Saturday, November 30, 2013

Unlocking the key to success in the paralegal field

Paralegals work with attorneys to prepare legal documents in law offices, government agencies, public interest organizations, or corporations. So a fundamental element of becoming a successful paralegal is being able to work well within this team environment and building connections with those in the field to obtain these positions. That is why we help our paralegal students build networking skills they can use to start and fuel their career.

One of the ways that we do that is with our Paralegal Student Association’s annual Paralegal Symposium and Networking Event, which brings students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members together to speak on the legal profession, the role of the paralegal, and issues that are impacting the field. This year’s event was held on Nov. 12, and keynoted by Robert Hrouda, the President of the National Federation of Paralegal Association (NFPA).

Robert is the first president from Philadelphia of this national organization, so it was a great honor that he came to speak with us about how he got his start. Robert, like many Peirce students, went back to college as a non-traditional student. He was not working in the legal profession, but thought the paralegal profession was a good fit given his interests and skills.

Friday, November 29, 2013

A journey through paralegal education

CAREER CHANGE: Nataly Nguyen
tells how she overcame the odds to find
her passion
It takes courage to change the path you’re on in life. But when someone decides to do what they really love, they often become happier, more confident individuals. We see this often in many students who attend Peirce. An example of such a student is Nataly Nguyen, who changed her career path three years ago from biochemistry to paralegal studies. She’s also the winner of the 2013 Thomson Reuters/NFPA Paralegal Student Scholarship. We wanted to share her story with you, in her own words.

Though I had always been interested in the way the legal system works, I didn’t know I would be progressing toward a legal profession until a few years ago. I was studying Biochemistry at Brandeis University and the University at Albany when financial hardships and family troubles disrupted my academic course.

At age 20, I realized that the first thing that I needed to do was to leave the abusive family situation I was in. This meant completely breaking away from my family and our unfortunate cultural and philosophical differences. (I grew up in Switzerland and America, immersed in Western values, while my parents follow a strictly patriarchal Southeastern Asian culture, which offers much less respect and support for women.)

Breaking away was a difficult, but necessary, step with serious consequences. Because my parents held my work documents, I could not obtain employment to support myself. Although my parents offered me no financial support, I was deemed “dependent” under federal student loan guidelines. Because my parents made a comfortable living, I only qualified for an unsubsidized federal student loan.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Peirce College students learn firsthand about career opportunities in counterterrorism

Becoming a police officer isn’t the only career path you can pursue with a criminal justice degree. Today you can use a background in criminal justice to work in many areas of the law enforcement field, including corrections, security, juvenile justice, and criminal investigation. One subset of the criminal investigation field that continues to grow is counterterrorism, a branch of law enforcement that focuses on helping stop and prevent crimes of terror.

Due to the growth of this area, we were pleased to welcome Sergeant Steve Iannone, Supervisor Detective Squad at the NYPD Counterterrorism Division, to the College on Nov. 19. Fifty-five students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members came out to hear his presentation on counterterrorism and how this field continues to grow.

Sgt. Iannone covered the campaign the Department of Homeland Security has established to help members of the public: If you see something, say something. This means if you see suspicious activity, report it to your local authorities.

It was great to hear this presentation from such a widely respected organization. Notable attendees were Tom Mitton from the Department of Homeland Security and Joe Sullivan of the Philadelphia Police Department, as well as the Philadelphia Police Department recruiting unit. Having the participation of these regional and national stakeholders is very important as our Criminal justice program continues to grow and raises awareness in the broader Philadelphia community. Many attendees got a chance to speak with law enforcement attendees and build their criminal justice networks.

Thanks to everyone who attended! If you missed it, we have another excited criminal justice event coming up. Azucena Ugarte, Director of Education & Training at Women Against Abuse, Inc., will be presenting on Dec. 12 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. She’ll cover domestic violence and resources in Philadelphia that can help someone in an abusive relationship. RVSP for the event by emailing me at

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why you can’t afford to take a holiday vacation from your job search

JOB SEARCH: Keeping up with your search over the
holidays, whether or not your classes are in session
The holidays are fast-approaching and it can be tempting to push off your job search in favor of parties, punch, and presents. But continuing your search during the holiday season can keep you ahead of those who put their job hunt on hiatus.

By getting your resume into the hands of employers over the break, you can ensure it’s in their inboxes the moment they return in January, a time when many employers have budgets to hire new employees. Here are four ways to keep your job search on track this holiday season.
  • ABN (Always be networking). The holidays are a great time to get in touch with contacts you’ve made. Try emailing with a seasonal greeting to kick off the conversation and then segue into current and future business opportunities. It can be as easy as “Hi Susan. I hope you and your family are having a happy holiday season! How are you doing? By the way, I’m still job searching should you know of any open positions or if you’d like to review my resume. Is there a time we could chat? Hope all is well!”

