Thursday, September 25, 2014

Featured Learner Series: Koyia Osby Utilizes Peirce Resources to Help Her Land Legal Assistant Position

At Peirce, we’re always thrilled to celebrate student successes. We enjoy bringing you their stories not only for the inspiration, but also for practical advice to students who may be pursuing similar career paths. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Koyia Osby, a Peirce student pursuing a Paralegal Certificate, to discuss her job search and the position she was recently hired for at Reed Smith LLP.

Below Koyia discusses her search for the job and how Peirce faculty and Career Development Services played a role in helping her to land her new job. She also gives advice for students at Peirce that can be applied regardless of what degree you’re pursuing.

What brought you to Peirce? I decided to attend Peirce because I was focused on changing careers. Previously, I worked all over the city in Social Services/Social Work. I began to feel stagnant and drained from working in that field for almost 10 years. I realized there was NO room to grow and I grew discouraged.

 What degree are you pursuing? I am pursuing a Paralegal Certificate. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Journalism.

Tell us about your position at Reed Smith LLP? I was hired as a Legal Assistant at Reed Smith. I obtained a $10,000 pay raise also. I was encouraged to look for employment at a law firm by a paralegal that I met while working for my previous employer. Prior to coming to Reed Smith, I had not had any law firm experience. The paralegal that I spoke to gave me tips and advice regarding entry level positions at a firm. She encouraged me to apply to legal assistant/secretary jobs and Paralegal even though I haven’t finished school yet. She suggested that I list the classes that I’ve already taken and add them to my resume. Dean Miller also gave me similar advice even after I completed his class. He made smart/practical suggestions to his students that have helped us along the way.

How did CDS help you obtain this position? CDS helped me obtain my position at Reed Smith by giving me the hands on attention that is needed when looking for employment. Ed Hill and Robin Dizes went above and beyond with helping me find a job in my new field by sending me job leads, connecting me to individuals in the field, initiating follow-up meetings with me to inquire about my job search and revamping/revising my resume completely so it reflects my Peirce course work. 

What’s the difference between a traditional resume and one tailored to the legal field?  Once I tailored my resume to the legal field and highlighted my course work, I began to get calls for interviews from several firms in the area.

How did Peirce help you prepare for your current position? Peirce helped me prepare for this position because the firm was extremely impressed with the education that I am receiving. During the interview I was able to describe what my course work entailed and how it applies to the position I was interviewing for. I also worked in the CDS office as a work study administrative assistant. That position helped prepare me to work as a Legal Assistant because I now support three different attorneys. I worked closely with Ed Hill, the Career Counselor, and assisted with the mock interviewing, resume preparation and discussions about career choices/employment.

How did Peirce help you prepare for a career as a paralegal? Peirce is preparing me by offering exceptional education that is taught by attorneys who have worked in the field. Each of my professors has been patient and thorough with explaining the course work making learning for me interesting and enjoyable.  It was extremely difficult to commit myself to school after being in the workforce for so long. Peirce made my transition easy. I felt supported by all departments whenever I had a question or concern for example, The IT department has fixed any problems that I’ve had with my personal laptop, the financial aid department assisted with my student aid questions, and CDS always makes sure each student is fully equipped for the work force before, during and after graduation.

What are your plans for after graduation? My future career plans are to segue into a Paralegal position once I’ve gotten more job experience here at Reed Smith. I have three classes left before I graduate.

What advice would you give to other students preparing for legal career? I would and I have given students advice about preparing for their career by telling them to utilize ALL of Peirce’s resources, network with everyone in your chosen field, build relationship not only with your professors but with the staff at Peirce because today’s society is all about who you know!

Congratulations Koyia! Thanks for sharing your story and advice with the community!