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By: Tashania Morris
There you are standing on the stage in your graduation gown, waiting anxiously to accept your award…the degree you worked so hard to earn. You remember all the late nights you had to stay awake, missed vacations, and least of all the many, many cases you had to read, especially the ones written with soooooo much legalese you just wanted to run around the building screaming, “Who talks like this anymore?” (Or maybe that was only me).
Then your name is called. Yes, your moment has arrived! You walk proudly on the stage; collect your degree, shaking the hands of professors who helped to make this day possible. You can hear the whistles and screams of your family and friends cheering you on, and as you pose to get your picture taken. A great sense of accomplishment sweeps over you. On the inside you are yelling, “I did it! I did it! I am on my way.” All your hopes and dreams are riding on this. The thought enters your mind that this will be a new beginning; you will finally get the job and money you so eagerly awaited.
Then one of four things happens:
A year later, you are still in your old job. Yes, the one you wanted to quit the moment you walked off the stage with a degree in hand. Finding your first job in the field is not working out. You have submitted one application after the next – and still nothing. It was not supposed to happen like this.
A year later, you are able to land a job at a law firm. But, it’s not your dream job. Everyone knows you work at a law firm as a receptionist, and sometimes you feel a little embarrassed. As you answer one call after the next, the discouragement builds, you begin to think to yourself, surely, one does not need a college degree to answer the phone or do data entry!!!
A year later you are in your second Legal Assistant position and feel overworked, underpaid, and can’t wait to find another job. Your life is unfulfilled. You have yet to make a difference…at least not the way you thought you would. Recently, you were yelled at for not being able to find a file that was sitting on your attorney’s desk. To make matters worse a “no eating at your desk” policy was implemented because you accidentally spilled your coffee on a few files while hurrying. You go home at nights thinking, “What did I get myself into?” If you didn’t have bills to pay, and a family dependent on your income, quitting would be a great option. While you enjoyed learning about the subject – you hate the job, the deadlines, the clients and everything else that comes with it.
Six months later…you are living the dream. You have landed your first job and you are in love with it. This is what you have always wanted and luckily you were able to receive it. You are in an office with great people willing to teach and mentor you along the way and in the back of your mind, you know it is what you were created for.
Most of us at some point in our lives have been in one of the four situations mentioned above. Unfortunately, too many of us did not do the proper research necessary when choosing a major and embarking on a career path. We have all seen the television commercials and often mesmerized by the images of people on college campuses with the promise that a college degree will allow us to improve our financial stability and launch us into the next realm. We don’t take time to figure out if there will be a return on our investment or if a job market exists for the position we will be seeking in the cities we live. Some sadly enough don’t even know what job skills are required for such a position until after the graduation ceremony takes place.
The cold, hard, reality is – in the legal field most employers require experience. Your first job might not be as a paralegal, legal assistant or legal secretary. It might be making copies, answering the phone or data entry and if it is, make sure you do it to the best of your abilities. Ask questions, learn as much as you can and make it known that you would like to learn as much as possible with the intention of eventually earning your way into a higher priced seat.
Sometimes leaving a company might be the only way to get into the position one desires. Don’t underestimate the value of hard work and persistence. If you are a legal assistant and you hate your job, it’s never too late to change industries to find something that you are passionate about. The great thing about working as a legal assistant is that you create a number of transferable skills most employers seek. Find people that work in the field you are interested in. Make sure you do the proper research. It might be a good idea to meet with a career coach to help you on your way.
Remember that, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ~ Calvin Coolidge
Finding your first job might not be easy, nor is changing industry. The world does not owe you anything because you have a degree. You have the ability to change your future just get up, go out and start. Make a list of your goals and start working on them daily. Do something every day that takes you one step closer to your dreams, no matter how small. Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before inventing the first practical bulb and Lucille Ball was told by an instructor to forget her dream of acting. Volunteer, join local organizations, attend a seminar and take continuing education classes. Whatever you do – don’t give up. Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
Hey TPSers – Want to know what’s a wee bit intimidating? Writing your first article. Then watching it go live. Want to know who did that today? Tashania. If you appreciate her viewpoint or enjoyed today’s post, please give her a warm shout out by leaving a comment. We like to encourage creativity and sharing at every bend in the blogging road.
Now that I’m thinking about it – Tashania did forget to mention Thing #5 – that’s when you take a big ole drink of that caffeinated beverage sitting desk-side, laugh in the face of impossibility, smile as the winds of crazy hang heavy in the air, and seize your talent to successfully meander your way through yet another day of fun in the legal gauntlet. Yep – Thing #5, the time has come. Buckle up, my friends.
We’ll see you soon!