Born to an engineer-minded father, my initial career path was to become a chemical engineer.
I later announced my declared major was Political Science – and so began the parental discussion about “profitable” skills. It was this debate that led me to reorganize my career goals to enter law, a journey that eventually gained employment with one of the most successful corporations in the world, Google.
When I began to evaluate opportunities, I realized that I wanted to find a way to balance a combination of my interests and strengths with a valuable skillset that would position me to pursue quality work.
After taking legal courses as part of my political science degree with UC San Diego, I decided that law was best. I looked for entry level employment and started at a specialty firm engaged exclusively in immigration law. I did not have experience and I knew I had to start somewhere and worked as a part-time file clerk.
In just a few short weeks, I was hooked and wanted to learn more about the legal profession. I applied to the American Bar Association approved UC San Diego Extension part-time paralegal certificate program. It was this opportunity that opened up my eyes to the entire world of law and where I gained insight into its various areas of opportunity.
The program taught processes that I was not able to learn at my entry level position. The practical instruction format was different from theoretical political science courses and I quickly realized how beneficial “real-world” skills would be for future jobs.
Through an internship connection provided by Extension, I was able to work at the district attorney’s office in its Lifer Unit. I was able to see criminal law in action, which to someone who grew up watching “Law & Order,” was amazing.
I felt confident that I had gained the “profitable” and “practical” skills that my father warned me about. The paralegal program gave me the balance I desired and connected me to phenomenal opportunities necessary for a successful career in law.
As I approached the completion of my bachelor’s degree and paralegal certificate, I applied to several jobs and landed my first one with Qualcomm as legal support for its litigation department. Throughout nearly four years of employment with Qualcomm, I learned e-Discovery tools, procedures and industry standards.
In order to further connect to litigation technologies and the future of law, I reached out to Google and was soon hired as a litigation paralegal. During this exciting time, Google had started innovations to set up an in-house Discovery machine, the same time its technical product development experienced major growth.
Working at Google is a blast. I have learned a lot, including how to independently manage various cases while improving investigative and organizational paralegal skills. My advice for others seeking success is to look at more than what you do daily and instead, learn how the entire system works around you and try to discover better ways to improve them.
Betsy Freeman | Litigation Paralegal, Google | firstname.lastname@example.org