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Image by Claire Anderson, unsplash.com

Image by Claire Anderson, unsplash.com

If you’re seeking a new career in a field that is both rewarding and well-paying, you may want to ask yourself, “What is a paralegal degree for, and what kind of future can I get with one?” Being a paralegal can be a great career option that gets you started early, lets you continue your studies, and grants you entry into the field of law. Let’s look at four reasons why it makes sense to pursue a paralegal degree.

It Earns a Good Salary
As a paralegal, you have a chance to enter a profession where you can earn a good salary. Although pay depends on your experience, location and the kind of firm that employs you, the median pay for paralegals in 2015 was more than $48,000 per year or about $23 per hour. Experienced paralegals and those who work for large law firms can earn more than $70,000 per year.

It’s a Good Preparation for Law School
Law school is expensive and requires a great deal of time and study. Starting off as a paralegal gives you a good foundation in the subjects you’ll be studying in law school. This will give you an advantage over students with no background in law. As a paralegal, your income will make it easier to afford law school. Getting your paralegal degree is an excellent way to prepare for a career as a lawyer.

A Wide Choice of Degree Programs
There are now many different ways to earn a paralegal degree, and programs are offered by many colleges and universities. If you’re a busy professional, a good option is to earn your degree online. A master’s in paralegal studies online, for example, gives you more than enough qualifications to have a long and lucrative career. When studying for your degree, you can also choose whether to study part time or full time.

You Can Choose Your Work Environment
Paralegals, more than most professions, have a wide range of choices for employment. Law firms all over the country, both large and small, employ paralegals. You can also work for government agencies, banks, insurance companies and in the legal department of a corporation in almost any industry. Paralegals can even choose to be self-employed, which is good if you prefer to be a freelancer or work part time.

A paralegal degree makes it possible to pursue a new and rewarding career. Whether you study part or full time, online or offline, this is a career path worth considering if you have an interest in law. It’s best to research many paralegal degree programs and find one that matches your goals.

This article was contributed by guest author Anica Oaks.

Image by CJ on Flickr

Image by CJ on Flickr

As a university student, you will often find yourself doing a lot of soul searching. I know it sounds cliché, but take it from someone who has been there – it’s completely, one hundred percent true. If your only experience with such deep meaningful moments is from watching teen dramas, be prepared for a shock. These “experiences” are not going to give you the answers you’re looking for; in fact, they usually just leave you with more questions. Your soul searching starts with the big picture stuff: Who am I? What am I doing here? What do I want out of life? and usually then devolves into something along the lines of: Should I order food? Can I take a Netflix break? Both? Yes, both is good.

Once again you are content with life. You don’t know if it is the mild food coma or the comedy you have decided to binge watch, but sometimes it is better not to question the universe. That is until your half hour study break has become a three hour marathon. Then comes the panic. You know what you’re doing is wrong, but you can’t stop. Another episode goes by. Panic gives way to shame and self-doubt. I’m just not cut out for this. It’s 2 am. I should just go to sleep. The books lie there, taunting you. I hate (insert subject here). Have you ever considered that maybe this isn’t your fault? Maybe you aren’t a terrible student. Maybe you’re just in the wrong major.

Does this story sound a little too familiar to you? Then it’s either time for a change of academic focus or an intervention for your Netflix addiction. How do you tell the difference? Well if this downward spiral is really due to your lack of interest in the subject matter you’re studying, you are probably also doing most of the following:

  1. Skipping class. Sleeping in or missing lectures to do other work doesn’t count. I’m referring to the “I literally can’t remember the last time I went” kind of skipping, which only means one thing: you are not interested.
  2. Having trouble staying on task. You find yourself easily distracted when you sit down to study. Your Facebook account is always one tab away. Your cell phone is in your hand. Your jammed stapler is suddenly fascinating (before and after you have taken the time to unjam it).
  3. Searching for the motivation you used to have. The work ethic you had in high school seems almost superhuman. Now just the thought of doing anything class-related is exhausting. You usually take a nap instead.
  4. Anything but your readings. If you haven’t opened the textbook you nearly bankrupted yourself to buy, your prognosis for the rest of the semester is not looking good. Yes, some students pride themselves on acing classes based on lecture notes alone. But if this is really something you are passionate about (which it should be) you will want to read more about it whether the material is testable or not.
  5. Procrastinating. While I have yet to meet a student who has never put anything off until later, it is not the act itself that should raise red flags but the reason behind it. Pulling an all-nighter to finish the paper you had no time to start until the last minute because of all of your other obligations is the norm. However, purposefully doing anything else to avoid working on your assignments until is almost impossible for you to complete them on time might be a sign that this discipline is not for you.
  6. Enjoying your electives more than your required courses. These are the lectures you show up for every single week. Not only are you actually prepared and engaged but you leave looking forward to the next class. Take a step back and you will probably see that most of the classes you choose to take of your own free will fall under a certain branch of academics. Maybe this is what you should actually be getting a degree in.
  7. Letting your grades slip (and surprisingly not caring). You are intelligent. You have made this far in the education system and you are so close to having something to show for it. Don’t sacrifice your GPA because you could care less. Trust me; there are enough challenging courses that will be more than willing to drag it down for you (even when you are studying something you love).
  8. Avoiding opportunities you should be pursuing. Contrary to how it might appear, most universities actually want you to be employable. They benefit if you get hired and excel. This creates an incentive for them to provide avenues for their students to gain real work experience. However, it is still up to you to make the most of these opportunities. Being reluctant to search them out and apply is often the first sign that you are not serious about your future as a (insert subject here) major.

