Calista (Kruse) Menzhuber
Year of Graduation: 2000
Major(s): Philosophy Minor(s): English & Art
Current Position: Product Developer, Thomson Reuters, Graduate School: Law, William Mitchell College of Law
Please give a brief description of your current position:
I work for a legal publishing company that provides a wide variety of legal research materials and creates tools to help attorneys manage their daily tasks. I'm currently part of a group focused on creating practical guidance for attorneys. My role as a Product Developer has been varied but much of my recent work has been with developers building an editorial publishing tool which publishes our content to our legal research site, along with training and maintenance of that tool.
What path did you follow to arrive at your current job?
I started working at Thomson Reuters in a customer service position a couple of years out of undergrad and there I realized that law school might be a good fit for me. I attended the evening program at William Mitchell and moved into the Product Development group at my company as a Legal Information Analyst. After law school, I have continued to work in Product Development to develop new products and content for our legal customers and tools for our internal editors.
What advice/suggestions would you have for students who might be interested in your career?
When I finished college, I had no idea that I would go to law school or end up in product development. I didn't know what I wanted to do, but I have ended up doing something I really like. My advice would be to try things and stay open-minded about where your job might take you. If you like something, pursue it further. Talk to people and learn about jobs that you didn't know existed. And if you are interested in the legal path, I would recommend honing writing skills in college, taking a logic class, and participating as much as possible in class discussions.
What skills are important in your field?
It is very important to be able to work closely with developers and communicate well with them in order to build systems to the business's requirements. A lot of technical knowledge is not required, but being willing to learn and develop a high-level understanding of underlying systems and infrastructure is very useful. It's challenging but very helpful to be able to imagine how a system should work and all of the various ways it might be used before it is actually built. Finally, attention to detail is critical, but it's also necessary to keep the big picture and the business's end goals in mind so that time and energy isn't spent on minor issues to the detriment of more important goals.
What is the most satisfying/rewarding part of your job?
I work with great, smart people, and I learn so much from them. I get to work with many different departments, and I learn a lot about the company that way too which is really valuable. Problem solving is a significant part of this role and getting to a solution is always satisfying. I also support the people using our publishing tool, so helping train and teach them how to use it is rewarding for me.
The most challenging aspect of the job for me is that I've always worked with developers who are in a different state. It is difficult to never be able to have a face to face conversation or a quick chat in the hallway or even a celebration when a project is finished. Technology allows for plenty of communication, but I think the dynamic changes when groups are not together in the same building, and I'm still working through how to best manage those relationships and communicate effectively in that environment.
What activities/experiences were helpful at CSB/SJU (and elsewhere) in preparation for this career?
My degree in Philosophy and the time at CSB/SJU spent writing papers prepared me well for law school, and I would argue, for any job. Clear communication is valuable anywhere. I also think the friends and connections I made at CSB/SJU have been very helpful to me in terms of hearing about new opportunities and prospects. I came out of undergrad not knowing what I wanted to do, and my path has not been entirely straightforward, but I can say that I am in a position I really enjoy and that challenges me constantly, and I know I can thank CSB friends who have helped and supported me.
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