Katherine Van Marter
“Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy. There are a lot of positions and jobs out there (especially in the law field) that seem prestigious and come with a major pay out, but if they don’t fulfill you, they aren’t worth it.”
What are your typical day-to-day activities in your career?
I am over halfway through law school and graduate school, receiving my J.D. with a specialization in Environmental Law, and a M.S. in International Development, both from Tulane in New Orleans. Currently, I have two jobs on top of school, and working as the Senior Articles Editor for the Tulane Journal of Intl and Comparative Law– I am a Teaching Assistant for a graduate level Economic Development class, and a Research Assistant for a joint venture by the Environmental Law Institute and the UN Environment Programme called “Environmental Peacebuilding”. A lot of what I do is research, writing, logistics, and giving/receiving feedback. Law school and graduate school are also very reading intensive, so I spend probably more time than is healthy with a book in my nose. On a typical day, I spend an average of 4 hours in class, 6-10 hours studying and preparing for class, finals, and journal (i.e. reading, writing memos, preparing research) and the rest of my time is spent working on selecting and editing articles for the Peacebuilding books, selecting articles for journal publication, grading and preparing economics homework, and eating a lot of food (Hey, New Orleans, right?!)
What process did you go through to enter (or rise) to your position? Which skills and experiences distinguished you from other candidates?
After graduating from GSU, I worked at a law firm in Atlanta as litigation practice assistant while I studied for the LSAT and applied to law school. After getting accepted to Tulane (and GSU!), I took the summer off and traveled before starting school. I like to think that my Model United Nations experience and involvement at Georgia State put me ahead of the pack for law school applications. However, I think a big part of what distinguished me is that I was willing to take risks and be vulnerable by asking for help. My grades weren’t awesome in undergraduate (18- 20 was a fun time J), but I worked really hard at making personal connections with practitioners and finding the right place for me … Tulane had a top environment program, an international focus, and recognized the benefit of having a slightly less “traditional” student around. Know how to sell yourself, what your strengths are, and don’t shy away from your weaknesses.
“When I was a student, I wish I had known….”
Nothing is worth it if you aren’t happy. There are a lot of positions and jobs out there (especially in the law field) that seem prestigious and come with a major pay out, but if they don’t fulfill you, they aren’t worth it. Similarly, know your worth and don’t be afraid to say no when you don’t think a job or opportunity is recognizing it. The right opportunity is out there, and if you work hard and remain true to you, you will find it. You are smart, you are competent, and you are successful already. Don’t let anyone tell you or make you think otherwise!