As former Secretary of State retired Gen. Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.”
Oct. 24, The University of Tennessee’s Center for Career Development hosted Career Conversations: Government, Law and Politics. The panel featured three local professionals who followed varying paths related to government and law after college. Just as careers vary, the success’s meaning varies from person to person. However, each panel member agreed on one key factor: Students must start their journey to success during their college years.
Caitlin Elledge received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and her law degree from Georgetown University. She now practices as an attorney for Sobieski, Messer & Elledge, PLLC. Elledge says specialization remains essential to stand out to employers.
“When you’re in a competitive market, you have to set yourself apart from all of the other people with very similar resumes to yours,” Elledge said. “One of the ways to do that is showing a demonstrated interest. So you take the courses, have an internship and pursue that specific path so you can show an employer that you are not just applying for random jobs, but you’ve put in the work to get this job.”
The Career Conversations panel also featured UT graduates Patricia Robledo and George Shields.
Robledo attended UT as an undergraduate international student. She now works as the business liaison for the City of Knoxville. Shields graduated from the College of Law in 2014 and now works as an attorney for Legal Aid of Tennessee, a nonprofit law firm.
Shields agrees students should jump-start their careers by specialization, adding that passion and commitment also ease transitions to the workforce.
“Specialization marks you as someone who is really committed and devoted,” Shields said. “You will have an easier time if you feel comfortable enough to specialize and stick with it. If you know a specific area that you’re passionate about, don’t doubt yourself. You should stick to that and follow it through.”
Career consultant Simone Stewart hopes the event taught students how to break into their industries.
“What we hope for all of our career conversations is that students come away with three different career paths to pursue in their major,” Stewart said. “We also hope students will consider ways to gain experience to enter into their field and learn how to make those connections early on.”
The next event of the series will be Career Conversations: Law Enforcement and Forensics on Nov. 4.
Story by Addie Morton
Featured image by Addie Morton
Edited by Vanessa Rodriguez