These stories come from graduates of the History Department who, after receiving their BA degrees, embraked upon a variety of careers.
These alumni talk about their current lives and the paths they took to get there. They share insights about the value of their history studies in their careers and what they did during and after college that led them to their current positions.
Browse through to see how versatile a history background can be.
Erin Mays (BA 2002) considered many concentrations including archeology, business, and arts administration. A summer job at an embassy in Cyprus made her think about pursuing an international relations career. She settled on a history concentration because she enjoyed the field. “History is a good base for multiple careers as long as you supplement it properly.”
Erin supplemented her liberal arts degree with a senior year marketing class and a job during college doing publicity for the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra (AASO). After graduation, she stayed on with the AASO. Recognizing that the organization needed someone to do their marketing, she was able to create her own job and develop skills in marketing, advertising, graphic design, and public relations. The U-M Career Center offered some useful tools such as lists of organizations to join to get names of people to whom she could send her resume. Her own research in marketing gave her additional skills. With two years of real world experience, she moved to Franco Public Relations Group in Detroit. As an account executive, she handles the media buying (ad placement) and public relations for a variety of large companies and organizations. Some of her responsibilities are planning and implementing multi-media advertising campaigns, developing marketing plans based on client needs, and working with news media (drafting/distributing news releases, planning special events, coordinating media coverage).
Erin has found her niche and plans to stay in automotive public relations. How has her history degree helped her career? Erin notes that by studying history “you have to become an expert on something you know nothing about in four months. You learn to look at (events) from different angles, pick up on something quickly and write about it. You learn to understand huge concepts quickly and put them together in a quick timeline.” She credits her history background for teaching writing skills, fact checking, critical thinking, and organizational skills that she uses every day.
Financial Advisor / Wealth Manager
“I manage clients’ money and give them advice regarding their financial goals/investments. I never planned on ending up in this career, and even during my senior year never would have guessed that this is where I would end up. I had my resume posted on the career website and was contacted by American Express Financial Advisors to interview in Chicago. Long story short, I liked the opportunity and have been doing this since. I spent the summer after graduation studying for my licensing exams (series 7 and 66), and was up and running by August. Several firms do offer training programs that can help get you started, but I think the best way to get into this field is through a firm such as Northwestern Mutual, Ameriprise, or some of the others that still hire and train new advisors. Don’t think that being a history major limits your career opportunities ... I’ve found that it actually can broaden your options and makes you a more interesting/versatile job candidate. Employers often times look for well-rounded individuals and rely heavily on your ability to learn and adapt rather than what you’ve specifically studied in school.”
—Mitchell Stein (BA 2005)
Senior Consultant (Market Strategies)
“I help to prepare analyses and recommendations on the execution of our sales strategy. I perform a lot of data gathering and incorporate various statistical / financial methodologies to understand how our company can more effectively reach different markets and grow our business. I have also worked at Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan within the Syndicates and Investment Banking divisions. History has always provided me with endless fascination. I decided to take a few courses in economics at U-M as well. In my four years of working in finance, I have learned that the skill set I gained as a history major has been the most influential aspect of my career advancement. I hope to start a consulting company and/or investment fund that specializes in developing/sourcing assets and resources in the Third World. I believe there is a strong moral obligation to provide the necessary resources for developing nations to succeed that does not have to be mutually exclusive to one’s financial motivations.”
—Alum (BA 2005)
Small Business Owner (Health Care)
From an early age, David Kennedy (BA 2003) was interested in healthcare so he thought pre-medicine would be his undergraduate focus. But as a first-year student, he realized that his passion was for studying history, not medicine, and that there were ways other than being a doctor to help those in need. Volunteer work during college provided him experience working with senior citizens. He led a group of students on weekly visits to a local nursing home through a campus group (V.I.E.W.), developing relationships with the residents and, through Neighborhood Senior Services, he helped a home-bound senior with shopping and meals.
With no formal experience in the field, on graduating at age 20, David opened his own home health care business, Kennedy Care. “By owning and managing my own company, I can organize my employees to effectively serve many more individuals that I could do on my own.” Start-up funds were one of the challenges he faced. He used his small savings to print marketing materials and pay fees to register his business as a legal entity. David did much of the work himself to save on the expenses of starting a business. He compensated for his inexperience by networking through the Office of Services to the Aging and local non-profits. “I cannot emphasize enough how valuable networking and being inquisitive were for me.” He pursued numerous contacts to learn all he could from many people, asked for more names and numbers at each meeting, and developed relationships with four mentors in the field.
