Did you know there is so much one can do with a law degree other than being a lawyer? Last week, through an informational interview, I had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Pellin, the Chief Compliance Officer for Aetna Insurance, owned by CVS Health. Compliance officers ensure that their company follows ethical and legal standards by monitoring risk, providing advice, and interacting with regulators. Speaking with Mike was an excellent opportunity to see firsthand how a law degree can mean so much more than being a practicing lawyer.
What is an Informational Interview?
An informational interview with someone is what it sounds like: an opportunity to interview someone to ask questions and learn about their career journey, current job, and other tips. These types of interviews are considerably more casual than a typical job interview because there really are no stakes, but are just to get to know a certain field or career better.
Mike graduated from UConn in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Government, and then went on to receive his J.D. from UConn Law in 2015. After graduating from UConn Law School, Mike had various internships, and then became a law clerk and, eventually, an Associate Attorney for the Flood Law Firm, which specializes in issues of personal injury. Now, Mike works at Aetna as the Chief Compliance Officer.
Navigating Your Career Journey
During my interview with Mike, we talked a lot about how to get your foot in the door of the professional world, especially in terms of internships and entry-level positions. Mike offered advice to make as many connections you possibly can– they will only help you get a job. Mike also said something that especially stood out to me– he actually really didn’t enjoy his first few internships and jobs. The pressure of finding a job that I immediately loved straight out of college was suddenly lifted when I heard that such a successful professional went through the same whirlwind of jobs before he found one he really loved. He actually came to his current job in compliance simply because he thought it would help him end up somewhere completely different– so he was shocked when he actually loved it and wanted to stay in the role.
The Value of Law School
As an undergraduate Philosophy student, I considered myself Pre-Law from the start. But, since I am getting closer and closer to applications and the LSAT, I find myself more doubtful if that’s exactly the investment I want to make. Mike offered great insight here– he said that the value of a law degree is immeasurable, and that it made him excel in his field because he was really the only one with that degree. In the end, the time commitment and cost of law school was completely worth it, because he found a job that 1. He loves, and 2. He excels at because of his J.D. Of course, everyone’s own career path will be different, and a J.D. may not be as helpful for some people, but this was still a helpful perspective.
More Advice to Current Students
- Be willing and accepting of career changes! It is pretty rare that someone finds their dream job immediately, so be open to new opportunities.
- Make as many connections as you can! I found Mike through his profile on HuskyLink, which is a phenomenal resource for finding alumni and creating connections. LinkedIn is also a great resource!
- Stay positive and be a people-person! Mike says that a huge part of all professionals’ success comes from their ability to work with others well and garner their respect. All connections matter, so make sure to put your best foot forward when meeting new people.
Next Steps for Current Students
- Check out the Center for Career Development’s resources for pre-law students!
- Consider meeting with a career coach to discuss career options and get professional advice!
- Look through UConn’s Pre-Law Advising Office!