EU Alumni Perspective: Cameron Jones
Name: Cameron G. Jones
Graduation Year: 2008
Major: Psychology with a Concentration in Pre-Law
Current Position: Partner/Attorney at Parks & Jones, Attorneys at Law
City and State: Springfield, MO
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
I am an estate planning and elder law attorney at Parks & Jones, Attorneys at Law. I focus in the areas of estate planning, elder law, business and tax planning, and charitable planning.
I love getting to work with hard working people, who simply want to protect what they have worked for. We help people avoid probate, minimize or eliminate taxes, protect assets from the rising cost of long-term care and other creditors, help people ensure their end of life wishes are carried out, and protect them and their families from life’s challenges.
I get to work with all types of people, from all different walks of life. It is very rewarding to be able to give people peace of mind during some of life’s most difficult moments.
What is your favorite memory from Evangel?
I definitely have to say it was meeting the love of my life, Kayla Jones (formerly Kayla Pool). She is my rock and the main reason I am where I am at today. Without her and her sacrifices, we would not have the life we have today. I am truly grateful for finding someone with the character and Christ-like attitude that she possesses. Evangel is a great venue for meeting like-minded people who share similar, Christian values. In addition to meeting my wife, I owe Evangel for giving me the opportunity to meet many other lifelong friends. It is so refreshing to be in a Christian setting that allows these relationships to flourish.
Another great memory I had from Evangel was getting to have my dad, Dr. Grant Jones, as a professor and advisor. I think he is a great example of how passionate and devoted the faculty is to teaching and mentoring the students. Evangel truly has a world-class faculty who go above and beyond to help every student succeed.
How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?
For most of my life I thought I was going to get my doctorate in psychology. This probably had something to do with my dad, Dr. Jones, being the #1 cheerleader in all of Missouri for Evangel first and then psychology being a close second. I saw the joy this profession brought my dad and his passion for it was very appealing. However, after taking some pre-law classes with Professor Bryan Sanders, I realized I was much more interested in law. I liked the flexibility of what a law degree could do for me. I knew even if I didn’t practice law, there were countless other doors a juris doctorate would open in the corporate and finance world. Evangel helped me discover my strengths and how to utilize those strengths in my profession.
How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?
Knowing that psychology is a part of everything and would help me in whatever endeavor I pursued, I decided to continue with my major despite knowing I was going to pursue law school. I did, however, add a concentration in pre-law. Both focuses paid huge dividends during law school and in my career. By having a good foundation in law from my pre-law classes, my first year of law school was not such a shock. Evangel gave me a solid foundation to build from. My psychology degree is something I use every day. I am considered a “counselor at law”. Every day I help people through difficult times such as disability, the passing of a loved one, or pre-planning for these life-altering events. I help restore families who have been hurt by one another which leads to multi-generational family planning and healing. The education Evangel gave me helped prepare me for these challenges, and ultimately made me a much better attorney.
What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?
Network, network, network! It’s not always what you know but who you know. Always be on your A game. You never know how the person you are interacting with will affect your future. In today’s tech-driven society, in-person human interactions and meaningful relationships seem to be less and less valued. However, for most of the people hiring for quality career positions (people from age 35-70), they still put a huge emphasis on the importance of in-person interactions. This is why you can never take a day off when it comes to connecting with people, especially people from older generations. Always make good eye contact, a firm handshake and truly take an interest in the wisdom other’s have to offer. Truly listen to others and always offer your gratitude to them for sharing with you, and ensure they understand your career interests. If you make a habit of doing this, it will become natural and you will leave a lasting, positive impression on those you encounter. You never know if that person you are connecting with will someday open a door that sets your career path on a new, positive trajectory.
What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?
I want to see someone who has a plan. I was always told you have to have the best resume, you have to have the best grades, you have to finish top of your class and you have to have gone to the best schools. Yes, all these things are important and necessary to get your foot in the door, but not the most important in my opinion.
As a business owner who has hired many people, I’m looking for candidates who have a plan and have done things to further their career. You are not always going to know what you want to do in high school or college, but I recommend start volunteering/interning at jobs in the industry that interest you. You may not get paid for this time, but you are gaining valuable information which could keep you from making an expensive career misstep in the future. It’s never too early to start shadowing professionals, volunteering or interning at jobs and proactively determining what peaks your interests and passions. Start in high school and continue to do this in college and beyond. Not only are you building your resume, but you are making lifelong contacts and references for future careers.
I was never the top of my class, nor did I have the best resume, but as I begun to know what I wanted to do I was able to start connecting with people who could open up doors for me in the future. This has paid huge dividends for me in getting jobs, careers and obtaining clients. As an employer, I am much more likely to hire someone who has shown this type of initiative and planning and knows what they want. It takes a lot of time and money to train an employee, and I want to know the person I am training has a strong chance to be a long-tenured asset to our team. If I interview a candidate who has taken multiple steps to show they have a true interest in the industry they are applying for, then for me this trumps resume and grades.