He completed two relevant masters programs while running his business. In the School of Social Work, his concentrations were “Aging in Families in Society” and “Management of Human Services.” He was also in the Health Services Administration program in the School of Public Health, which allowed him to understand the details behind how the US health care system operates and how to effectively manage his organization. David believes his background in history enhances his ability to run his business. “My experiences in learning about early to mid-twentieth-century American history have enabled me to better understand the older adult population that I work with. Their life experiences have formed many of their beliefs and attitudes and by understanding this I have been able to know how many older adults should be approached and how to gain their trust.” Communication and writing skills are other essential tools he developed as a history student, but some courses outside the liberal arts can offer other skills necessary for business.
“My recommendation to any current history students interested in starting a business would be to utilize the opportunity take classes that would be helpful for their desired venture. There are so many other classes needed to fill up the 120 credits at the university, so don’t be afraid to take challenging classes in the schools of business, engineering, etc.”
Broadcaster / Media Talent Agent
From childhood, Matt Kramer (BA 2004) was passionate about two things - sports and writing – which together have led him to a successful career as an agent for sports media broadcasters at CSE (formerly Career Sports & Entertainment). His path has been guided by skills he learned in history classes, sports writing experience gained at the Michigan Daily, internships, and personal connections he developed along the way. Also, “you have to be willing to make very little money for the first few years.”
Matt’s advice is to “make sure you take ‘something’ from every internship you get.” Personal networks are crucial in his field. While in college, he interned for two summers in the sports department of a San Francisco TV station. “I am still close to the guys I interned for after my first year… they were critical in getting me my first NFL job.” That job was in Public Relations for the San Francisco 49ers. “I convinced them that even though I had zero PR skills, I thought I had better writing skills than any of the other applicants and told them I would write all the press releases.”
Another summer internship after sophomore year as a legal aide intern in Washington D.C. convinced him that law school was definitely not the right direction for him. “I missed the action and speed of sports, journalism, TV, etc.”
“Personal connections can only go so far. They can slightly open the door for you…but you have to walk through it yourself.” His first NFL job led to positions with the NFL in Europe and the Atlanta Falcons before being hired to start the athlete public relations division of Career Sports & Entertainment (now CSE). This Atlanta agency represents professional athletes and coaches in a variety of sports as well as sports broadcasters. He became a talent agent in the Broadcasters Division and now represents sports TV broadcasters and new media talent across the country.
“The base of all the things I had to do to get to where I wanted to be in my career circled around the ability to write and speak to my clients/TV executives, the ability to convince people, and the ability to deliver something important in a short period of time…ALL of which I learned primarily from taking history courses at Michigan.”
Like many first-year students, Jeremy W. Peters (BA 2002) was unsure of where he would end up after graduation, perhaps law school. He eventually chose a double concentration in history and political science. “History majors choose it because they like history, not because they are looking for a clear path to a job.” Jeremy’s path led him to the office of the Michigan Daily student newspaper which became his second home for the next three years. The many hours he spent there paid off when an editor from the New York Times dropped by. Jeremy introduced himself and gave his card. Although he was not offered a job on the spot, his assertive approach to job searching led him to become a writer for that paper a few years later.
CNN came to campus to interview students about the U-M affirmative action lawsuits, a meeting that led to a CNN internship. “Internships show employers that your experience isn't limited just to academia.”
After graduation, he became his own career center, going from office to office in places he wanted to work, handing out his resume. His strategy was to find the right people, contact them, and let them know he wanted to work for them. “Call and call and be a pest.” Networking is key to getting the job over the other thousands of good writers out there.
He recommends doing things in college that make you stand out, such as internships and extra-curricular activities, to show potential employers that you have something to give the organization. He notes that very few of the reporters he knows earned a journalism degree, but most wrote for their college newspapers.
His persistence paid off with a two-year job at a small newspaper in the Virgin Islands where he honed his skills writing every day on the whole range of local issues. Today Jeremy is a writer for the New York Times. He was originally based in Detroit, covering mainly business issues, as well as local events of national interest before moving to New York to cover media, business, economics, and regional news.
History was a good teacher of writing. “Although I don’t necessarily call on my history knowledge while I am doing my job, I find my degree is helpful in structuring and organizing my stories. History teaches you how to look for broad themes and tell a story about why those broad themes are relevant. Journalism is the same way. You take an issue, boil it down to a few relevant points and then tell a story letting people know why they should care.”
