How Alumni Networking Gave One Student Her Day in Court

Biola University junior Megan DePaso has always wanted to be a lawyer. This self-described "job pioneer" has a passion for the intersection of law and social justice, and hopes one day to attend law school. To learn what it really takes to become a lawyer, Megan tapped into Biola’s Alumni Advisor Network to gain some perspective from established lawyers.

“The best thing I can do right now is talk to alumni who are doing what I want to do, and ask how they did it.”

“The best thing I can do right now is talk to alumni who are doing what I want to do, and ask how they did it. I’m in a place where I have a lot to gain, and I’ll talk to pretty much anyone in law. I genuinely love learning from people’s experiences,” says Megan.

What she didn’t expect was to visit a courthouse and receive a job offer. Megan’s first alumni consultation started as a phone call with Daniel Ahn, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and ended up with a courthouse visit. During her visit to the U.S. District Courthouse in Santa Ana, she watched the defense question a former Mexican mafia leader. To Megan, seeing the law in action was eye-opening. Daniel extended an open invitation to come back and stay in touch after their meeting.

With one consultation under her belt, Megan was hungry for more information from alumni in all stages of the legal profession. Her next consultation was with Tom Dunn ('77) a criminal law practitioner and law firm owner, with 30 years of experience. This time, Megan was so successful in articulating herself and making an impression, that Tom offered her a summer internship by the end of their consultation.

“It was unexpected to say the least.”

“It was unexpected to say the least.” Megan still hasn’t settled on her summer plans, but would love to work for Tom in some capacity, especially since his offer involved mentorship. “It would be really cool to be mentored by someone in the legal world – not to mention, he is a defense attorney, something I haven’t explored.”

Megan is quick to note that not all informational interviews are this successful. “You don’t need a job offer or invitation to go anywhere to make a consultation worth your while. Talk to people, ask questions, be genuinely interested, and you’ll be surprised at how much you’ll learn. At the end of the day, that’s why I reach out to alumni – not because I want a job or internship, but because I want to learn their stories. In one way or another it’s going to shape me.”

“I realized […] that I should cultivate the virtue of giving back.”

Not only did Megan’s alumni conversations teach her more about her desired profession, they also made her feel more invested in her university. “Because of the alumni I’ve met, I realized early on in my Biola career that I should cultivate the virtue of giving back. I don’t have to wait until I have a bunch of money or when I’m finally doing what I want to do, I can start right now. That would never have been on my radar if I had never met cool Biola alumni.”


About Biola’s Alumni Advisor Network
Megan is just one of many students learning from alumni and exploring career paths through Biola’s Alumni Advisor Network, powered by Firsthand. Firsthand is the world’s leading provider of alumni and career mentoring platforms for universities.

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