Persistence Paid Off: Career Pathways in Action
Destani MadejLegal Assistant Program
Destani Madej moved from New Jersey to Rhode Island as a 26 year old single mother who knew nobody in the state. Once in Rhode Island, she enrolled in the Legal Assistant program offered through University College's Career Pathways Program. Here, Madej found community support as she learned skills that helped her advance in her career.
"With this program, I met amazing people. People who have a heart. People who had faith in me. People who pushed me to thrive instead of survive. I wouldn’t change my decision about coming to that program for the world. It was one of the best decisions I have made," said Madej.
Madej worked hard for twelve weeks of Monday through Friday classes and six weeks at an internship. She trained in Microsoft Office skills and learned the ins and outs of being a legal assistant.
"I went from not knowing anything about being a legal assistant to knowing a lot. I learned new terms, how to manage a calendar, how to write a cover letter, how to set up my resume, how to write a thank you letter, interviewing, and so much more. They say you learn something new every day, and I can honestly say that is the truth," said Madej.
The Career Pathways Program gave Madej the support she needed to grow as a whole person, not just in her academic life. She considers the Thriving to Surviving and Mindfulness classes she completed to be the most important parts of her training.
"Those classes taught me how to better myself, how to maintain stress, depression, and anything else life might throw at you. We learned how to act in a work place, what to say in a work place, what is and isn’t acceptable in a work place, and how to dress in a work place. We learned what it was like to communicate with someone in a different class, how to make a project come together with different peers, and learned how to get the job done as a team," she said.
When a representative from the Human Resources department of a lawn firm visited her course as a guest speaker, Madej put her training into action to make a good impression.
"I dressed business causal and asked about five questions about her and the law firm. I introduced myself after her presentation. I also asked for her business card and sent her a thank you letter before the night ended. I was very on top of this and persistent because I knew in my heart, there was a great opportunity for me. My persistence paid off and she remembered me," said Madej.
Through these efforts, Madej was offered an internship with the law firm that led to employment upon her graduation.
"It was the best feeling in the world knowing all the new skills I’ve learned came together to bring me such a positive outcome," she said.
Now, Madej has advice for others who want to advance their careers through the Career Pathways Program.
"I do not have anything bad to say about the Legal Assistant Program, CWPD, RWU, the teachers, nothing! Everyone is beyond helpful, caring, sincere, and always willing to be there for you," she said. "Don’t be afraid to ask for anything, always ask questions, and never give up! Push yourself through; no matter how hard it may seem, and know there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel!"