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L. Amber Brugnoli has been Assistant Dean for Career Services at West Virginia University College of Law for more than a year. She helps students in finding the right career path by expediting opportunities to network and learn about employers in numerous areas of the law, at all levels, in both the public and private sectors. Ms. Brugnoli also helps students explore nontraditional options by offering education concerning the value of a Juris Doctor outside the typical legal fields. Additionally, she engages in outreach and communication with alumni, employers, and potential employers to ensure that her students are graduating with the expertise and appropriate skills to succeed in their chosen careers.
Ms. Brugnoli grew up in Southern West Virginia. In 2001, she received a B.A. in both Political Science and Psychology from West Virginia University and she started law school that fall. Following graduation in 2004, Ms. Brugnoli entered the Air Force JAG Corps. While stationed overseas, she earned her Masters in International Relations from Troy University (2010). Upon her return to West Virginia, Ms. Brugnoli earned another Masters in Political Science in 2012. She combined her J.D. and Master's with some additional coursework towards a PhD in Public and International Policy. Ms. Brugnoli is currently "ABD," but she hopes to complete her doctorate within the year.
Prior to becoming Assistant Dean for Career Services, Ms. Brugnoli served the U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate Corps, 2004-2008 (Active Duty); 2008-Present (Reserves). She served as a Senior Program Coordinator for WELL at West Virginia University from 2009 to 2010 and was a litigation associate for Dinsmore & Shohl from 2011 to 2012. Ms. Brugnoli also served as a member of the adjunct faculty for the West Virginia University Department of Political Science and for the College of Law.
When she isn't working, Ms. Brugnoli enjoys jogging, reading, and traveling. She roots for the WVU Mountaineers! Ms. Brugnoli added, "It's my alma mater and my employer."
Successful Assistant Dean of Career Services
Why did Ms. Brugnoli decide to become a career counselor? "Though I love the law, I was not getting as excited about practicing as I had before. I also loved teaching and project management, so I started looking for administrative positions within higher education. I simply lucked out that this position came open at the right time."
What is the best part of her job? "Getting to make a difference in students' lives-I mean, where they end up working can determine their path in life."
What does Ms. Brugnoli have a knack for? "Implementing new programs and initiatives-I have a great follow-through mentality!"
How has the market affected students from obtaining positions they want? "Our market in WV has actually remained strong. My bigger challenges are convincing students what salaries they can actually 'live on,' and/or convincing them that living in another city or state might be a better option."
What does Ms. Brugnoli do to prepare students who are entering the workforce in a downward economy? "Again, our economy didn't really decline here, so often it's a matter of educating students that this is the case, rather than letting them use that as a 'crutch,' or as a reason to hold out for unrealistic expectations."
What advice would she give to students who are about to graduate and enter the workforce? "You have to have a plan, but you also have to be willing to adapt. Also, there is a HUGE difference between your dream job and the many first-jobs that can get you there."
What advice would Ms. Brugnoli give to a student who is struggling with their coursework? "Find out what the problem is. No interest in the subject? Disconnect with teaching style? Not putting in enough time? (It's usually the latter, so I ask the students to 'bill' their time for a week. They are usually shocked to see how little time they actually spend on class work.)
What advice does she give to a student who doesn't know what career path to take after he/she graduates? "Think about what interests you, and talk to people who do that for a living. There are probably more options that you think. I'm also a big believer in personality assessments/aptitude/strengths tests as a starting point. Also, money should be a secondary concern-measure success through other means."
As a college career counselor, what area of counseling is Ms. Brugnoli most passionate about? "Helping students explore options they may never have considered on their own, and teaching them that asking for help is not only okay, it's expected!"
If she were not a college career counselor, what would she most probably be doing? "Practicing law."
What motivates Ms. Brugnoli to be a college career counselor? "Knowing that by helping a student, you could be helping the world."
Non-profit Organizations, The Downside of Her Position and Ms. Brugnoli's Goals
Is Ms. Brugnoli involved with any non-profit organizations? "I am still a member of the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps Reserves, so that takes up a lot of my time."
Is there a downside to her position? "Helping students (or alumni) with unrealistic expectations, or who refuse to put in the work. I have to explain we are not a job placement office, but rather seek to help them identify their own opportunities and paths by helping them maximize their potential."
What are Ms. Brugnoli's professional and personal goals? "To continue to make a difference, and do meaningful work. I like to walk into rooms where people have 'heard of me' or my work, even if they've never met me."
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