In an effort to transcend its reputation as a social organization, the Junior Class Council has launched a new series of pre-professional information panels designed to provide guidance to juniors.
Thursday’s panel on careers in law was the first in a chain of nine panels to be offered on Thursdays throughout the spring semester until April 28. The series is designed to provide juniors the opportunity to interact with alumni working in their fields of interest.
“[The panels] are to give students an honest and down-to-earth perspective from someone who has been at Yale and knows what it’s been like,” said Angela Ramirez ’12, president of the JCC.
The panel series results from Ramirez’s JCC presidential campaign at the beginning of the year. Ramirez said she promised to bring an academic focus to the JCC, which has traditionally thrown parties and other social events.
Ramirez said the panels are geared mainly towards juniors and seniors who are beginning to think about the job application process, adding that they are not intended for freshmen or sophomores.
In December, Ramirez said, she met with Stephen Blum ’74, a member of the Association of Yale Alumni’s board of directors, for help finding alumni speakers.
Blum said he received an outpouring of responses from interested Elis in a variety of fields. Blum said that while many volunteers had to be turned away since there is only time for nine or ten panels this semester, the JCC was able to find speakers in the diverse fields they proposed, including media and visual arts and the education sector.
“I think their inspiration was to find really interesting, niche-y career areas that would be hard to expose students to otherwise,” said Blum.
JCC Co-Treasurer Aly Kerr ’12 said the panels are an important tool for very ambitious Yalies.
“Most of our students are very motivated, driven people who want to do things and change the world,” Kerr said. “Where they start out is important.”
But Sabrina Karim ’11 said she does not see a need for another career-oriented program at Yale, adding, “Undergraduate Career Services is already starting college career conversations.”
Timothy Harkness ’87, a financial litigator who spoke at Thursday’s inaugural panel on law careers, said UCS doesn’t offer the same face-to-face interaction as the panel series.
Thursday’s event drew roughly 40 students, and featured a panel of both specialists and general litigators with experience ranging from patents to fashion companies.
“Law firms are not for everybody, and it’s okay if it’s not for you,” Harkness said during the discussion.
The other panelists echoed Harkness, focusing on advice outside of the profession itself. They urged students to take time off before going to law school and think about their legal and personal interests before pursing a career in law.
Panelist Yvonne Tran ’92, vice president and general counsel of software company Schrödinger, Inc., said the panel is a way for students to connect with the University and make career decisions. Still, she said, “they constitute just a piece of the diligence that I think anyone should be doing when thinking about a career.”
All four students interviewed at the panel said the event was helpful to them.
Students at the panel expressed positive reactions. Lisa Tran ’12 said hearing the panelists’ stories helped make a law career seem “more concrete in my mind.”
Jamile Kadre ’11 said she was on the fence about pursuing law before the event.
“I have been thinking of applying to law school and have been reconsidering it,” she said, “but this has made me realize that I think it is the right thing for me to do.”
Throughout the series, a group of ten juniors will attend dinners with the panelists based on the strength of statements of interest they submit early in the week before the scheduled panel. The next panel will be held Feb. 17 and will focus on education careers.