Monday, October 18, 2004

I decided to get a jumpstart on my Monday, so here I am, at 3.21 a.m., wide awake after reading some of my RA work.

Temple Law School now has a (resuscitated) SALSA - South Asian Law Students Association. Just like APALSA or the JALSA, SALSA is a national organisation, but apparently Temple's SALSA died a couple of years ago when Indians decided they didn't like Temple. This year though, there's been a huge influx of Indian students and one of my friends decided to co-found the SALSA at Temple. I attended its first meeting, which had a decent turnout, surprisingly. I guess the free pizza and sodas helped. I was so impressed by the pizza's quality that I left the meeting as SALSA's Academic Chairperson. It's not official yet....I don't know if it'll be officialised even. But that's the position I hold in APALSA and since APALSA and SALSA are sister organisations and plan on making headway together, I'm assuming I am more or less "officially" the Academic Chair of both.

The networking banquet I attended was very very good. It was held at Montgomery McCracken's office premises, specifically in one of their conference rooms. It was gorgeous. An impressive library, awesome view of the city, and a heavy-duty ornamental chandelier were some of the room's perks. If I were a prospective client who conferred with the associates/partners in that roomm, I'd sign up for life. Even as I'd pay through my nose. The view alone would be worth it.

There were plenty of Asians at the event - both students and practioners. I was talking to a couple of associates from Montgomery McCracken and one of them was a bankruptcy lawyer. My conversation with her proved very illuminating. So I guess am still on course with my bankruptcy dreams. That came out all wrong, didn't it.... But anyway, attending the networking event truly opened my eyes to how the job market in the U.S. works. It's not so much your paper qualifications (although they are mandatory) as much as your contacts, your connections. I'd heard about this but I really understood the importance of the adage that day. Race plays a crucial role in the business community here, and hence all the SALSA, APALSA, BLSA, etc. In fact, one of the primary crowddrawers of these organisations is the contacts they provide their members.

When I attended the first ever SALSA meeting, it was astonishing to see how strong the bond is amongst the Indian community here. They are totally American, in accent, in lifestyle, and of course, aspirations, but they are still, at heart, Indians. There was an instant comaraderie between the people who attended the meeting. Such a bond is apparently what lies out there in the job market too. It seems to be a popular refrain here that successful people always want to see others of "their ilk" succeed. The Chinese and Korean communities want to see the younger generation achieve more. The South Asian community likes to see its youth set the bar even higher. The first thing that the founders (of SALSA) said at the meeting was that they knew a lot of successful South Asian lawyers who would like to extend a helping hand to other South Asians in getting jobs. There is even a mentorship program out there for South Asian students! It seems incredible to me that a nation that has a strong identity independent of race should then have such strong intra-racial ties.

Not that am complaining. Of course. Bring on the jobs!

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