Notwithstanding this statistic, networking, for many students continues to be a daunting process. When, however, you start to think about the process of networking as nothing more than meeting people who have valuable information to share, the more manageable the process will become for you. Moreover, networking or “meeting people” early in your legal career will help you establish and create relationships with your colleagues and legal professionals that may pay dividends in the future.
Today, finding a job depends largely on your personal contacts. People in your network can help you learn about available opportunities before they hit the “open market.” You also are more likely to be offered a job if you have a personal connection to the organization. Networking in addition to the vital role it may play in helping you to secure a job, it can also be an important tool for learning more about a particular legal specialty especially during your legal career when you are still trying on different practice options.
The Career Development Office offers students many opportunities to network while at Widener, including the Mock Interview program and panel discussions.
Your contacts can include anyone you know who has anything to do with the legal profession or with some business-related connection to the areas of interest to you. This may include people you know who are lawyers or are in business, former professors, parents of friends, neighbors, friends of friends, etc. Your network can never be too large!
If you think you do not have any contacts, think again! Widener Law Commonwealth Alumni are remarkably supportive of our students and are a great resource to start with. Lawyers in general but Widener Law Alumni, specifically are often willing to talk with you informally about their work. The Alumni Relations Office maintains an Alumni Directory, a database that makes it easy to connect with alumni in certain practice areas or regions (we hope that you will join after graduation and serve as resource to future law students.)
You may hesitate to make demands on your contact’s already busy schedule. But your contact may be more enthusiastic about sharing his or her knowledge and experience than you expect. Imagine yourself in that situation ten years from now when you are more established. You might be willing to spend a little time to give some guidance to an upcoming lawyer. Moreover, if you approach networking correctly, it should not be awkward because you are not asking your contact for a job, instead you are requesting advice. Almost everyone enjoys giving advice and talking about his or her experience.
Networking can sometimes appear ineffective in the immediate short term but often pays dividends in the long run. Many times a contact will remember you and recommend or offer you a job in the future. Networking can help with job opportunities here and abroad. Ultimately, you will need to network to generate business and opportunities for your future employer throughout your career. Now is the ideal time to get started.