Opportunities Are Here for the Law Student Interested in a Career in Politics
One of the reasons I chose Florida State University College of Law was because of our unique position as the only law school in Florida’s state capital. I have always known I wanted to work in politics in some capacity and felt that attending law school in Tallahassee, Florida, would give me a head start on my political career. Although it is possible to have a career in politics without a law degree, I knew that pursuing my legal education would help me stand out as one of the most qualified, well rounded applicants in the sea of college graduates that flood the government job market each year.
During the summer after my 1L year, I landed a job as a summer legal intern for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at their headquarters in Washington, D.C. At the DNC, I applied much of what I had learned during my first-year of law school in my everyday work. Legal Research and Writing prepared me to know where to gather pertinent information and how to draft effective policy memoranda. I used legal analysis skills developed in various first-year courses, especially Legislation and Regulation, while analyzing and writing about new policy proposals and the potential effects of policy changes. The focus I gained while sitting through all of my first year courses also served me well while attending briefings and committee meetings on Capitol Hill as well as committee hearings.
Upon returning to the College of Law for my 2L year, I knew that I wanted to continue gaining experience working in other areas of government. So, when I was notified by the College of Law’s Placement Office of an open law clerk position at the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, I applied, got the job, and began working on preparing litigation cases for the agency. While this position focused more on the legal side than the political side, it provided me direct exposure to administrative law and litigation, which is vitally important in government. Additionally, experience with this agency during and after a legislative session brought the legislative process full circle for me, as I experienced how an agency follows a piece of legislation, takes a piece of legislation directing a change, and actually implements that change.
If not for the College of Law’s proximity to the center of Florida state government and its natural relationship to politics and government in our nation’s capital, I would not have been able to supplement my legal education with such practical, real-world experiences. I have come to really appreciate the excellent staff in the Placement Office, as well as all of my professors who have encouraged me to pursue my dream of a career in Washington, D.C. I definitely believe I am well on the road to achieving that goal.
Externships: Designed to Take You Where You Want to Be
Florida State University College of Law has provided a wealth of resources for me in the planning of my future career. Even though my goal is to end up in Washington, DC, working on Capitol Hill, I have received a great deal of help identifying jobs, connections, and networking opportunities from the College of Law’s faculty and administration.
During my 2L year, I applied for several positions in Washington, DC, to work during the summer, but with the large number of law schools within a 100 miles radius, and others, like me, applying form all over the country, the competition for these positions appeared ominous. I then reviewed the list I had assembled of my own contacts and finally decided to speak with someone in the Externship Office about my options.
The variety of opportunities offered through the Externship Office was nothing short of remarkable. I remembered thinking about my initial thoughts as a 1L and how I had questioned why anyone would want an externship. Now, with all of the opportunities presented to me, I could definitely see just how effective an externship could be in obtaining legitimate job experience while also earning college credit. Not to mention the possibility of an externship potentially turning into a job opportunity after graduation.
The staff in the Externship Office works around the needs of the individual student and there is a range of 3-12 credit hours that can be earned each semester. If a student has an interest in something other than what is available, Externship Office staff will work to find an option or negotiate an opportunity that fits with what the student would like to do or accomplish. They will also work to identify opportunities in whatever geographic area a student prefers. Professor Sally Gertz and Ms. Lauren Manders worked with me on applying for opportunities in Washington, DC, and I was able to land a summer opportunity working as a clerk for a United States Senator.
The Externship Office at the College of Law is a resource that is preparing me for the real world. It is helping me establish connections, networking opportunities, and possibly, future employment opportunities. I feel like I have every opportunity in the world afforded to me…even when the ones I seek are over 800 miles away.