've settled for a job that I didn't love. And I was lucky to find a job I couldn't live without. (The only question after law school was, I know what I'm going to do, where should I do it?) But I think the best way to find that is by doing and by trying. There are a lot of jobs that look good from afar, but if you gave it a try for a few days you'd know it wasn't right. On the other hand, you might get lucky and find your perfect fit.
My best advice is do as many internships as you can. No one turns away free or cheap labor. Try out everything for a few weeks. I think that's the only way to find a perfect fit.