Editor’s Note: From time to time, we like to keep up with what our alums are doing. Katie Lansing, a Global Studies major who graduated in 2012, was one of the original staff members of the Lesley Public Post, and a former editor-in-chief.]
When I first started working at Bredin Prat, I felt like I had no idea what I was doing. During my first week, as I tried to process the tidal wave of new information, responsibilities and social codes, I found myself relying on very simple processes I had learned from past experiences: to-do lists, priority setting, conversation starters, meeting agendas etc. I took things one step at a time and tried to relate every new task I received to something I had done before. It worked, and that is in part thanks to my time at Lesley.
I am an international relations manager at a corporate law firm in Paris supported by 200 lawyers. In short, I develop partnerships with other law firms around the world. Why does a law firm need foreign friends? Like most things, the answer is about competition. Our specialty is Mergers and Acquisitions, and many of our clients are multinationals: this means that many of our cases involve different countries outside of France. When this happens, clients have the choice between a multinational firm (a law firm with offices in several jurisdictions) or an independent firm (which is just localized in one). We are an independent law firm, and our pitch to clients is that we know the best law firms in other countries so well we are capable of functioning as one team. My job is to make sure that is true. I research, meet, organize projects, and communicate with a network of roughly 100 law firms around the world.
It’s not a job I aimed for.
Nine years before, I was starting as a Global Studies major at Lesley University, passionate about politics with an interest in journalism. During my sophomore year, I founded the Lesley Public Post and I can safely say that this was the highlight of my college experience. During my four undergraduate years, I was an average student. I did well in some classes and poorly in others. Little of the information retained my interest, and even less stuck, but I put my heart and soul into the Lesley Public Post.
I founded a team, made partnerships, managed deadlines (our articles were often more punctual than my own papers), designed and built a website, monitored viewership, argued for funding, motivated students to work for free, edited articles etc. I learned more doing this (most of the time from mistakes) than any other activity in college. I used every one of those skills and lessons in my following professional experience even though it had nothing to do with journalism.
The Global Studies background paired with the skills I learned at the LPP (particularly in project management) helped me get my first job as an operations coordinator at International SOS. My two years there brought new skills in crisis response, which, after taking a break to get my Master’s degree, I used to get an internship at a consulting firm specialized in conflict resolution. That experience taught me new client management and communication skills, which prepared me for my job today.
My experience at the Lesley Public Post jump-started a skill learning domino effect. In that first week at Bredin Prat I even organized, my tasks using the same priority metric I had invented for myself to organize article deadlines almost a decade before. More than anything though, I gained confidence in myself and discovered that I could actually enjoy working.
This is what Lesley does: it allows you to innovate. Half the fun in the LPP was that we could build something from scratch, entirely responsible for its success or failure. I don’t know many other schools who offer that kind of freedom. You have space, passionate students and most importantly teachers who are genuinely excited to watch you create.
So create, organize, invent, make mistakes and learn from them. Use this space and this freedom where consequences are still minimal to hone your skills. This is your time and your playground. Find something fun or important to you, get others behind it and make it functional. Build something.