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Dublin High School Alum Emily Edlund: From the University of Arizona to a Los Angeles Law Firm

June 1, 2015

Emily Edlund University of Arizona graduationDublin High School Class of 2011 alum Emily Edlund has been profiled twice during her journey through college. We first caught up with Emily back in 2011 during her first year at the University of Arizona (she wrote for the Life in College Series – Becoming a University of Arizona Wildcat – From Dublin to Tucson). Next we spoke with Emily about her experiences in the Disney College Program (Dublin High School Alum Emily Edlund Finds Magic in the Disney College Program). Now we close the loop: Emily recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Political Science and Government, and secured a full-time position with a prestigious law firm in Los Angeles, to start her post-college “real world” journey. How did you manage to graduate on time while spending eight months in the Disney College Program?

Emily Edlund: “I took six classes per semester, as well as summer classes, which allowed me to take a semester off and still graduate on time. I also took two online classes while in the Disney College Program in Walt Disney World. I kept in contact with my advisor which helped a lot; he was awesome and made sure I knew what I had to do in order to graduate on time.” Did you hit a wall at any point, where you’d had enough of school?

Emily Disney Badge Dublin CaliforniaEdlund: “That’s why I went to Disney! At the end of my sophomore year I was done. I’m the type of person that’s adventurous, and after two years in Tucson I was ready for something new. The Disney College Program was a refreshing experience, a new city, new people, along with time off from writing papers and taking exams.

“When I went back to school I was a new person, I was refreshed and excited to go back to school. I was on the Dean’s List after returning from Disney and was on the Dean’s List again this semester. Disney sets a really high bar for the work they expect and that experience helped me when I returned to school and in securing my first full-time job. The Disney expectation of quality definitely had an impact on my school work in my junior and senior years of college.” Graduating from college and entering the workforce is a major accomplishment. What was your experience finding that first full-time job?

Emily Edlund profile photoEdlund: “It was a really long and stressful process, it wasn’t something that just happened overnight – I’ve been interviewing and working on landing a job since spring break. During a vacation in New York I met with my aunt and mentioned an interest in legal assistance jobs in a major city. She had a friend that worked in a major law firm in Los Angeles and we started corresponding. He mentioned that the firm has a business services trainee program for college graduates and he thought I’d be perfect for the program.

“I applied online which led to a phone screening. I did a lot of research about the firm and the types of questions to expect for a big interview, which was really helpful. I was then invited to a recruiting event in Los Angeles, and also had to complete a series of online tests and assessments. The assessments were the most stressful tests I’ve ever taken – from personality tests to timed tests working with Microsoft Office products.

“The recruiting event involved 40 students and only 6-7 would be offered jobs. I had booked a same day flight from Tucson to L.A. with lots of time to spare, but ended up delayed four hours, and arrived at the event two hours late to a three hour interview. Despite that last minute surprise, the company was very understanding and kind about the situation. I knew despite the flight delays that I just had to power through and be confident, and I did well enough to get to the final round of interviews.” What does it feel like to get that call where you are offered the job?

Edlund: “It was the best feeling in the world, especially after months of working for and stressing about the opportunity. I’m so excited for this position, I love the company and can’t wait to start. The cool thing about this job is that I’m rotated through different departments including litigation, legal services, HR, technology, operations, business development and so on, so I can see where my skills fit in the best.

“I started looking for an apartment in L.A. even before the job was confirmed so that I could start right away if I was offered a position. I’m moving into a loft apartment that’s just ten minutes away from the office.” What have you learned about interviewing and job hunting that could help other students?

Edlund: “The University of Arizona offers Career Services which I found really helpful. I would work on my cover letter and resume and have Career Services critique my drafts until they were perfect. I learned how important research is when interviewing for a job, learning what’s important on a resume and what isn’t (your GPA for example isn’t important on a resume). I also worked really hard on my LinkedIn profile.

“For interviewing I’ve learned that confidence is key, getting pumped up. I believe the firm that just hired me could see how excited I was about the opportunity. Companies don’t want to hire someone who isn’t excited about the position.

“Researching the company in advance gives you more confidence. In my case I was asked by one of the interviewers if I’d researched the company and I was able to provide a detailed answer, because I had! Researching a company before an interview shows that you are interested in the job, that you care. Your online presence is important – from LinkedIn to being professional on social media.

“I looked for keywords in job descriptions and tried to call out those words into my cover letter. I also tried to show what I could bring to the company, rather than just talking about what I’d done in the past.

“Finally, networking is really important. When I meet someone new I try to find something in common because people are more likely to help you if you can create a connection. Be friendly with everyone you meet because you never know what they can do for you!” If you could go back in time and give advice to your high school self, given everything you’ve learned, what would you say?

Edlund: “I’d tell myself that confidence is key and to always find your happy, positive self because people respond better to positive energy. Be yourself and let who you are shine through!”