Sarah Josey Lyon (2012 BA in Political Science)
Assistant District Attorney at Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY
Tell us about your current job role/employer and what you’re currently working on.
I just started my third year at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Currently, I am working in the Grand Jury. Every felony case in New York must be presented to a Grand Jury to receive an indictment before the case can proceed to the trial stage. I have a caseload of felony cases, and I present these cases to the Grand Jury through the testimony of civilians and police officers.
What personal and/or career experiences did you have prior to landing your current job and leading to where you are now?
In law school I was fortunate enough to intern at a law firm, work for a judge, and intern at my current office. I felt like these three very different internships gave me a wide range of experiences in the legal profession. Ultimately, I really enjoyed my time at the DA’s Office and continued the interview process after my summer internship.
What was the most challenging aspect of your first “real world job” and what did you learn from it?
Before I started my current job, I had been a student for a very long time, in college and in law school. I had a much more flexible schedule as a student. The legal profession can be a demanding one, and I struggled with a work/life balance early on and finding a good routine. It is still something I am working on! I learned that sometimes life will feel unbalanced in the beginning and that is ok. But to keep from burning out, I try to leave work at work and am intentional about making plans outside work that will keep me feeling relaxed and balanced.
What advice would you give to new Wake Forest graduates about developing their personal life habits after college?
Remember that everything is a season. You might be brand new to a job, a new city, a new community, and feeling lost – it’s normal. Just because you feel like your work/life balance is off during the first few months of your new job does not mean you will always feel that way. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed at first. Try to get into a good routine of activities outside of work that fulfill you, whether it’s meeting a friend for dinner or going on a walk every night. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually you will find your own routine.
How have you made personal and professional relationships in your city, company, or community?
My office has been a wonderful community of both professional and personal relationships. I have developed friendships with colleagues that continue outside of the office, and found supervisors who mentor me in both professional and personal capacities. I have worked to develop relationships with colleagues by attending work events, shadowing more experienced colleagues when possible, and learning from my supervisors by continuing to ask questions when appropriate. Spending time with colleagues outside of the office has made working together every day an even better experience.
Have you been mentored by anyone at Wake Forest or in your professional life? If so, what impact has that relationship had on you?
All of my political science professors were so supportive and helpful during my time at Wake Forest, and through the law school application process. The relationships at Wake that had the most impact on me, though, were through other students. While at school, colleagues and friends were so supportive of each other through job searches and grad school applications. I have been lucky to maintain many close friendships after graduation, and watching these friends flourish in their different careers has inspired me.
What advice would you give to current Wake Forest students and/or young alumni who are about to start their first professional job?
Be flexible, be open, learn to take constructive criticism, and remember that everything is a season. The learning curve can be very steep in many first jobs (including mine), but the first few months are a season that will pass. Be a sponge and soak up as much information as you can from more experienced colleagues.
What are your future career goals or plans? How are you being intentional about working towards them?
I hope to continue working my way through different roles in my office, eventually working as a felony trial assistant district attorney. I am enjoying my time in my current role and and am focusing on learning everything I can from more experienced attorneys in the office.
Story published in December 2018. For current updates about Sarah, visit her LinkedIn page.