Tamesha L. Keel: Assistant Dean, Career Services for Penn State University-Dickinson Law
by Amie Peterson
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Tamesha L. Keel has been involved in legal career counseling for over eight years. As the Assistant Dean for Career Services at Penn State University-Dickinson Law, she co-manages all aspects of the career services office to meet the professional development needs of law students and alumni. Ms. Keel is a member of the Florida and New York State Bar Associations. In addition to providing leadership for the career services office, Tamesha leads a team of professionals and works collaboratively with faculty, law school, and university administration.
Ms. Keel has previously held many legal positions including working as an associate and chief judicial law clerk. After practicing law for several years, Ms. Keel transitioned into a career as a law school administrator. Although this career move was unplanned, it resulted from relationships cultivated as an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice's Attorney General Honors Program. In this role, she assisted with the program's recruitment efforts that allowed her to work with local law school career services offices. After her judicial clerkship ended, an immediate opportunity to work in career services arose. It was a natural transition for her because she always assisted others with their professional development.
Tamesha's most memorable school experiences are receiving her undergraduate and law school diplomas, along with the joy of having her parents attend both ceremonies. Those two moments have solidified the notion that anything is possible through hard work.
Ms. Keel was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received a B.A. in Psychology and a J.D. both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
When she is not working, she enjoys being involved in the community, making raw desserts, and relaxing. She also enjoys watching sports. Her favorite sports teams are the Knicks, Miami Heat, New England Patriots, NY Giants, NY Jets, and the Dallas Cowboys.
Assistant Dean, Career Services
What is the best part of Ms. Keel's job? "The best part of my job is empowering students and professionals to realize their career development goals."
What does she have a knack for? "I am creative and solutions oriented, which are traits that are universally helpful."
What area of career services is she most passionate about? "I am passionate about what I do and the opportunity to make a difference in others' lives and professional development. I also enjoy assisting students and attorneys with their professional development."
How has the market affected students from obtaining positions they want? "The changes in the legal market have no doubt provided a host of challenges. These challenges require students to be extremely diligent in making strategic decisions concerning their legal education and professional development."
What does Ms. Keel do to prepare students who are entering the workforce in a downward economy? "At Penn State's Dickinson Law, we have proactively made changes to our curriculum to ensure that we can support our students and their career goals, weaving experiential learning throughout the three years of study to help students graduate practice-ready. Our graduates will be highly employable because of the foundations in doctrinal and practical learning. Since we are limiting our entering classes to just 75 students, we can fulfill the obligation we have to our students to support job placement in this highly challenging market."
What advice would Ms. Keel give to a student who is struggling with their coursework? "First, I would reassure the student and encourage him/her to speak with the professor(s) as soon as possible. I would also advise the student to take advantage of the available resources in academic and student services. Generally, resources and support are available. However, many students do not take advantage of these invaluable services due to lack of awareness or perceived stigmas. Regardless, it is important for the student to know that the support and tools needed to succeed academically are available."
What advice does she give to a student who doesn't know what career path to take after he/she graduates? "I am huge advocate of preparation and research beforehand, especially when it comes to career development. While it is understandable to begin college or graduate school not knowing the exact career path, it is imperative to begin ascertaining one's professional likes and dislikes in order to focus on a career goal. Thus, I try to reiterate the importance of early preparation in order to be competitive. For those still having a hard time deciding on a career path after graduation, I would work with them to devise a job search plan that enables them to find employment and cultivate the requisite skills needed to advance professionally."
Where does Ms. Keel see herself in five years time? "Just what I am doing now, striving to be a change catalyst."
If she were not a law school career counselor, what would she most probably be doing? "I can think of a number of things, including an entrepreneur, Peace Corps participant, life coach, chef, lecturer, or pediatrician."
Nonprofit Organizations, The Downside of Her Position and Ms. Keel's Goals
Is Ms. Keel involved with any nonprofit organizations? "I am involved in the local community through professional, religious, and civic associations. Currently, I am active in the National Association for Law Placement as well as the Florida Bar."
Is there a downside to her position? "Although nothing is perfect, I try to focus on and maximize the positives."
What are Ms. Keel's professional and personal goals? "To continue to learn and grow in both areas and being better today than I was yesterday."
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