Massachusetts residents who are planning on entering into careers as paralegals often wonder what it takes to have and maintain a successful career. While this answer will, in the long run, be different for everyone, there are definitely a few keys to success that everyone should master.

Here, we have provided three very helpful pieces of information that, if followed, will practically guarantee a long and fruitful paralegal career. So, make sure you take in this knowledge and keep it with you as you work toward the career you’ve always wanted.

1.A Degree or a Certificate is Required: In order to work as a paralegal, you are absolutely going to need either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the field. Alternately, you may also obtain a certificate, though you will have to have earned a bachelor’s degree in a different field in order to be eligible for this option.

Your degree or certificate, however, cannot just come from any institution or program. In order for you to actually be able to use your degree or certificate, it must be earned from a fully accredited higher learning institution and from a program that has been approved by the American Bar Association.

2.Internships are Important: The paralegal career field in Massachusetts is a highly competitive one. Without some kind of experience, finding a job can be next to impossible. The conundrum, though, is that you need a job to gain experience, or at least that’s what most people think. In reality, the best way to gain experience prior to being employed is to take on an internship.

Internships may be completed after you have received your degree or certificate, or while you are obtaining it. In either case, internships should be treated as seriously as a job in the field, and for best results, you’ll want to find one that is as closely related to the exact job you are hoping to have as possible. The length of internships vary from program to program, as do the responsibilities and expectations.

However, all internships will help you to build a resume, to gain experience that will be helpful to you when you do begin working, and to foster important connections with other professionals in the field. Oftentimes, internships will lead directly to a job offer at the place where the internship occurred. If they do not, though, networking via the connections you have made is always a smart choice.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Start Small: Very few people get the exact job that they want right off the bat. When you are new to the paralegal field, you have to be flexible and willing to take on jobs that aren’t exactly what you always had in mind. Remember, that your first job isn’t likely going to be the job that you have for the entirety of your career.

There are always opportunities to move up and onward if you do well at the job you are presented, however. Plus, every job that you work adds experience to your resume, which makes you more of an asset in the field and increases your chances of eventually having your dream job.

So, there you have it—three simple tips that, if taken seriously, can help you immensely in the field. Outside of these tips, just be sure that you put all of your efforts into everything that you do. If you only put part of yourself into something, you won’t get back all that you possibly can. Don’t shortchange yourself!