How to Maximize Your Experience at the Conference and Career Fair

/ Blog Post

Photo of Rochelle McCain

By Rochelle McCain, Equal Justice Works National Advisory Committee Member. Rochelle is also the executive director of the professional development office and co-director of the externship program at University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Equal Justice Works will host its annual Conference and Career Fair virtually from October 21-23, 2021. The Conference and Career Fair provides a wonderful experience. Whether it is someone’s first time or someone has previously attended, there is always something to inspire, recognize, and galvanize law students and the public interest legal community. The air is electric; as students move through the conference space (including the virtual space, as was the case last year and will be the case this year) and engage with public interest advocates. I am consistently reenergized each year by participating in events such as the keynote, concurrent sessions, table talks, and formal and informal networking moments the event provides. It is one of the events I look forward to every fall term!

Here’s some advice for law students looking to stand out and maximize their experience at this year’s career fair:

Set the Stage: It is easy to be distracted or disengage while attending a virtual event. Try to carve out dedicated time to immerse yourself in the conference by reducing any distractions. Also, be sure to take time to identify your goals and aims so you can make your time count.

Be Prepared: Take some time to acclimate yourself to the virtual platform well before you need to attend interviews or attend any concurrent sessions/workshops. Try to organize yourself and create a plan for navigating each day. Think about creating a “must do”, “can do”, and “may do” list, so you have options and alternate plans.

Pace Yourself: Virtual engagement, whether interviews or networking, can require significant bandwidth. Take moments to recharge so you can meaningfully connect with employers and benefit from the programming.

Stay Engaged: Make the moments you have with employers and professionals count. Many remember what it was like to be where you are now and have a wealth of information to share. Treat each and every conversation with employers as you would an interviews. Be prepared to quickly market your interest, skills, and experience. Think about and prepare a short pitch for yourself as time will be of the essence.

Follow-up and Follow-through: The Conference and Career Fair can provide a connection or be the start of a broader/greater conversation to come. It will require you to follow up with those you interviewed as well as those you had the pleasure to chat with during the event. Employers may have long days meeting hundreds of students, so taking the time to follow up after an exchange to reinforce your interest or continue the conversation will make you stand out. Create a system to track the employers you’ve submitted your resume to at the fair, so you have a comprehensive list. It’s a good idea to jot down other notes too, right after you speak with each employer. This will help you to stay consistent, in case you land a follow-up interview with the same person. Taking notes will also help you to effectively follow up with a call, email or formal letter.

Be Authentic: Many students try to fit the ideal prototype of what an employer is seeking and can lose themselves in the process. While you want to incorporate everything you have learned to ensure you are presenting professionally, you do not want to completely assume another persona. Many employers can spot this instantaneously. Let your interest, skills, experiences, and personality shine. Remember to be your best professional self, and it will resonate with others.

Visit here to learn more about the 2021 Conference and Career. If you have any questions about the event, feel free to reach out to [email protected].

Looking for more advice on how to prepare for the event? Check out these helpful posts from our law school engagement and advocacy team:

Learn more about becoming an Equal Justice Works Fellow