On Friday, February 28th, Mizzou Law students will have the opportunity to attend the annual Small Firm and Public Interest Expo held at Reynolds Alumni Center from noon to 2:00 pm.  The event is a wonderful way to network with employers and attorneys from federal and state agencies, non-profits, and firms.

Last week, the blog emphasized how to prep for the Expo, this week the focus is on what to do when you are actually there.  You’ve researched the employers, you’ve made a plan of who you would like to visit, you have your elevator speech ready, you’re professionally dressed with resumes in hand,  now what?

When you enter the Reynolds Alumni Center through the side entrance (closest to the Law School), you will see in front of you, the Student Registration Table.  There you will find a name tag and maps of both rooms.  This year, small firm employers will be in the Great room and public interest employers will be in the Columns Ballroom.  We will have two maps with keys on the back to assist you in locating the employers you are interested in visiting.  However, we highly recommend talking to other employers to learn about new practice areas and legal positions that you may not have considered.

There will be a couple of student tables in the hallway, so that you can sit down and make a plan.  Coffee, tea, water and cookies will be available in the Alcove for students.  Take a moment to orient yourself and figure out where the firms/agencies are located that you want to visit. 

I recommend starting in the room that is not as busy.  This will give you a chance to approach employers right away and begin practicing your networking.  In the public interest room, there will be chairs for the students to sit across from the employer and talk.  Keep your conversations fairly brief, no more than five minutes.   Basically this is a mini-informational interview to learn more about a particular agency or practice area.  Ask if they have summer positions or externships available.  If so, a quick informational interview could turn into a mini-interview! 

In the Great Room, the small firms tend not to use chairs for the students (although they are available) and the attorneys stand and greet the students.  The small firms tend to be busy, so you may see students lingering around the sides, waiting for a particular table to become free.  There is also food in the Great Room, but it is specifically for the employers.

If a specific employer is busy that is on your list, use the time to visit other employers that you know little about.  Ask them about their jobs, what do they enjoy the most, what do they find most challenging, etc., this will assist you in learning more about different possibilities and determining what might be a good fit for you.

After you have talked to several employers, you may want to take a break, sit at one of the tables in the hallway and make some notes.  Be sure to bring a notebook or pad-folio not only to hold your resumes and business cards, but to keep notes of what you’ve learned from each employer. A few employers who are coming will be having interviews after the Expo, either through OCI or by setting up appointments at their firm or agency to interview.

Several students last year, were contacted a month or so later by an employer that they had left a resume with.  At the Expo, they did not have a summer opening, but a month later they were hiring.  They pulled out the resumes they had collected at the event and decide to select a few students to interview for a summer position.  Be sure to conduct yourself professionally at all times, whether you are eating a cookie out in the hall or talking with a friend, you are being observed and are making an impression!

Hope to see everyone at this special event!