I learned a really interesting thing yesterday: Many law schools have programs for students to apply for funding to attend conferences. Sometimes this is through career services, sometimes it is through the SBA, but if you ask around, you just might find out that there is money available to you to attend conferences or networking events—so you don’t have to pay for them yourself.
Isn’t this fabulous? I didn’t know about this when I was in law school (and neither did Alison). If I had known that I could have gotten a few hundred bucks to invest in attending an event or a conference, I definitely would have gone. Why not? You have nothing to lose but, perhaps, a Saturday. So why are conferences important?
You might learn something.
Alison and I go to quite a few conferences. Some we write about (you can see my review of the Ms. JD conference from last October here) and some we don’t. Sometimes we learn something incredible, and sometimes we go for Starbucks. But each time, something can definitely be learned—from the speakers and the other attendees. That is the point of conferences—to learn.
You might meet people.
This is what I think is the best part of conferences—you are in a group of like-minded people. There is a self-selection. They are by default interested in something you are interested in. You can be almost guaranteed to have something to talk about. And, who knows, you may even make friends and connections. I have never gone to a conference and not left with new friends or connections. Sometimes, you even run into old friends at conferences. This happened to me at the last ABA conference I went to. I reconnected with an attorney I had worked with years ago and we recently had lunch. Would I have reconnected with her had I not attended the conference? Doubtful.
Attending conferences might help you get a job.
So how can a day or two at a conference help you in your job hunt? See points one and two above. In this job market you must be constantly learning and meeting new people. You can never be sure when an opportunity may present itself (remember, just say, “Yes”). Putting yourself in groups where there are practitioners participating or presenting at the conference is a great way to network and get exposure. And if you learn a few new things, you have valuable material to talk about in an interview or include in a cover letter.
Conferences or networking events can be expensive. But before you turn away and say, “Hey, I don’t have the money for that, I am in law school!” please take a moment to investigate your options. Ask your SBA, career services office, or dean’s office if funding or scholarships are provided for students to attend conferences. You might find out there is financial help to get you there. And once you are there, you will have the opportunity to learn something new and meet some new people. Basically a win-win situation, right?
Have you had a great experience at a conference or did your school help you attend a conference? If so, let us know about it in the comments.
Here’s all of Job Hunting 101:
- Job Hunting 101: It’s Not All About You
- Job Hunting 101: Project a Consistent Image
- Job Hunting 101: Don’t Neglect Your Headshot
- Job Hunting 101: What Makes You Unique?
- Job Hunting 101: Google Yourself
- Job Hunting 101: Did You Know Your Law School May Pay for Conferences?
- Job Hunting 101: Get Out and Meet People
- Job Hunting 101: Be Careful Who Your Facebook Friends Are
- Job Hunting 101: Follow Up
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