When Josh Burton was 16 years old, his first child was born. At 18, he was homeless. He turned 21 while on a 12-month deployment to Iraq after having joined the United States Army. That same year, he returned to the U.S., was stationed in Alaska, and bought his own home.
Burton knows how to persevere. He has fought his way through hardships. He has accomplished things that most people at the same age typically do not accomplish, like being a landlord at age 23.
It is the kind of determination that has served Burton well throughout his life. And it’s a big part of the story when it comes to his journey to MTI College, his student experience, and what he is doing today.
Having grown up in the Seattle area, Burton knew that after his military service was over he wanted to enter into a profession where he would be helping people.
“At the same time, I knew that there were a lot of different ways to go about helping people. I narrowed it down to engineering or law. I ultimately decided on studying law because it seemed more dynamic and entertaining, something where I’d be working on all kinds of different things every day.”
With his military service ending, Burton was able to take advantage of the GI Bill and thankfully price was not going to be a factor when it came to finding the right academic program. “I wanted to find a place that would have the best possible name that I could put on my resume.”
Another key aspect to his decision was the fact that he was going to relocate again. He had family who were living in the Sacramento area, and he decided on moving down to the area from his home in Washington.
“So I had to think about what I wanted. At first I figured I’d pursue a career as an attorney, but thought about it some more and decided that being a paralegal was the best path for me.”
Knowing virtually nothing about Sacramento, he began researching schools in the area and upon discovering that there was only one with a paralegal studies program that was approved by the American Bar Association, the decision became easy.
“Within three days of being out of the Army, I was enrolled at MTI. I knew it was the right place for me, and they made the process very easy. Because of the GI Bill, I didn’t have to worry about finances, and I didn’t have to do any of the coordination with getting that taken care of. The school handled all of the interaction with the VA.”
It was this heightened level of individualized support that Burton says characterized his MTI experience. He had attended community colleges in the past, and while they had different missions than MTI, the personal attention was nowhere near what he experienced at MTI.
“I was just a number at the other school. I couldn’t get the classes I needed, didn’t know when I’d be able to get the classes I needed. At MTI they worked closely with me, they made sure I was signed up for the right classes. I knew all four terms what I’d be taking, and if I started in January I would be able to complete everything I needed to complete by the following January.”
In Burton’s second year of the program, he wanted to complement what he was learning with real-world experience. Again, the support staff at MTI came through. It was a Tuesday when Burton went to speak with the counselors in Career Services. Two days later, he got a call from an area law firm. Later that same afternoon he had an interview, and when they saw he would soon be a graduate of MTI, he was offered the job.
Burton graduated in 2014, and he continues to work at the same firm to this day—with a twist.
He started working as office support. Within a matter of weeks, he was given a moderate case load as a paralegal, and eventually had taken on a heavier caseload than any other paralegal at the firm. But before long his professional path took an interesting turn. Another lifelong area of interest for Burton was computers. In fact, he built his first computer at the age of 10. When there was an opening for an IT manager at his law firm, Burton saw it as a chance to broaden his professional horizons.
Burton got the position and for a time was balancing his work as a paralegal—handling more than 25 employment law cases mostly during the evenings—and spending daytime office hours overseeing the IT operation. He earned the titles of both Senior Paralegal and IT Manager.
Today, Burton’s firm has expanded to multiple locations throughout California. He spends virtually all of his time “putting out fires” with regards to technology and overseeing all aspects of the firm’s IT needs. As a member of his firm’s hiring committee, Josh encouraged interviews with MTI College students or graduates. He recently began the second year of the IT degree program at MTI. In addition, he has returned to MTI on several occasions to speak with MTI students in the Paralegal Studies program. As the firm’s IT Manager, Burton has hired two IT Assistants from the college, so far.
Although he says he does not have much spare time, when he does take time away from work he spends it with his wife Jenni—also an MTI graduate who is a paralegal at the same firm—and he also enjoys motorcycles.
Burton’s is a story of overcoming challenges, following your interests, and constantly improving yourself. During his time as a student at MTI, he earned all of the awards he possibly could have, including the MTI College Master Student Award, Outstanding Graduate, and Perfect Attendance, and he received the 2013 John O’Sullivan Memorial Scholarship from the Sacramento Valley Paralegal Association.
His advice to anyone considering the Paralegal Studies program at MTI is clear and direct.
“Really think about what you want to spend your days doing, and the type of people you want to be around. I knew I didn’t just want to work with numbers. I wanted to work with people. As a paralegal, I was able to work on all facets of a case, helping people who have been wronged. Even though I’m doing the IT thing now, I still feel close to it.
“MTI is a place that definitely has the best interests of its students at heart; and you’ll find other students there who are like-minded and just as driven as you. To this day I’m still good friends with some of the guys who I met in the program there.”