News Desk Editor (Radio)
“I interned at the station [WBEZ, Chicago Public Radio] before being hired on full time. I spent summers during my undergrad years doing internships and other activities to get me well positioned to enter the media field, as there was no broadcasting department at U-M. Most people start out in small markets, after extensive experience during college. I do draw on my history background when examining issues related to the world today. A well-developed sense of critical reasoning, skepticism, and a strong research background are all critical.”
—Ammad Omar (BA 2005)
Writer / Associate Producer
“[After U-M,] I got a master in broadcast journalism. I came to the Bay Area for an unpaid internship and was hired much, much later [at the local NBC affiliate]. When working on stories that have complex historical background (Iraq, Middle East conflict, even US history), I get to use what I learned as a history student in providing perspective to today’s news. Don’t take too many US history classes … branch out!”
—Janette Williams (BA 2002)
Community Center Director
“I manage all matters pertaining to community center programs, services, and activities for primarily low income families. I always had a desire to work in social/public services. Several elements of my career path led me to this position. The combination of my military experience and education certification comprised two of the largest necessary skills of my current career: management and educational programming. I am going back to school part-time to achieve a masters of public administration. My background in history has provided a wealth of understanding of the complexities of my position and those I serve. History has provided me with an ability to better understand and help to fix the effects of poverty on families by seeing past traditional viewpoints and offering unique perspectives on ways to alleviate and remedy the problems associated with poverty.”
—Derrick Miller (BA 2006)
Peace Corps Volunteer
“[As fistula coordinator for the national hospital in Niger,] I coordinate the translators for the three American surgical missions each year, work with the women and literacy [efforts], help sell and come up with new jewelry designs. I started a garden at the fistula center so the women can eat healthy and learn new skills, and I’m currently working with a social worker to start an association for women who will never be healed. The job is for third-year extendees only. If you want to work in public health/development, especially in the international sector, you can either join the Peace Corps or you pretty much have to have a master’s degree. Networking with any job is a must; however, who you know can only go so far if NGOs are only willing to hire people with higher degrees. Volunteering and foreign language are also really important.”
—Elizabeth Hunt (BA 2007)
“The Institute for Community Peace organizes and implements research projects pertaining to juvenile violence prevention strategies in low-income communities. I have always been interested in social science research and especially in troubled youth development. My history degree prepared me immensely for the field of research because it taught me how to critically examine a topic from the research stage, to the final report stage. There are a plethora of non-profit and public interest jobs in Washington, DC, and while it’s best to use connections to tap into these organizations, various search engines like Idealist.org and Craigslist are vital resources for new graduates.”
—Lauren Feldman (BA 2004)
Medicine / Science
Medical Doctor (Anesthesia Resident)
“I went to medical school right after college. I knew I wanted to practice medicine, but I was also interested in history too, so I decided to do the medical pre-reqs and major in history. I feel that taking a lot of history classes made me a more well-rounded student. The thought process that went into studying for a basic science course was much different than a history course. Even in medicine you have to be able to organize your thoughts well and be able to communicate effectively. I really feel that the history courses at U-M taught me to do this well.”
—Jennifer Rhee (BA 2004)
Medical Doctor (Neurosurgery Resident)
“Regardless of what you want to ultimately pursue, be it law, medicine, teaching, etc., a history degree will give you critical thinking, creative thinking, analytical, and communication skills which will carry you far. And it will make you more interesting!”
—Alum (BA 2004)
Museums / Archives / Public History
Heather Piegza (BA 2002) became interested in the field of museum administration while an undergraduate at UM working as a docent in the Exhibit Museum of Natural History on campus. This led her to the Museum Studies Graduate Program at the George Washington University in Washington, DC As a graduate student at GWU, she completed two internships (one at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History and one at the Gettysburg National Battlefield Museum Foundation) and worked at the Montgomery County Historical Society (Rockville, MD) as a weekend coordinator and The Phillips Collection as an administrative assistant.
