A post from our student blogger Catie
We’re already three weeks into our second semester in the MSPL and life is eventful. We have all new classes, an outside patent attorney to provide guidance as we draft the patent application for our capstones, and we leave for San Francisco next week! It feels as though the only things that haven’t changed from last semester to now are that time definitely flies, and we remain perpetually busy.
Although we are finding our rhythm in completing assignments and staying on-task for our new schedule of classes, we are all finding that earning that ‘A’ that we all want on our assignments is not quite as simple as last semester. This is not to say that last semester was easy by any means; our patent law classes from last semester focused on learning the fundamentals of patent law, searching, and drafting, and we learned so much and worked incredibly hard to tie it all together during our technical presentations for the rest of the semester. Our patent classes from this semester are less connected to our capstone projects and focus more on the office work and skills that we must be equipped with once we land a job in the field.
We have learned quickly that we will not earn high scores on our assignments for this semester by simply completing a task; we must have every tiny detail correct and self-review our work constantly to make sure our work is nearly flawless. Trust me: we have all bemoaned this standard to which we will be held, but our professors have been clear in explaining to us why this is. They tell us that, yes, we will all make silly, rookie mistakes when we enter our first job. It will happen and it will be expected.
However, in patent law where you record your own hours and bill by the hours of work you have performed, any mistake that you make must be fixed, and that is time and money that your employer must pay for. An office action can be returned to you for any miniscule mistake, and your employer will not be happy that they have to pay you to fix something that maybe could have been avoided had you had the prior experience in filing the document or had checked it over one last time. Our professors have doled out tons of ‘tough love’ on our assignments so far, knowing that we would make these common mistakes, because it acts as a learning experience for us to make sure that we remember our frustrations now and don’t make the same silly mistakes when we have to bill for it in a real job.
On another note, we had a night of team building exercises and dinner with Dean Crawford in preparation for our fast-approaching San Francisco trip. We were told to arrive in workout clothes, as the team building exercises would include “some light exercise”. Either we are all out of shape or we got a little too into the competition aspect, because we all had a good sweat going by the end. This was followed up by a fantastic dinner with fun conversation and great people. As it has been mentioned before in the blog, we are really like a family in the MSPL. We thoroughly enjoy each other’s company and we go through the struggles of failing and learning together as nascent patent agents. We also joked at dinner about how our professors and program directors are like our parents: they may come down pretty hard on us at times, but they only do it because they care about us and want to help us be the best that we can be. I could not be any more excited to experience the innovative world of San Francisco with such wonderful people. See you on the flip side, South Bend!