Vanessa C. Rodriguez, '16
Investment Management Paralegal
Ropes & Gray LLP
What have been some highlights of your Sociology experience these past four years?
The greatest highlight of my Sociology experience would have to be writing a senior thesis. In class, one might learn about racial segregation as facilitated by landlords, or about how payday lenders target the poor and profit from poverty, but going out into the field and witnessing these inequalities and injustices firsthand is truly a humbling and challenging experience unlike any other. Throughout the process, I was guided, supported, and motivated by my advisor, by many Sociology professors and teaching fellows, and by the other Sociology students/thesis-writers. In the Sociology department, I felt like I had a community who cared about my success not only as an intellectual thinker but as an individual on a campus that can feel like a big place.
What are your post-grad plans?
I will be working as a legal analyst at Ropes & Gray LLP, a Boston-based law firm. This job can be broken into two tiers – investment management analyst and pro-bono case worker. First, I will serve as the primary investment management legal analyst for various mutual funds, ensuring that they are complying with regulations and being forthright in their disclosures. My main goal will ultimately be to ensure that the average shareholder – someone who had a few extra bucks to invest in his/her retirement – is not getting taken advantage of by big financial companies. As another component of this investment management position, I will consult mutual funds on the selection of their sub-advisers (the financial firms that actually decide where the money is invested in). In this endeavor, I will consult based on the “minority- and women-owned business enterprise” (MWBE) agenda. The goal will be to ensure that minorities and women who own/run their own financial firms are given the same opportunities as the nonminority men who have disproportionate representation in the financial sector. As a second component of my job, I will be assisting in various pro-bono cases, giving free legal representation to the disenfranchised and underrepresented. My firm regularly partners with organizations like the ACLU, Rosie’s Place, Veterans Legal Services, and GLAD (my firm worked with GLAD to argue the landmark marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges, before the U.S. Supreme Court). I plan to work at the firm for a few years before heading either to law school or to a PhD program in Sociology!
Did Sociology play a role in helping you select your next opportunity?
I believe, without a shred of doubt, that sociology led me down the career path that I am on. The classes that I took, and the professors that I got to know, instilled in me a passion to serve the underprivileged and underrepresented. Sociology has provided me with the tools, framework, and paradigms to understand and analyze social roles and functions. It has taught me to question the status quo and to fight for what is just. These lessons have led me to my current job, and will continue to shape and influence my experiences as I embark on new opportunities.