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Student view: All the possibilities

June 16, 2022 - Maddie Pugliano

woman leaning against a fence

Maddie Pugliano is a rising second-year student majoring in comparative cultures and politics (CCP) in James Madison College and human development and family studies in the College of Social Science. Pugliano is minoring in human behavior and social services, also in the College of Social Science.

As an overwhelmed Madison freshman, I admittedly had not taken steps in exploring career paths before the JMC Career Exposure Trip to California. Before this trip, my idea of career paths for Madison grads was narrow and bounded by each respective major: Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy (PTCD) majors went to law school, Social Relations and Policy (SRP) majors worked for legislative bodies, Comparative Cultures and Politics (CCP) majors ran non-profits, and International Relations (IR) majors joined the CIA.

Group of students standing in front of Golden Gate Bridge
Sightseeing is also a highlight during the California Career Exposure Trip.

During my time in California, however, my perspective about careers in public affairs dramatically changed. By meeting with JMC alumni pursuing careers from technology entrepreneurship (Douglas Breckenridge IR ‘86) to program and data management at Netflix (Daniel Feenstra IR' 17), I now understand the career possibilities for Madison grads.

My favorite alumni visit was with Dajana Buzo (IR' 19), a J.D. candidate at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. While visiting Pepperdine, I chatted with Professor Chris Goodman, one of Dajana's 1L professors. Professor Goodman provided insight about what it is really like to be a law student. Most notably, Professor Goodman went into depth about the different areas of law, answering all of my questions about entering the legal space.

Dajana also set up a meeting with the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Admissions Office, giving the group a tour of campus and teaching us more about what the general admission process looks like for law school, scholarships and different dual law degree programs.

One of the biggest takeaways from this trip was learning more about Pepperdine's famous Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. The internationally recognized program's unique flexible class schedules stood out to me most, showing me that earning degrees beyond my undergraduate career can be at my own pace.

Group of students on the campus at Pepperdine School of Law
JMC's Career Exposure California group on the campus of Pepperdine University.

This experience has helped me realize I want to pursue a J.D. degree; it also allowed me to discover the transferable soft skills a Madison graduate has. All the alumni we visited said the communication, argumentative and information consolidation skills JMC fostered helped them land their high-profile jobs.

The Career Exposure trip to California made me less anxious about my career path, and I find a great deal of comfort knowing that my JMC skills will support me no matter what direction I intend to follow.

Photos provided by Maddie Pugliano.