In February, the Law, Societies and Justice Program launched the LSJ Mentorship Program, which pairs local LSJ alumni with current LSJ students.
According to Professor Steve Herbert, director of LSJ, the purpose of the mentorship program was to help students strategize how they will pursue their careers after graduating.
“A liberal arts degree prepares students for a range of careers, which can be very empowering, but it can also be very frightening because there is not one clear path ahead,” Herbert said.
Although the LSJ faculty do a great job of helping students develop certain skills, Herbert said, the LSJ alumni mentors would have a degree of insight that faculty and staff might not have in regards to specific careers.
In the mentorship program application, students wrote about their career interests. Based on this information, student mentees were matched with LSJ alumni who are involved in similar lines of work.
Students were encouraged to initiate at least two in-person meetings with their mentors and arrive to these meetings prepared with career-focused questions about topics like graduate school, internships and networking tips.
Mallory Sullivan, who graduated in 2009, mentored two LSJ students.
Sullivan graduated from the UW School of Law in 2013. She is now a program supervisor at the Equity and Civil Rights Office at the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
After graduating from college, Sullivan said she sought out mentors to help inform her career decisions. She thought about going to law school but knew that she wanted to take time off.
Speaking with other people who had gone through the same decision-making processes helped her decide which programs to look into, and these conversations also helped her understand what a career in law could look like.
“Whether you are thinking of going to law school or another graduate program, it’s important to really think about what you would like to do with that degree,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan mentored Macy Disney, who will be a senior during the 2016-17 academic year. Disney said she applied for the mentorship program because she had many questions about law school.
“I would be the first lawyer in my family if I went to law school,” Disney said.
Disney said she had a positive experience working with Sullivan. The advice Sullivan provided about applying for law school and taking gap years proved invaluable.
Matt Huang, a LSJ student who will graduate next spring, was paired with Rob Saka, a technology transactions and privacy attorney at Perkins Coie, LLP. Saka graduated from the UW in 2009.
Through LSJ, Saka gained critical thinking skills, which helped him assess how certain decisions can affect broad cross sections of people in society. He said he continues to apply these skills to his work as an attorney and as a board member of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle. After graduating from the UW, Saka attended the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
Huang said Saka’s advice helped him evaluate the pros and cons of applying for law school after college.
“It’s really helpful to talk to an established professional and get their insight, and it’s not really a huge time commitment,” Huang said.
Speaking to Saka also taught Huang about the value of persistence.
“I used Rob’s advice, and then I finally was offered a position as a legal assistant,” said Huang, who now works at Chianglin Law Firm, PLLC, in Bellevue.
Saka added that he is honored to give back to the LSJ community and that mentors have been invaluable to his own professional and personal growth.
“Mentorship is tremendously important,” he said. “It’s great to have people in your corner who can direct you to the right resources.”
The LSJ Mentorship Program’s next application cycle will be open during fall quarter.
By Starla Sampaco | LSJ Communications Assistant