John Akin

Name: John Akin Picture of Faculty/Staff Member
Alumni Of:
  • School of International Affairs
Degree(s):
  • B.S. EIA 2009
Current Job: Law Clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Biography:

John currently serves as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  Many federal judges hire recent law school graduates for clerkship terms of one or two years.  As a law clerk, his job is primarily legal research and writing.  He helps the judge prepare for cases, comb through records, research the legal issues, attend hearings, and draft orders.  John’s clerkship has allowed him to study diverse areas of the law, and to learn from a mentor with an incredible wealth of experience.  After clerking, he intends to practice with a law firm in Washington, D.C.

How did Tech and INTA help you get where you are?

Georgia Tech helped me when I applied to law schools, and as a law student, my background in international affairs led me to focus in part on international law.  That path led to some incredibly rewarding experiences, including a legal internship with the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), and the opportunity to do human rights research in Sri Lanka.  Along the way, the education I received from the Sam Nunn School has been a tremendous asset.  I took courses in accounting and corporate finance in law school, and Georgia Tech provided the skills I needed to succeed.  It all comes from the level of academic rigor and excellence that defines the Tech experience.

What advice you would give current students at Tech as well as the Sam Nunn School specifically?

Take advantage of all of the opportunities and resources that Georgia Tech provides—particularly the ones that require a little extra effort.  After graduation, I spent a year teaching English in Indonesia with the Fulbright program.  It was an incredibly valuable experience, and it was one that I would not have had without the support of Georgia Tech.  The school helped me develop my application materials, interview for the program, and offered guidance and counseling along the way.  As a student of the Sam Nunn School, you have both the benefit and the challenge of a less linear career path.  Think about the kinds of opportunities that you might like to explore, and reach out to the faculty with your ideas.  You might be surprised how many of those opportunities already exist.

I would also encourage students to start developing personal relationships with their professors early in their academic careers.  Don’t be afraid to reach out if you want to discuss an issue that was raised in class, are interested in a position as a research assistant, or just want to ask for advice.  The professors genuinely care about the success of their students, and in my experience they have always been extraordinarily generous with their time.

What is something that you got from studying international affairs at Tech?

My international affairs classes helped me develop the skills necessary to articulate and defend a position.  In written assignments and class discussions, my professors challenged me to not only think analytically about complex issues, but to effectively communicate my analysis and conclusions.  These experiences gave me confidence going into law school, and these skills have translated particularly well to working as an attorney.