After working, interning, and volunteering at various museums, foundations, and historic houses, she discovered that she belonged in a large museum, working in public programs. Her own internship experience as the Assistant Intern Manager at the National Museum of American History cemented her desire to work with interns. These kinds of varied experiences are important to discover the appropriate education and best route to a career in one of the various aspects of the field (administration, exhibit design, collections management, or education). “An unpaid internship or volunteer experience at a museum often leads to a permanent position. Many interns and volunteers continue as paid staff in the same museum in which they worked or are recommended by their supervisors for positions in other museums. The museum community is very close-knit, especially in Washington, DC, and offers rewarding careers for those interested in sharing new and challenging ideas with the world -- a very fitting position for a history student.”
Heather was a program assistant in the Smithsonian Institution’s Office of Research Training and Services, where she administered several highly competitive internship programs. Communication skills were essential in her position in order to work effectively with the many museums and offices within the Smithsonian, as well as with outside applicants and researchers. She used her history student background every day when conducting research or creating well-developed reports. She also held positions in museum administration and as Library Coordinator for the museum’s collaborative library learning program. “My years at Michigan prepared me for graduate school and the years beyond in more ways than I could have known. I learned how to really read and write history, and this proved invaluable in my graduate studies as well as in my professional museum career.” After enjoying five years of working in Washington, Heather returned to Ann Arbor to take a position at the University of Michigan Exhibit Museum and is now working in the U-M Museum Studies Program.
Museum Associate Director
“The position is part of my graduate studies at Eastern Michigan University (a partnership between the Ypsilanti Historical Society and the university). I manage many of the museum’s administrative functions—such as coordinating interns and volunteers, administrating grants and helping organize membership meeting, and programs. Additionally, I am also helping to digitize our collections records into a database program and assisting with upkeep of collections and exhibits. I also guide tours, answer phone and email inquiries and interact with the public. A strong content background in history or art history is very helpful in a historical museum. Research skills are incredibly useful and in the museum field, the ability to interact with the public, organize, deal with ambiguity at times and be very creative are all very helpful traits.”
—V. Robinson (BA 2006)
Program Coordinator / Museum Interpreter
“I teach groups of schoolchildren about daily life from pioneer time (1820s) to about 1920 [at a historic village museum]. I also lead tours, and other educational programming. I find appropriate speakers to come and give presentations to our audiences. Beginning after high school graduation, I have found summer jobs/internships at different history museums. At U-M, I worked at the Exhibit Museum, and did behind-the-scenes work at the Museum of Anthropology, in addition to taking the two museums courses open to undergraduates at that time. After college, I joined the Peace Corps, where I taught English. This gave me classroom experience. As a secondary project, I worked with a village museum in the town where I was serving. Internships are also valuable, and sometimes easier to get than a job. When jobs cannot be found, volunteer experience at a museum can be very important. You have to get in there, and get to know the people who work in the museums. I always found ‘informational interviews’ helpful to have with people whose job I wanted in the future.”
—Alum (BA 2003)
“I became interested in archives as an undergrad at U-M working at the Clements Library. My job [at the Arizona Archives Online] involves interacting with primary sources and my background in history helps me understand the context in which the primary sources were created. In addition, I interact with historians using the documents and a general knowledge of the process of researching and writing history is useful. My master in information science with a specialization in archives was necessary for me to get this job. For the field of archives having internship experience is very helpful in obtaining a position.”
—Catalina Oyler (BA 2006, MSI 2008)
Visual Resources Technician
“I am in charge of the historic and restoration image collections [at the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust]. I process requests for images from outside sources, digitize the collection with the librarian/archivist, catalog restoration images, and work with the rest of the Collections Department to create programs for our two historic sites. Although my current job is more technical, I draw on my history background daily. The cognitive thought process I developed as a student is essential to understanding the contextual relationships of images, objects, and their connection to the broader history of the site. The ability to write and articulate your thoughts clearly are important as you convey ideas to the general public. I completed a master of public history directly after graduating from U-M. The post-graduate education and internships were instrumental in finding employment in the museum field. If there is a field in which you have an interest, find a way to get involved: volunteer, intern, accept an entry-level position. Often, the experience and connections you make will be the key to advancement.”
—Alum (BA 2006)
Government / Policy
Education Policy Analyst
Jennifer Trigger Marzullo (BA 2007) discovered her passion for community development through a summer internship with State Representative Steve Tobocman of Detroit. “I believe a strong education is the greatest tool for empowering a child to succeed in life, so I decided to become a teacher. I pursued my master of education at U-M (2008) and then taught high school in Chicago.”
