I was very fortunate to find my current job as a result of the Small Firms and Public Interest Expo. As a third-year law student in my final semester, I was very worried about finding a legal job. I decided to approach the Expo like it was going to be a series of short interviews. To begin with, I sat down with the list of firms/companies attending, looked them all up, and created a “game plan” of who I wanted to visit and in what order I would do this. I made many copies of my resume to hand out, but I also made small “business cards” that listed a few notable achievements about me – almost like a small version of a resume that could be easily scanned in less than a minute. I figured that each professional who was there would be receiving way too many resumes that they would not have time to read. I wanted to give them a chance to see my best accomplishments in a quick snapshot before we began talking. This was a pretty unique idea and it got many of the professionals’ attentions. I liked it because it allowed these potential employers to learn the best about me without me having to “brag” about myself.
I had not planned on stopping by the National Labor Relations Board booth, as I had never even taken a labor law class, but I heard word from one of the Career Services Staff that there might be a permanent position open for their Peoria office. At the time, I had no clue where Peoria was, but a quick Google search revealed it was in the middle of Illinois. I had no interest in living in Illinois, away from all my friends and family. However, I needed a job. I felt that I had nothing to lose by at least chatting with that booth and figuring out what they did. Best. Decision. Ever.
The two attorneys at the NLRB booth both worked for the St. Louis office. I asked them what they do on a day-to-day basis and with every description they gave; I realized this would be a very interesting job! They told me that the majority of their job was taught to them through on-the-job training, so it was not a big deal that I had no knowledge of labor law. After asking them about the potential opening in Peoria, IL, they agreed to go ahead and give me the contact information for the person in charge of hiring there.
Afterwards, I immediately sent an email to the St. Louis attorneys, thanking them for taking the time to come out to Columbia and letting them know that I would be contacting the Peoria office that day. When I had sent my email to the Peoria office and had not heard anything for about a week, I reached out again to the St. Louis attorneys and asked them if they could give me any advice or help. This tenacity paid off and I eventually received a phone call from the Peoria office asking to interview me. Luckily, I did not have to drive all the way to Peoria, as the law school’s video-conferencing equipment saved the day. Based on this interview, I got the job and am now working as a Field Attorney for the Peoria office of the National Labor Relations Board. I had never even thought of labor law as a potential career, but I find that I love my job. It is different and exciting every day. I get a chance to interact with so many types of people, and helping the public is actually quite rewarding.
The moral of this story is to never limit yourself when it comes to job possibilities. Don’t be afraid to move away or look into a field that you had never considered.