Adia Perry is an associate attorney at a small general practice law firm in Bergen County, NJ. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Biology, then attended Rutgers School of Law-Newark. Her initial aspiration was to attend medical school to become a forensic pathologist (medical examiner), but after interning at a laboratory during college and witnessing an autopsy, she realized that she was not cut out for such work! It was very gruesome. She wished she would have realized earlier that she was not cut out for such work, as her biology major course load was very difficult. Her college experience involved lots of hard-core studying and not as much fun as others seemed to have, and her GPA wasn’t as high as, say, an English major. At times she did feel very overwhelmed. But with tutoring, studying groups, and visits with professors and teaching assistants, she made it through. We interviewed Adia about her success and here are her answers. She takes us along her windy path to success and fulfillment.
1. What drives you to succeed?
To be honest, what drives me to succeed is the knowledge that in a few years, I will, with hard work, be in a better financial position in which to help my family.
2. Can you briefly describe the path you took to get to your current job? Did you have to make certain career moves? Any sacrifices along the way?
Although I did not attend medical school, I still had a healthy science background, which I utilized after college at a health care public relations firm in NYC. My job there consisted of waging media campaigns to bring awareness to minority communities of health issues surrounding the lack of childhood immunization. Essentially, it was a sales position, what I did was “sell” or pitch stories to the media. I realized early on that I was no salesperson, though, and struggled with what to do next. I knew I wanted to pursue higher education, but all my life was medical-school focused, so once that was ruled out, I was sort of at a loss. A co-worker suggested I go to law school and use my science background to pursue a career in intellectual property law (patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.). I entered law school under that premise, but realized that there were so many other areas of the law that I had interest in, so I broadened my focus and after clerking for a civil judge after graduation, landed a position at a general practice firm to figure out what area of the law I really enjoyed.
3. How do you handle setbacks? Can you share one?
I handle setbacks by simply proceeding ahead – not letting the setback hold me back. The first time I took the NJ Bar exam, I did not pass. While some would give up and use their JD degree to do some other non-legal job (re-taking the Bar exam is THAT bad), that idea never entered my mind. I simply made up my mind to take it again and really focus. I studied for 3 months straight, over Christmas and New Years and my birthday…..missing many parties and gatherings…but I passed on the second go-round. The key- FOCUS.
4. What do you enjoy most at about your job?
I love being a voice for those who in most instances would not be able to stand up for themselves. Ensuring that others, no matter of background, race or religion, are treated fairly before the courts is also very important to me.
5. Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years?
I hope to have amassed enough experience to work as in-house counsel at a major corporation, perhaps an insurance or pharmaceutical company.
6. Any advice or words of encouragement you’d like to give to shalenadiva.com readers?
Take your job and education very seriously. Your work and reputation will precede you, so do your best, even when no one is watching, even when you hate what you are doing.
Network and find mentors in which to learn from in the area of your interest. Get your name out there, for this is the way to gain jobs and business today. The movers and shakers are always the ones you see at networking events, meetings and panels. Don’t hide in the shadows!
7. Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
It’s cliche, but simple – never give up on what you want, no matter what anyone tells you or the odds. Let adversity make you stronger and keep on keepin’ on. Law school was expensive, difficult and frankly, there were not many folks in the industry that looked like me (African-American female) to serve as role-models or to inspire me. But I continued forth despite the adversity and hope to be that person to inspire those coming up behind me.
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