Her experience in public policy, her interest in education reform, and her background in education, led her to a think tank, Michigan Future, as the education policy analyst, conducting education policy research and development. “My main tasks are collecting data, isolating critical information and identifying questions and new paths of investigation. The research and communication skills I developed while a history (and English) student are essential to my job. The ability to write well is the most significant skill to be successful in my job.” Jennifer found that internships, volunteering, and networking were critical to finding employment. She recommends that “the more experiences you can gain in college, the greater the number of opportunities via networking that will present themselves once you’ve graduated.” She suggests you look for organizations that match your interests to make the connections that will guide you towards the job that is the right match for you.
For Jennifer, the right path is to stay involved with education, whether it’s through policy work or as an educator. “My goal is to ensure all students have a quality education and learn the skills they need to be successful in the twenty-first century. I just wish change could happen faster than it does. We’re working on many exciting projects at the moment collaborating with existing schools in the Detroit and Metro Detroit area, helping new schools open and working on policy recommendations for the state level.”
Geospatial Intelligence Analyst
“I believe my background in history really helps in my position. I write intelligence reports for a living, basically. Though my writing is for military customers and is not academic in nature, I am used to the volume of research and writing from my BA in history. I originally learned about this job through a History Department posting that they had a representative at the fall job fair. All government jobs are posted on www.usajobs.com. If you intend to go into intelligence, try internships early on. Try to start your security clearance process really early, which helps down the road for attaining employment. If you’re serious about any field that requires a security clearance, make sure to keep a clean record and refrain from illegal substances (though this does not automatic disqualify you from employment, it really hinders your chances). Government jobs are great though, especially if you intend to attend graduate school. I am pursuing two master degrees free of charge. Though this may not be the case for all government positions, it is a benefit to working in the Department of Defense. Pay is pretty good, hours are 9-5, advancement in the workplace is high, and job security is one of the best (in my opinion).”
—Alum (BA 2004)
“I'm an international consultant with a focus on water issues. Specifically, I help organizations design programs and financing mechanisms to help address what's often called the global water crisis. I've worked with leading global development institutions and huge philanthropic organizations all the way down to tiny non-profit organizations and local governments, addressing water resources issues for agriculture and industrial use and how water and fecal sludge gets managed in low-income areas in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. I have an MPA in Energy Policy and Finance, and some might call me a water economist, but those are just tools I apply. My actual academic background is in history, and my skills were honed in the History Department, where we were challenged to consider a topic through multiple lenses and perspectives, and to pull on different threads to see where they lead. A lot of what I do is try to make sense of patterns in what's getting funded—how and why—against what might actually achieve the goals and outcomes we'd actually like to achieve—like fewer kids dying of diarrhea, less water pollution, or a reliable water service!"
—Rachel Cardone (BA 1996)
“After graduation I moved to Washington, DC, where I accepted 2 internships with members of the House of Representatives and eventually gained employment as a staffer. I handle domestic policy for my boss. I research pending legislation on the floor and come up with vote recommendations. I help my member draft his legislation. I meet with constituents and lobbyists and handle his staffing work for one of his committee assignments. I hope to continue doing this and become a legislative director for a member where I sit down with him / her and help craft their legislative priorities. To work on the Hill it is almost required to intern before having a paid staffing job. Internships are very competitive so being involved in a collegiate political organization is very helpful in obtaining an internship. Who you know out here can also be helpful. Getting a staffing job in Congress is extremely competitive.”
—Stephen Beck (BA 2004)
Elementary School Teacher
“As part of the Project Community course, I volunteered in the Detroit Public Schools and really found my passion for teaching. I also found many professors to be sincerely inspirational for me: Matt Lassiter and David Smith being the most notable. When I graduated from Michigan, I did Teach for America in Greenville, Mississippi, as part of the Mississippi Delta Corps. After my two-year commitment, I decided to stay in Greenville for an additional year teaching before searching for a new teaching position and ultimately deciding upon Austin [where I’m a fifth grade reading teacher and grade-level chair]. I found my time at Michigan to be instrumental to my growth professionally. I teach a unit on the civil rights movement that draws heavily from subjects learned at Michigan.”
