Virtual law careers panel draws almost 100 students during Abington Career Week

ABINGTON, Pa. — Eighty-one Penn State Abington students signed onto Zoom to attend the 2020 law careers panel, an annual event presented by the college’s Center for Career and Professional Development (CPD)

The panelists represented a wide variety of options within the field, but the career arcs of two alumna stood out from the more traditional choices for those with criminal justice degrees. 

Sayonnah Kofa

Sayonnah Kofa, Penn State class of 2018, works as a care coordinator at the Children's Crisis Treatment Center.

Credit: Provided

Sayonnoh Kofa, class of 2018, works at the Children's Crisis Treatment Center, an intensive behavioral health services company, as a care coordinator for middle schoolchildren. Her clientele sometimes deals with the justice system. Kofa urged the Abington students to explore their options.

"At first I had every intention of going to the police academy or the FBI,” she said. "But don't be scared to take a detour. I did, and I found the path that I’m supposed to be on.”

She also encouraged them to reap the benefits of CPD events to build their networks.

"As a student I was constantly at career events, either volunteering or participating. They helped me network and taught me tips about the interviewing process that I used to help me secure my internship and my current job,” Kofa said. “I might be looking for a new job someday, and the connections I made at this past career event might just help me.”

Monique Hendricks, class of 1995, is the deputy regional director of Gaudenzia Inc., a provider of addiction treatment and recovery services. She oversees 14 facilities, and some have contracts with prisons. 

“I became a corrections officer and found out that it was a people job, and I like people. But marginalized people have to transition back home. How do we help people when they go home? It’s all interconnected. I didn’t realize how much criminal justice needed behavioral health, and these sectors intertwined,” she said. 

"You can do so much more with this career if you explore. Mentorship and networking is really big. Don't just seek out people who have the same opinions and views. While in school explore things you believe that you might not like doing. Try new things,” she counseled.

"As a student I was constantly at career events, either volunteering or participating. They helped me network and taught me tips about the interviewing process that I used to help me secure my internship and my current job.”

— Sayonnah Kofa, Penn State class of 2018

Thomas Wines, class of 2012, started out in corporate sales, became a corrections officer, and has now found a satisfying role as a Pennsylvania state parole agent. 
“Being a parole agent gives me the fulfillment I was looking for. I wanted to be involved in rehabilitation. It took a few steps for me to get here, but I got here,” he said.

He advised students to find a personal cheerleader.

“You need someone that you can bounce ideas off of and help develop your career, a person who knows your strengths and weaknesses,” he said.

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Court Judge Glynnis Hill, class of 1978, decided at a young age to challenge himself to become a lawyer.

“Set goals for yourself, the earlier the better. Don't limit yourself, though. The more structured and organized you are the more likely you are to accomplish your goals. It’s critical to get a mentor. They don’t have to be in the same field as you,” he said. 

Andrey Krylyuk, class of 2015, is a paralegal at Lumen Legal, working with lawyers involved in personal injury cases. 

“Time management skills are very important,” Krylyuk advised. “Never be scared to ask a question, take advice, or try something you are uncomfortable with.”

Students asked the panelists questions about securing internships and preparing for the bar exam before moving to Brazen, a newer platform used for virtual hiring events and online career fairs. Brazen allows students to “wait in line” to talk to each panelist privately.

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With nearly 4,000 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 22 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics, and more.