Monday, November 25, 2013

Featured Learner Series: Philadelphia mom sparks an educational movement in her community

INSPIRING OTHERS: Myrna Coleman (pictured in
green) poses with me, fellow Parent University
graduate Carla Bell, and InFocus
host Steve Highsmith.
Giving back has always been a part of Myrna Coleman’s life. From her job as a special education classroom assistant, to taking care of her family, to participating in her church and community, she’s always been happy to help others. But when she had the opportunity to earn her college degree by joining Parent University, it was her chance to help herself.

Parent University gave 25 parents of Philadelphia school children the chance to earn their associate degree through a partnership between Peirce College and the School District of Philadelphia. But for Myrna, the joy of education has always been a part of her life.

She has always enjoyed working with children, and dreamed of one day becoming a teacher. “I’ve been doing it my entire life,” Myrna said. “I would bring all the little kids from the neighborhood to my porch, read stories to them, and help them do basic math and learn their alphabets. I was acting as a teacher then.”

But health issues and family commitments stopped her from attending college after high school. Instead, she worked to become a special education classroom assistant for the School District of Philadelphia and began raising a family while living in southwest Philadelphia.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Catching up on Peirce College news

It’s been a busy few months for us at the College. We’ve shared exciting announcements, new partnerships, and advice for students and job seekers with members of Philadelphia and national media. We’re also sharing them with you if you missed them.

Year Up aids young adults with skills, experience. Reporter Wilford Shamlin of The Philadelphia Tribune covered our partnership with Year Up that provides urban young adults with the skills, experience, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education. He also featured two standout students in the program, Jeshaiah Nixon and Oshitay Isley, who have found their academic footing and are flourishing while in the program.

Philadelphia Business Journal’s People on the Move. The Philadelphia Business Journal included two new additions to our Board of Trustees, Tom Karinshak and Linnette W. Black, in its People on the Move section. Tom, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience for Comcast, brings business and customer service insight from one of Philadelphia’s largest employers to our Board. Linette, the former President/CEO of HealthRight, Inc., brings extensive healthcare knowledge and experience at a critical time in Philadelphia, as the industry continues to grow.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How you can help Philadelphians during the holidays

BLOOD DONATION: Past years have been successful
because of donors like you!
With the holiday season fast approaching, we’re turning our attention to launching another Peirce Season of Giving to support our Philadelphian friends and neighbors throughout the holidays. Peirce College has been organizing events to help families have food on the table and gifts under the tree for the past few years, and we are always impressed with how our students, alumni, faculty, and staff step up and give back to others. We want to take a few moments to share details about this year’s events and encourage you to participate.

Annual American Red Cross Blood Drive. Our annual blood drive event, co-hosted with the American Red Cross, will take place on Monday, Nov. 25 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. in rooms 51 and 52.

Donating blood takes about an hour of your time, but can be the difference in saving someone’s life. One donation can benefit up to three people, and more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day by hospitals, first responders, and other medical personnel, according to the American Red Cross.

Sign up for a time slot to donate. Walk-ins are also welcome as the schedule permits. For more resources about blood donation from the Red Cross, read their website for first-time donor information and eligibility requirements to donate.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Celebrating Peirce’s military past, present, and future on Veterans Day 2013

Peirce College was founded after the Civil War ended in 1865 to help Union military members prepare for civilian jobs. We’ve continued that rich tradition for 148 years by supporting military students and alumni in their higher education journey through scholarships, grants, career development support, and job placements after graduation.

We also employ a number of faculty and staff members whose job it is to support these military students. We’ve just strengthened that support by bringing Devon Vargason onto the team this session. She is the dedicated academic advisor for military students at Peirce College, ensuring that they stay on track, complete the correct requirements to continue receiving their benefits, and receive any other support they might need.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What professionals need to know about LinkedIn

LinkedIn isn’t just for job seekers. Every professional should be using this social networking site to organize and stay up-to-date with their professional contacts, engage in knowledge sharing, and cultivate their online reputation.

That was one of the core messages shared by Brian Wiggins, Audience Development Director of the Philadelphia Business Journal, during the “LinkedIn for Job Seekers” event he hosted at Peirce College recently. He shared tips during two different sessions on the do’s and don’ts of using LinkedIn, and had many actionable pieces of advice for attendees.

If you have questions about using LinkedIn, Brian provided some guidance just for Peirce Connections blog readers in a video interview:

After watching, feel free to scroll back through the pieces we’ve written about how and why to use LinkedIn. But if you still have questions, leave them in a comment below and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Meet recruiters that are hiring in Philly

BUILD A NETWORK: Speak with professionals
at our Job Fair on Nov. 15
Talking face-to-face with a potential employer is one of the best ways for job seekers to get noticed. Opportunities for these conversations don’t come often, which is why you should attend our Job Fair on Friday, Nov. 15 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in rooms 51 and 52, where over 35 employers will be available to speak with job seekers like you!

This event is open to all Peirce students and alumni who want to explore new internships, part-time, or full-time opportunities in the Philadelphia area. Participating employers include

Business attire is recommended for attendees, as some companies may do on-the-spot interviews and you should be ready to show them why you are right for their open position. But if you feel you need to brush up your professional skillset, you’re in luck. We’re offering two workshops before the Fair to help students and alumni prepare their elevator speech, perfect their resume, and project a professional image during the event.