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A Passion for Law and Public Service

March 4, 2013

Leah PotashToday’s guest post comes from Leah Potash, Honors Paralegal at Federal Trade Commission and a 2010-2011 Volunteer Maryland AmeriCorps Alum.

The FTC is currently interested in reviewing applications until March 6th from ambitious, public service-oriented graduating seniors for their Honors Paralegal Program. Click here to learn more and apply by March 6th.

I started my service year in the fall of 2010, shortly after graduating from college. As a Political Science major, I frequently read about a range of pressing issues facing Americans, such as unequal access to quality education, nutrition, and opportunities for advancement. I loved gaining exposure to these issues but often became frustrated while sitting in the classroom and simply reading and writing about these topics. I wanted to get out into my community and make an impact.

As corny as it may sound, I desired greatly to “be the change I wanted to see.” This frustration intensified after two alternative spring break trips to New Orleans, Lousianna where I was able to see first-hand the incredible social, cultural, and economic diversity that exists within our country.

To make a long story short, I felt that serving in AmeriCorps would be a perfect opportunity to gain experience working on domestic issues while giving back to my country and I was right.

Serving an AmeriCorps year of service was one of the best decisions I could have made. Shortly after graduation, I moved to Washington, D.C. to start working with Volunteer Maryland, a Baltimore based non-profit that trains AmeriCorps members to be volunteer coordinators with their partner organizations across the state of Maryland. During my 11-month position, I worked as a volunteer coordinator for a youth mentoring program based out of a low-income apartment building that matched elementary and middle school aged children with volunteer mentors. I also created a pilot youth service-learning program for middle and high school students living in that community.

Throughout the year, I recruited volunteers from Washington D.C. and Silver Spring, Maryland and paired them with the child with whom they would be most compatible. I also supported each match by providing resources to assist with various issues that arose throughout the course of their relationships, planned monthly group activities and field trips, and attended mentoring seminars in an effort to continuously improve the program. Witnessing the absolute joy the children experienced by having a positive role model pay extra special attention to them and support their interests was absolutely priceless and made my experience incredibly rewarding.

In addition to the rewarding work, I loved living in D.C. and decided early into my service year that I would look for jobs in the area for when the 11-month position ended. After months of job searching, I came across a posting for The Federal Trade Commission’s Honors Paralegal program on USA JOBS. This position appeared to be, and resulted in a perfect opportunity for me to combine my passion for public service and goal of gaining legal experience before applying to law school. In this role, I have gained hands on experience working directly with attorneys and investigators on issues that affect American consumers everyday such as deceptive advertising practices, fraudulent debt relief services, and identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently interested in reviewing applications from ambitious, public service-oriented graduating seniors for our Honors Paralegal Program. I strongly urge AmeriCorps Alums that are interested in the FTC’s mission and wish to gain professional experience to apply! The Bureau of Consumer Protection, the Bureau of Competition, and the Office of General Council have many Honors Paralegal positions available and are interested in receiving applications reflecting a variety of majors.  Honors Paralegals at the FTC gain a diverse range of skills and experience for the future.  It is a term position that can be extended for up to four years and honors paralegals often go on to law school, graduate school, and business school after working at the FTC.

This makes it the perfect place for Alums who are considering law school or graduate school but would like real-world experience before applying to those programs.  The available positions are located in Washington, DC. Click here to learn more and apply by March 6th.

Leah Potash grew up in Peabody, Massachusetts and graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst in May of 2010. She served an AmeriCorps year of service with Volunteer Maryland from 2010-2011.

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