BA degree, check. Internship, check. First job offer, check. Promotion, check. Professional certificate, check. Great new job, check!!
UCR alum (2015) Kandice Carraway has been on a journey toward personal fulfillment and professional success—and it began with a summer internship.
Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension?
A. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts degree from UCR in 2015. I majored in history with a minor in law and society. The quarter before I graduated, I attended an internship informational workshop hosted by UCR, where I learned about the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office summer internship program. I applied, was accepted, and spent the summer learning about the DA’s role in criminal law.
The following year, I accepted a job offer from the DA’s office as an office assistant and in 2019, I was promoted to Legal Support Assistant. Encouraged by my colleagues in the DA’s office, I decided to pursue a Professional Certificate in Paralegal Studies from UCR University Extension so that I could promote to a paralegal position. In 2021, I received my professional certificate and in just a few short months, I was promoted to paralegal.
I worked as a paralegal in the office for seven months before accepting a job offer from a private civil litigation law firm in downtown Los Angeles, Richards Watson & Gershon, where I have just begun my new career journey in civil law.
Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits in your journey?
A. One unexpected benefit in my journey in the legal field is the amount of support I have received from colleagues, the UCR University Extension program instructors, and loved ones.
I have a huge support system in the Riverside County DA’s office, which has played an integral part in my growth. My experience there has given me the confidence to make this change in my career. As I enter this new chapter in civil litigation law at Richards Watson & Gershon, I feel an immense amount of support from my family, friends, and colleagues.
This journey has been a huge blessing in my life; I am appreciative of everyone who has helped me along the way.
Q. What difference did your experience at UCR University Extension make to your life path and career goals?
A. My experience at UCR University Extension gave me the opportunity to advance in my career. Each of my instructors genuinely wanted the entire class to succeed, and the program gave me the confidence I needed to further pursue my goals.
The instructors took a very realistic approach to teaching the classes. They provided real-life examples in their lectures, which helped prepare me for the responsibilities and challenges of being a paralegal.
Q. What have been some of the most exciting or rewarding moments of your career so far?
A. One of the most rewarding moments of my career is receiving “Employee of the Quarter” at the DA’s office. I take pride in my work ethic, and it was really special to be recognized for it.
Q. What professional and personal achievements are you most proud of, and why?
A. I am very proud that I obtained my paralegals certificate. I had been out of school for four years before I decided to enroll in UCR University Extension’s program. I was nervous about the workload-combined with working full time, but I was disciplined and exceeded my own expectations on my performance.
Q. Looking back at where you were when you started this journey, where did you think, or hope, it would lead you?
A. When I started my journey in the legal field as an intern at the Riverside County District Attorney's Office, I was unsure about my career goals. As I continued to learn about the legal field and gained more experience, my passion grew and I am excited to discover how this next chapter in my career will be.
Q. What career (or other) advice would you give to students or graduates looking to move into your industry?
A. My advice for students going through the paralegal program with the hopes of becoming a paralegal would be to approach each task, no matter how small, with a positive attitude. Instructor Jacqueline James, J.D., gave this same advice in one of her lectures, and it resonated with me. There are no standard responsibilities for all paralegals. The type of work you do depends on your work ethic, experience, and work relationship you have with the attorney you are assisting. Approaching each task with a positive attitude and truly caring about the work you produce establishes trust with your attorneys, and can open doors for you to take on more responsibilities and gain the experience necessary to be your very best. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up, ask questions, and advocate for yourself with anything you are not comfortable with.
Q. What are your hopes and aims for your future?
A. Having just started at a new firm in a different area of the law, my hope is to be a sponge and absorb as much knowledge and experience as I can so that I can be a well-rounded paralegal.
Q. In your life today, what makes you really happy?
A. Spending time with my loved ones and focusing on my personal growth makes me happy. I am also really excited about my new position at Richards, Watson & Gershon, and it makes me proud to realize how far I have come.
Thank you, Kandice, for sharing your story and for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. We can’t wait to watch you soar and do the good work assisting litigation attorneys. Congratulations on your personal and professional success!
B.A., University of California, Riverside
Graduate, UCR University Extension
Professional Certificate in Paralegal Studies