I leaned back on my hands and enjoyed the warm sunshine on my face, which was a massive improvement over the chilly shade we’d been sitting in. I grabbed a couple peanuts, sipped my cold beer, and watched the boys of summer prepare for the season in a spring training game. It didn’t matter who was playing. I was enjoying the last moments of my spring break before I had to head home and face my last set of finals in law school, a summer of studying for the bar exam, and the search for a job. I savored every minute.

It would be hours later when I looked in the mirror that I learned of my fatal mistake — I’d forgotten to put on suntan lotion. How could the March Florida sun be that strong? And how exactly was I sitting so that only two-thirds of my face was sunburned? The sunburned part of my face was so red, and the non-burned part was so white. I looked like the reverse Phantom of the Opera.

Immediately upon my return from Florida, I had an interview for a yearlong clerkship with a judge, which was the first stepping stone in my legal career. No pressure. I did the best I could to cover it up with makeup, and I walked in there as if the Phantom sunburn was normal. And somehow I got the job.

Months later as my clerkship was ending, I learned that one of the reasons the judge had hired me was that I had actually showed up for the interview, despite the weird sunburn. And here I had hoped she didn’t notice. Since then, I’ve had to talk myself out of getting a Phantom sunburn before big job interviews. I just let me resume do the talking.

13 thoughts on “Sunburn

  1. Louise says:

    Funny what different people zone in on in interviews, isn’t it? I try to get a debrief from those who interview me after the fact when I can (whether I am successful or not), so I can find out what they liked and didn’t. There’s usually something they pick up on that never occurs to me!

    I also burn very easily so I felt your pain here 🙂

  2. Sam Merel says:

    I remember those last weeks before I dove into studying for my last semester finals and a summer of bar exam studying. I was determined to suck every ounce of fun out of those days before three months of drudgery. Sounds like you did exactly that, despite the phantom sunburn. Congrats on getting the job, that judge sounds amazing.

  3. gem says:

    That is great that an obstacle (oh crap a sunburn) got you a job!
    I recall in 7th grade forgetting to put on sunscreen. I’d sword I had, and I enjoyed an overcast day at the beach. On the way home my thighs kept itching and I thought it was leftover sand. only to find out I had turned into a lobster of sorts.

  4. mistyslaws says:

    Wow. That reminds me of a time that I was interviewing for judicial clerkships. One such interview was planned after I left my current job for the day, and my boss didn’t know I was looking for other employment. We wore jeans at work. So, I packed a suit and changed in a McDonald’s bathroom on the way to the courthouse. Only to find out that the suit that I had not worn for a few months was now super tight on me. I looked ridiculous. And slutty. What to do? No time to go home, so either miss the interview or go as is. I went. But I sat there the entire time in my long winter coat, claiming that I was cold, even though the heating system was set to “surface of the sun.” Oddly, I did NOT get that job. I’m glad yours went the other way! 🙂

  5. Dawn says:

    I really enjoyed this! I think that hiring someone who shines through when others would have hid was a great judgement call.

    Also, I can’t believe how many (ex) lawyers blog! Very cool.

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