Throughout Misam Ali’s time in law school, she developed meaningful relationships and dynamic writing skills. After spotting a flyer advertising a new opportunity, she knew she was ready to succeed in the highly competitive application process to become a presidential management fellow for the U.S. Department of Labor, the role she holds today while concurrently serving as a programs and project management subject matter expert for a multi-million dollar IT modernization project.
Tell us a little about your work. What do you do, and what might a “typical” work day look like?
I am a Class of 2015 Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) at the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC). I primarily develop position papers and policy guidance related to the department’s administration of immigrant and non-immigrant programs. I also interpret and apply the various provisions contained in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the employment-based immigration programs administered by OFLC. Also, I evaluate policies in proposed legislation, executive orders, agency directives, and other immigration functions of the departments of Homeland Security and State. Concurrently, I serve as programs and project management subject matter expert of an $8.5 million IT modernization project.
How did you find your job?
I was appointed as a PMF through the PMF Program, which is administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM).
How did Colorado Law help you in your job search?
I discovered the PMF Program flyer randomly while visiting the Career Development Office (CDO). Professor Amy Griffin provided me with intense feedback on my application. Once I was notified that I was a semifinalist, Todd Rogers and Alexia McCaskill connected me with Colorado Law PMF alumni, who not only prepared me for the rigorous, multi-hurdle process, but also became a support system throughout my PMF appointment.
What skills do you utilize on a daily basis, and how did your experiences or courses at Colorado Law help you develop these skills?
I rely heavily on the writing skills that I developed at Colorado Law. Writing is a key part of my day-to-day tasks, from drafting to being the final review eyes on multiple work products. I learned that a good writer is a better lawyer. All the classes I took at Colorado Law and being on the Colorado Technology Law Journal (CTLJ) improved my writing skills. Furthermore, Amy Griffin's guidance helped me to continue to develop my legal writing style and skills.
Please talk a little about “people skills” and relationship building. How have your professional acquaintances (and friends) made a difference in your career?
I completely understand networking can be awkward and time-consuming. However, I cannot stress enough how networking is an essential part of advancing your career. In today’s competitive market, it is not enough to have an impressive resumé. My “people skills” allowed me to connect with others, be vocal about my interests and career goals, and build relationships with people that I might not otherwise have met. I quickly learned in law school that sometimes it is the individuals outside your immediate sphere that end up being a connector or offering the helpful advice that propels you forward. My networking connections continue to provide me with mentorship and support.
What advice would you give to current students with respect to finding a job?
First and foremost, I would highly recommend developing a relationship with at least one of the CDO staff members. The CDO supports students by offering individualized career advising and a range of services and programs to help refine and achieve career goals. Second, find a mentor. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have great mentors who were willing to provide meaningful opportunities for growth. These mentors have not only taught me about what is important (both personally and professionally); they have also given me invaluable advice. The value of these relationships continues to be made clear to me each and every day. I know that I would not be in the position I am today if it were not for the impact and guidance of my mentors.
If you were to recommend Colorado Law to a potential law student, what would you say?
Colorado Law provides a supportive and diverse community. You will be challenged and prepared.
Why did you choose Colorado Law?
Colorado Law offered a unique mix of location, academics, reputation, and financial support.