Jesse Roberts, '13, Wagenmaker & Oberly, LLC

The Calvin network is alive and well, as Jesse Roberts ‘13 can testify. Thanks in part to a referral from a fellow Calvin alum, Jesse was able to obtain his position as a paralegal at Wagenmaker & Oberly, LLC, a boutique law firm in Chicago specializing in nonprofit law.

“When I decided I'd like to try and get a paralegal job, I was told by the career office to try and utilize uKnight (Calvin’s online alumni directory), which I would recommend to everyone,” Jesse says. “I had the luxury of not being limited geographically, so I sent hundreds of e-mails addressed to Calvin alumni working in the legal field in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia … asking if his or her current practice had any openings or if he or she could refer me to another firm. I had great feedback, with about 35-40% of the alums replying to me, and I was eventually referred to a partner of the firm where I currently work.”

Working as a paralegal for a firm that specializes in nonprofit law has been very rewarding for Jesse. His job is to be the “hands and feet” of the attorneys, assisting their clients from start to finish with legal issues pertaining to their respective nonprofit projects. This could mean visiting the Secretary of State's office to file incorporation documents, or working with clients to finalize their bylaws, or helping them secure income or property-tax exemption, or even assisting them with articles of dissolution.

Jesse enjoys interacting with clients and acknowledges they are “some of the most caring people I’ve ever met.” However, Jesse’s favorite part of his job is working with his colleagues at Wagenmaker & Oberly.

“They're willing to work with me and be patient, and encourage me as I continue to learn and get better at my job,” says Jesse. “I have the privilege of working alongside some of the best attorneys in the business, which I think will prove to be an invaluable resource as my career in the legal field progresses.”

While learning and growing as a paralegal, Jesse is also continuing his education as a part-time law student at IIT Chicago – Kent College of Law.

As a graduate of Calvin’s philosophy program, Jesse has advice for other humanities majors: “You're more marketable than you even realize. You know how to read carefully, write thoughtfully, think critically, and learn quickly; employers want people with your skills,” he says. “So, if you've given up on grad school or teaching, or simply want to apply your skills in a different way, I would suggest you think creatively on what you'd like in a career, and how to best market yourself. And again, use uKnight – seriously, it's awesome.”

Written by Meredith Segur, posted June 2014