Image by USAJFKSWCS on Flickr

Image by USAJFKSWCS on Flickr

At a time when fresh questions about the value of a bachelor’s degree seem to come up daily, master’s degrees are growing more attractive. If you’re on the fence about going further in education, consider these ways a master’s degree can make you a more attractive job candidate.

It Shows You’re Committed to Excellence

Only about 10 percent of people in the United States hold a master’s degree in any field. Most professionals simply do not make the commitment to achieve one. Stepping into that category shows you have tenacity and a focus on growth that many others do not have.

It Signals You Have “Fresh” Skills

Master’s degrees don’t typically take as long to complete as bachelor’s degrees. In fact, many of these advanced degrees can be completed in about two years. Once you graduate, you will be able to bank on your cutting-edge view of your field as a compelling reason to hire you.

It Means You Won’t Switch Fields

If you get a master’s degree in the field you’re already practicing in, it shows you are not planning to change direction any time soon. For example, enrolling in a LL.M. program online shows that you are dedicated to the field of law. This tells potential employers you are low-risk, so they can invest more in training you and incorporating your skills into a team on the long term.

It Gives You Valuable Specialization

Master’s degrees tend to be highly specialized, giving you the knowledge you need to fill an important niche. For example, cyber-security is an increasingly indispensable niche skill in IT, but a truly deep view of the field requires a master’s degree. No matter the industry, these specialized roles tend to be vital and difficult to fill. That could make you a hot commodity.

It Creates a Leadership Trajectory

Candidates who have the potential to train and lead others are more attractive than those whose perspective is narrow. By obtaining a master’s degree, you not only gain skills and knowledge as a solo contributor, but also cultivate the perspective to enlighten others on your area of expertise.

Getting a master’s degree is one of the most powerful ways to upgrade your skills in a tough economy. Master’s degree graduates are eligible for some of the best jobs and easily find themselves on the preferred list when a master’s degree is not a strict requirement.

This article was contributed by guest author Anita Ginsburg.

Image by bpsusf, Flickr

Image by bpsusf, Flickr

In my first two years of university, I was set on finding a job in human resources after graduating. I attended information sessions and noticed that the majority of company representatives there were in HR. I could see myself doing this; touring schools and talking to students about what the company does, interviewing them and deciding who would be a good candidate for our company. Yes. For someone who liked talking to people, teaching people, and giving presentations, it seemed perfect.

Then two things happened:

Thing 1: “You can’t do that right out of university”
I eagerly attended information sessions and job fairs to enquire about any vacancies in the HR department – after all, every company needs HR. With this in mind, I assumed there would be plenty. I talked to accounting firms, who gave me looks like they were thinking, “We’re an accounting firm. We’re hiring accountants…”

No one was hiring for HR. One rep was nice enough to explain to me that their company didn’t hire students to work in HR; they preferred to post internally for those jobs to hire people who’ve worked in the firm and know the company from the inside. Their advice? Get a job in another field first, and move to HR afterwards. Oh. Ok.

Thing 2: The Interview
On a conference executive committee in my fourth year, I met an HR rep from our major sponsor. By this time, I had switched my focus from HR to marketing. From the meetings he attended and recommendations from my peers, he knew I was a hard worker and that I was still on the job hunt, so he brought me in for an interview. He asked what field I wanted a job in, to which I replied, “Marketing.” He said, “We unfortunately don’t have any marketing positions available, but there is an open HR position.” Ok – that was my second choice, and I wasn’t going to be picky about a job prospect. Let’s hear it.

When he explained the job to me, it was not at all what I thought HR would consist of – or at least not the “kind” of HR I wanted.

I’d be posted in a factory, working with 20-30 middle-aged men. They would likely approach me with family issues, illnesses, general complaints, or ask for advances on their salaries. He asked if it’s something I thought I could handle, to which I said, “Yes, of course.” Inside, I squirmed and thought, “But I don’t want to.”

Suffice it to say, and to my relief, he didn’t offer the job to me – we both knew I wouldn’t be a good fit. As stressful as it was, I held out until I could find a job that more closely fit what I wanted. I learned to thoroughly research a position before assuming it’s what I wanted to do. It turns out HR wasn’t right for me after all.

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Check out Jenny Lugar’s post on Maclean’s On Campus: How Traveling After Graduation Helped My Career