Colleges attended: Canisius College, B.A. English Lit./ Criminal Justice, 2011 & SUNY Buffalo Law School, J.D., 2015
Degrees earned: See Above
Current job/occupation: Counsel for the School Administrators Association of New York State (SAANYS)
Please describe your current job.
I am an in-house attorney for the New York State School Administrators’ Association, an organization representing school administrators and supervisors, comprised of hundreds of local unions throughout the state at school districts and SUNY colleges. My daily work entails traveling throughout the state, from the Hamptons to Buffalo, representing unionized employees in contractual negotiations/ interpretations (i.e. disputes), and disciplinary matters.I also field a myriad of questions ancillary to these two main items.My work involves continual practice of the Education, Labor, Employment, Civil Service, Human Rights, and Public Officer Laws.
In what ways did your education and internship/work experience prepare you for your current position?
As far as my formal education is concerned I learned reading, writing, and arithmetic, which are the pre-requisites for many fields. Now, what really prepared me for my current position are a series of jobs and internships I held while I was in law school in the field of labor law. I was able to make contacts in the relevant areas and speak with some knowledge to what I was doing (always helps in the job interview). Also critical was that I had tough teachers and bosses that pushed me in calculated ways to succeed and excel at what I was doing. As a result, I gradually built my skills and experience so that I could successfully operate in my position at a high level.
What challenges did you face when choosing a college or career path? How did you overcome these challenges?
Is it really a choice? I tried a lot of things some that I was bad at, i.e. mixed martial arts fighter (ended with a broken wrist) and I had to learn when to throw in the towel, but I also found things I was good at and liked, i.e. my current profession of work place conflict.
In choosing a college I chose the best option for me. My decision was based on the subject matter, affordability, and proximity to my family. I also had a good campus visit where my gut just told me to pick it. In this regard everyone is different - you have to both “know” and “feel” that it is the right choice for you. If you don’t, there will usually be regrets.
With the profession, we are always growing and changing. The two main threats that I see are self-doubt and distractibility. Everyone knows how to fight them, the harder thing is successfully doing it. Choosing the right career is an ever-evolving subject that we as humans must continually be aware of. Adapt and change or go extinct are words that never ring truer.
What advice would you give to students in the beginning stages of preparing for their futures?
Every gambler knows
That the secret to survivin'
Is knowin' what to throw away
And knowin' what to keep
It is critical to develop good mentors and maintain those relationships early and continually in your career. I’m a firm believer that success in life is a series of calculated risks. While some failure is inevitable, we need to be always moving forward. Your mentors will help you while you take those risks, advising you of items that are “obvious” to everyone but you.
Early in your career, the biggest thing you will need to do is focus on what you “want” and “think” you want to do, while also having the fortitude to pursue and try a myriad of different things. You need to let go when things clearly aren’t working and push hard when they are. As Austin Powers would say “You need to find your mojo, baby.” Doing this will help you settle into the field, or general area, where you can naturally be your best. While we certainly may not click in our first career or even second, we build skills, make contacts, and develop a reputation that we carry throughout our lives. It is critical they we continually grow in our endeavors.