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June 20, 2022

Student view: All the possibilities

Maddie Pugliano is a rising second-year student majoring in comparative cultures and politics in James Madison College and human development and family studies in the College of Social Science. Pugliano is minoring in human behavior and social services in the College of Social Science. This story originally ran on the James Madison College website.

Maddie Pugliano
Maddie Pugliano

As an overwhelmed James Madison College freshman, I admittedly had not taken steps in exploring career paths before the JMC Career Exposure Trip to California. Before this trip, my idea of career paths for Madison grads was narrow and bounded by each respective major: Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy majors went to law school, Social Relations and Policy majors worked for legislative bodies, Comparative Cultures and Politics majors ran non-profits and International Relations majors joined the CIA.

During my time in California, however, my perspective about careers in public affairs dramatically changed. By meeting with JMC alumni pursuing careers from technology entrepreneurship (Douglas Breckenridge, IR ‘86) to program and data management at Netflix (Daniel Feenstra, IR ‘17), I now understand the career possibilities for Madison grads.

My favorite alumni visit was with Dajana Buzo (IR ‘19), a J.D. candidate at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law. While visiting Pepperdine, I chatted with Professor Chris Goodman, one of Dajana's first-year professors. Professor Goodman provided insight about what it is really like to be a law student. Most notably, Professor Goodman went into depth about the different areas of law, answering all of my questions about entering the legal space.

Dajana also set up a meeting with the Pepperdine Caruso School of Law Admissions Office, giving the group a tour of campus and teaching us more about what the general admission process looks like for law school, scholarships and different dual law degree programs.

Maddie Pugliano with Career Exposure Trip
JMC's Career Exposure California group at the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the biggest takeaways from this trip was learning more about Pepperdine's famous Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. The internationally recognized program's unique flexible class schedules stood out to me, showing me that earning degrees beyond my undergraduate career can be at my own pace.

This experience has helped me realize I want to pursue a law degree; it also allowed me to discover the transferable soft skills a Madison graduate has. All the alumni we visited said the communication, argumentative and information consolidation skills JMC fostered helped them land their high-profile jobs.

The Career Exposure trip to California made me less anxious about my career path, and I find a great deal of comfort knowing that my JMC skills will support me no matter what direction I intend to follow.

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