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Victoria Dickinson has been a career counselor at the Massachusetts School of Law for less than one year. She was born and raised in Dracut, MA. Victoria graduated with a B.A. in English from UMass Boston in 2006. She wanted to pursue a teaching career. However, Victoria's mother, an attorney and law professor, persuaded her daughter to attend law school. Although Victoria wasn't sure if law school would be the right fit when she started her first semester at Massachusetts School of Law, she loved taking courses and the analytic process that goes into studying law. She earned her J.D. from Massachusetts School of Law in 2009 as Valedictorian.
Successful Career Counselor
When and why did Victoria decide to become a career counselor? She claimed:
"After graduating from law school, I began working for a small firm on a contract basis. However, I still wanted to pursue a career in education. I decided to combine my law degree with my passion for education and started teaching at a paralegal school while I practiced law on the side. After teaching at the paralegal school for a while, I then had the opportunity to teach in the writing program at Massachusetts School of Law.
For the past three years, I have been splitting my time between law practice and teaching legal writing. As a writing instructor, many students would also come to me for help with their resumes and cover letters. And I would often find myself counseling these students as they searched for internships and eventually for jobs. So when the opportunity presented itself for me to transition into the Career Services Office at Massachusetts School of Law, I was very excited to take it."
What is the best part of her job? "I most enjoy being able to sit and talk with students and alumni about their career goals and experiences. Our students and alumni are so diverse, I am always learning something new."
What does Victoria do to prepare students who are entering the workforce in a downward economy? She replied:
"We encourage students to begin their job preparation early in their law school careers. Students may (and are encouraged to) participate in internships for class credit. Our internship program matches students with attorneys based on preferred area of practice. During these internships, students learn valuable skills that will make their resume more appealing to future employers. Sometimes these internships turn in to paying positions. We also have a judicial internship program, where students have the amazing opportunity to intern with a District court or Superior Court Judge. Students learn the ins and outs of how a courtroom runs.
We also have a Mentor Program where we match students and recent graduates with alumni. We match them based on area of practice and geographic location. The alum mentor helps to guide the student or the recent graduate into his/her new career."
What advice would she give to students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce? "Network. People are your greatest asset. You have to be confident yet humble in how you approach others. Approach others with sincerity and willingness to learn."
When asked what advice she would give to a student who is struggling with their coursework, Victoria asserted:
"Seek out help. It is surprising how many students will struggle in silence. At Massachusetts School of Law we have an awesome Academic Support Center, yet students still need encouragement to go and use these services. Whenever I see a student struggling, I remind the student that everyone in this building wants him/her to succeed. You can't be afraid to ask for help. You are not supposed to have all the answers. You just need to know where to look to find the answers."
What advice does Victoria give to a student who doesn't know what career path to take after he/she graduates? "I suggest that the graduate get matched with an alum mentor. I would ask the graduate what classes he/she most enjoyed while at school, and match the graduate with an alumnus who practices in that area. Hopefully by speaking with someone in the field, the graduate could figure out if that is the right path."