Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why I am Back in School

So I haven't been posting a lot this year because I am back in school. It's keeping me really busy. (And I thought this would be FUN?!....okay...it kinda is.)

Today I wanted to share a paper that I wrote for one of my classes explaining why I am in school. The assignment was to introduce ourselves to our professor (it's still weird not saying "Brother So 'n' So"...). He said that the evening classes always have such an interesting and diverse group and he wanted to know about us and why we were there, since most students are older and usually already working.

Below is the paper I wrote.


As far back as the age of three, I can remember knowing, without a doubt, what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a scientist. I wanted my own microscope and wear a lab coat. Yes, I was a nerdy three year old.
As I grew up on the outskirts of Loomis, I loved to study the plants and animals on the farm where I was raised. I took every class I could in school that was science based. In junior high I had a teacher that introduced me to cell biology and genetics and I was hooked. There was never anything else that even remotely interested me.
In college, I pursued a biology degree emphasizing in micro and cellular biology, with a minor in Psychology. I wanted to go into Alzheimer’s’ Disease research. I loved the classes and the science. I loved my university: Brigham Young University-Idaho. The winters were bitter cold and wonderful—the summers were simply magical. Going to school on the cuff of the Yellowstone Caldera was the perfect place to study the many wonders of nature.
I graduated in August, 2006 with my bachelor’s degree. The plans that I had made to move to Salt Lake City, work at a university there, and take the world by storm did not work out. Not knowing where else to go, I moved back to my childhood home and struggled to find a job—any job.
I applied for and had several interviews with a pharmaceutical company on the East Coast. It was an excellent job with many research opportunities and new experiences. I was excited for it. I had never even been to the East Coast and wanted to move there. I was told that I had nailed the interviews and had an excellent chance being included in the training program. Several weeks later I called to follow up and learned that they were not interested in hiring someone from California. It was devastating.
Eventually I found two part-time retail jobs that I despised. I had a college degree and year after graduation I still hadn’t found a real, “grown-up” job. Then a phone call came week later. A friend of my mom’s and our neighbor growing up called me and offered me a position as a legal assistant at his law firm. I literally did not know anything about law. I did not think I would be interested and I didn’t want to give up my dream of being a cell biologist. After considering his offer, I thanked him for the opportunity and declined.
A couple of weeks later the family friend called back and offered me a position as the receptionist. I asked for time to consider it. He gave me 24 hours. I struggled with the decision—I knew that if I took the job I would be giving up my dream of being a biologist. But, I felt trapped in my current jobs and had just quit one the night before. I set aside my dream and accepted the receptionist job.
Ten days after I started, my new boss transferred me to the position I am in now (fortunately different than the one originally offered), the Legal Assistant for the Workers’ Compensation department. To say it was a difficult transition would be a gross understatement. There was not really anyone to train me or tell me how to do my job. At the end of each day for at least the first month I almost quit. The assistant before me had left everything in a terrible mess and there was 3 months of filing that had not been filed for over 350 open cases. It was overwhelming.
Eventually things were straightened out and I slowly figured out what different words meant. I learned how the complicated workers’ compensation system works. I learned how to manage the many difficult clients. I learned how to get what my clients needed and wanted from adjusters. I learned how to be a workers’ compensation assistant. I learned, surprisingly, that I enjoy learning how the law works and applies. And I learned that I would like to work in a different field of law.
My firm does other types of law too. In my particular office we do Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation, Social Security, and bit of Medical Malpractice. I’m intrigued by the cases the other assistants are working on. I find it fascinating and engaging. Every day brings new challenges.
And so, here I am, opening up my options so I can look for other opportunities to work as a paralegal. After five and half years, I feel like I’ve hit a plateau. I’ve progressed as far as I can in my position and in my company. I feel like I need to be trained how to properly be a paralegal and learn about other fields of law. To find one that I enjoy.
I’m ready, and excited, for a new challenge.