As the summer comes to an end, we asked several W&L Law students to reflect on their non-traditional summer work experiences. A law degree can lead to a multitude of professional opportunities – here are just a few.
Jenna Callahan is a rising 2L at Washington and Lee University School of Law. Originally from Summit, New Jersey, Jenna earned a degree in Social and Behavioral Sciences and Environmental Sciences at Soka University of America in Aliso Viejo, California.
Your passion and your career can be one and the same.
The 1L summer internship application process can seem intimidating. In the frenzy of deciding where to apply and how to make one’s resume look as polished as possible, the natural reaction for any student is to look to others for advice. During these moments, however, I was afraid to open up about my career choice because I felt I was taking a daring leap by applying for a non-traditional position. I secretly wanted to become an Executive Director or General Manager for a sports team, and I was strategizing how to get there.
Rewinding back to 2011, I was ecstatic to be accepted into Washington and Lee’s 2015L class. I had always wanted to attend law school based on various past experiences such as studying human rights in Guatemala. After I submitted my deposit, however, I had a life-changing experience. I took on a position for the 2011/2012 season as the Head Junior Varsity Softball Coach for Irvine High School in Irvine, CA. Immediately I realized that this position was something I could really pour my heart into and be proud of. I had the opportunity to mentor young people and dedicate my time to my life-long passion of athletics.
After the season came to an end, I had to re-evaluate my decision to attend law school. I decided working in sports management would be my ideal career choice. After receiving advice, I learned that any successful GM or Executive Director carries a vast array of skills, including the ability to read, understand, and negotiate contracts. Attending Washington and Lee has been a wonderful avenue for achieving my goals. Both of the required 1L writing courses improved my writing and research abilities, I learned about the importance of providing evidence to an argument, and I began to understand a vast array of subjects from torts to criminal liability. By the end of the first semester, I also felt comfortable reading and evaluating contracts.
Towards the end of our 1L year, I saw my friends receiving summer internship offers to work for judges, law firms, and corporations. I began to worry that I had taken a risk by applying for positions with agencies, MLB teams, and other sports organizations. In April, however, I received the news I had been waiting for. I was a final candidate for a position in Ballpark Operations with the San Francisco Giants as well as in Event Management with Amateur Softball Association/USA Softball. A few days later I received a phone call from Oklahoma City, OK, offering me a position to begin in less than a month with ASA/USA Softball. I jumped at the opportunity, and before I knew it I was driving cross-country to begin pursuing the career that I had always dreamed of.
My summer here in Oklahoma City has been full of excitement. I have spent up to 80+ hours some weeks working at the Hall of Fame Stadium, home of the nation’s best softball and National Headquarters of ASA/USA Softball. I was told I was selected because of my high level of education and critical thinking skills acquired during law school. My legal background continually came into play including when I was asked to revise the ASA Code and Procedural Manual. Besides being challenged to utilize and strengthen my legal skills, I was also taught how to do tournament bracketing, run sound control and video boards, and was exposed to the contracts and financial dealings of stadium concessions. I was introduced to NCAA officials and ASA Commissioners from all over the country. I successfully helped coordinate and execute the NCAA Women’s College World Series and the World Cup. I could not believe that I was able to contribute in a positive way to events that were being played on ESPN.
I know that my legal education from Washington and Lee University School of Law is what gave me the competitive edge I needed to receive such a wonderful internship for my 1L summer. This experience has opened the floodgate for many other opportunities that have since come my way, including attending the MLB Diversity Summit in Houston, TX. Many MLB team representatives at the conference were impressed by my education and experience, and I was offered several contacts with MLB legal counsel, an internship position, as well as a long-term job offer with a Minor League Baseball team.
In the past year, I have learned that nothing is more important in this world than being true to yourself. Law school does not destine one to a single career path. Being taught to critically think is an invaluable skill for any professional and not just one tailor-made for the traditional lawyer. The faculty and staff at Washington and Lee want to see their students succeed and find happiness in their careers, and I am so appreciative for the intimate environment our school maintains. Several of my first-year professors, such as Professor Wiant and Professor Seaman, as well as Lorri Olan and Andrea Hilton in career services, always reminded me to follow my heart. I encourage any individual questioning whether law school is right for him or her to research the less traditional outlets a law school education may provide. I know that I am on the right track to becoming a successful sports manager and I cannot wait to attack my 2L year head on!