—Katie Shapiro (BA 2005)
High School Teacher
“I recently graduated from the Secondary MAC program here at the University of Michigan where you get a Master of Arts in Education plus your secondary teaching certificate in one (incredibly busy) year. Teaching history classes—especially AP history classes—gives you the opportunity to play history professor five days a week. When you’re a high school teacher, you get to choose the primary sources and film clips that your students watch, decide how to frame a particular historical event, and come up with interesting questions and methods of explaining history to your students. Good history instruction involves a lot of research. You will probably be ‘studying’ and brushing up on your history every night of the week. It is not a 9-to-5 job ... it is more like a 5-a.m.-to-midnight job if you do it right. And remember, you will not be teaching history so much as you will be teaching STUDENTS. When you start teaching, you will find that it requires much more attention to classroom management and dealing with hormonally charged teenagers than attention to the subject matter. It sounds obvious, but make sure that you like working with kids before you go into teaching, and get some experience working with the age group before you start student teaching. A lot of people are fooled into believing that their love of history alone will make them a good teacher at a public school, but above all, you have to be confident and comfortable working with teenagers (many of whom have no inherent desire to learn history).
“Teaching is exhausting, difficult, and exhilarating ... but I know that I have found my niche after the most challenging year of my life in the Secondary MAC Program.”
—History Alum (BA 2009, MAC 2010)
International Admissions Counselor
“I advise international students who are abroad and wish to study in the United States, the international students who are in the United States, and those preparing to return home. I advise them on immigration and academic questions/concerns. I also do international recruiting, with my primary region being the Middle East. The skills needed to be successful are clear communication skills (both in person and written skills), organization skills, and an open mind. Generally people come from a [wide range] background of … degrees, but there are entry level data entry positions that allow people to get their ‘foot in the door.’ As long as you love what you do, you can do anything once you graduate. History is great in that it gives you a solid background in writing skills, as well as improves your analytical thought processes.”
—Alum (BA 2005)
Middle School Teacher
“The seventh-grade social studies curriculum in California covers the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in five different regions. Because the U-M history program requires sequences in Europe, America, and world cultures, I was well prepared to take on the task of teaching this demanding curriculum. At Michigan, I started working at the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, and like many of their docents, fell in love with education … this work was really influential in my career choices because I got to try so many different aspects of the history field: education, management, research, and exhibit design. In studying history, you will learn to understand the world in a much deeper way. But, it won’t mean anything if you don’t use that knowledge in your future. It’s important to think about how you want to make your knowledge marketable. What do you want people to pay you for? As much as it goes against our youthful idealism to think about earning a paycheck, the worst thing that could happen is for our knowledge of History to end up ‘collecting dust.’ My advice is learn to write, learn to teach, learn graphic design or film production, any skill let will let you get paid for sharing your knowledge of history.”
—Virginia McMunn (BA 2007)
Attorney (Corporate Services)
“My practice mainly consists of public finance and municipal law, serving as bond counsel and special counsel for municipalities and states. My interest in this field stems from my stints as a legislative assistant summer intern and a post-graduation legislative assistant for one of the members of the Detroit City Council. I often draw on my background in history and the skills I developed as a student. It is essential for a public finance attorney to know the financial, economic, legal, and political history of the client that they areserving in order to service the client effectively. Undergraduate students can be exposed to these fields by working in offices of entities that participate in public finance, including law firms, governments, financial advisors, underwriters, and other financial institutions.”
—James C.D. Wahls (BA 2003, JD 2006)
Attorney (Judicial Law Clerk)
“I assist my judge by performing in-depth legal research and drafting numerous decisions, memorandums and opinions. The amount of reading I had to do as a U-M history major prepared me well for the amount of reading I did both in law school and now, as an attorney. In addition, my research skills were honed as a U-M history major, and made the transition to legal research a breeze.”
—Erin P. Johnson (BA 2004)
“I draft legal opinions and advise an administrative law judge in deciding labor and employment-related cases. If you can forgo the income, find internships in your field of interest during the summers, even if unpaid or barely paid. If you can’t last an entire summer without income, try to volunteer a few hours a week on top of a paid job or during the school year. In either case, treat internships/volunteering like a paid job by working hard and presenting yourself as a serious and conscientious person. People will remember you and help you out down the road. Similarly, take at least two years off before grad school of any kind to travel and gain work experience that builds on your undergrad summer internships. Give yourself time to take some big risks while you can. They usually pay off in one way or another. If you want to go to law school, get certified and work for a year or two as a paralegal or legal assistant in the type of firm/organization that you’d want to end up at. You’ll get a sense of whether being a lawyer really is for you, save up some money, and have a leg-up on your first-year classmates if you do decide to go to law school.”
—Andrew Ziaja (BA 2003)