Each day, students at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville do their part to actively prepare themselves for their future. Gabrielle Reule, paralegal program chair, aims to not only equip her paralegal degree students with the skills necessary for success, but also helps guide them in the direction that will set them apart from others going into the field.
“As paralegal program chair, I have been asked many times to share my thoughts on what paralegal students need to do in order to ensure success in the legal field,” Gabrielle said. “I have narrowed my list to the following five items that should greatly increase the likelihood of a paralegal graduate finding their dream job.”
1. Network – It is not enough to simply attend classes and graduate. Like most careers, the paralegal field has become extremely competitive. Meeting other legal professionals can significantly increase the chances of finding a job. I recommend students join the Minnesota Paralegal Association (MPA). The MPA organizes networking events and sectional meetings for members to attend. Other suggestions are getting involved in their campus legal club, find networking events through their local Chamber of Commerce, and get to know other paralegal students and legal faculty.
2. Volunteer – Volunteering with legal organizations can be a huge benefit to a paralegal student’s success. It is a great resume booster, especially for those students who have not had any related experience. Volunteering is one of the best ways for students to gain legal experience while obtaining their degree.
Recently, six Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville paralegal students attended training on landlord-tenant law at William Mitchell College of Law to prepare themselves to volunteer for HOME Line, a nonprofit organization. Students will be spending time providing advice to tenants who are having rental issues. The MPA also provides a link to pro bono opportunities.
3. Intern – In my opinion, the most important portion of a paralegal student’s education is the 180-hour internship at the end of the program. Internships are an opportunity to gain hands-on training before entering a career. I encourage students to begin thinking about the internship early on. Networking and volunteering are great ways to locate potential internships. Students should work closely with their legal program chair to ensure they have an internship lined up. Some internships require students to apply several quarters prior to the start date, so planning ahead is crucial. Landing a good internship often leads to a job offer for many students.
4. Study – Working hard to achieve good grades can also significantly increase a student’s chance of getting their dream job. A high GPA is a reflection of hard work and dedication, and most employers see a direct correlation between high grades and success at the workplace. My advice is to turn assignments in on time and put 100 percent into all work.
5. Show up – When providing references, I have almost always been asked the question about the student’s attendance. Students who show up to class and show up on time are likely to do the same for a future employer. Perfect attendance on a resume will stand out to anyone reviewing it. Good attendance is also a reflection of reliability and dependability.
Gabrielle joined Minnesota School of Business in 2007 and currently serves as Paralegal Program Chair at both the Lakeville and Shakopee campuses.