By Roberta O. Roberts, Esq. of Grace for the Grind™ • November 20, 2017•Writers in Residence, Careers, Law School
“Follow up.” Follow up after a networking event, follow up after a meeting, and follow up with yourself. This two-word piece of advice is applicable to career, school, and life, and has served me well (when I actually consistently apply it).
“Attend networking events” is a popular piece of career advice given to young professionals. But how many of us are guilty of going to a networking event, having engaging conversations and exchanging contact information, only to let the person’s business card sit in your purse for months until you realize you forgot to email them to follow up? While building your network by going to an event with like-minded people you can meet and exchange contact information with is very important, it is most effective if you actually follow up after the event.
The follow up is how you build the relationship that may last for years to come.
During September of my 1L year, I attended a networking event for students interested in public service and public interest work. There I met an attorney who worked for an office I had never heard of before and who told me about an internship program that sounded like a solid learning and professional development opportunity. I followed up with the attorney after the event via email and learned that the office had an attorney shadow program for law students in the spring semester. I participated in the shadow program and the same attorney gave me mini assignments to help me gain more experience in the field. I ultimately received an offer for a summer internship in the office, which is in the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), and it served as great experience in support of my later application for the Attorney General’s Honors Program (I entered on duty as a DOJ attorney through this program). It has been more than five years since I met this attorney and we still keep in touch, and this all started from me actuallyfollowing up after a networking event.
Following up is not only important for networking purposes, but also for working on a team, whether in law school or in the work force. No matter what setting you are in, you do not want to be “that person” who doesn’t complete the task she said she would complete. Consistently failing to keep commitments causes people to lose trust and faith in you, which makes it difficult to work in a team. On the other hand, being the person known for always following up and doing what she said she would facilitates teamwork and “makes the dream work.”
Finally, it is important to follow up with yourself and your dreams. Do you still feel excited about the interests you are pursuing in law school? Are you doing what you told yourself you wanted to do with your career? Follow up in all areas of your life, consistently, and you will see meaningful results in your law school and career journey.