Sonia Aguilar

Paralegal and Business Intake Liaison

Lifelong Learner /STAR/ Legal Operations

Connect with me on LinkedIn


“I am a first-generation American. My parents and my family immigrated here in the 1980s. My family has always made it [so we] never felt like anything was too much that we couldn’t handle. I used to be in the healthcare-administration field. I was there for just about 10 years, but during the time of COVID, I made the decision to change careers. It was a difficult decision because although I love and was passionate about the work that we did, I was having a really hard time believing in the healthcare system as it stands right now. I try my best to get involved in my community and vote for legislation to try to change that. It led me to where I am now, which is legal operations, to help the next generation like myself who didn’t go to college. I [knew I] had these transferable skills. The opportunity came up and they were able to see the value in my skills, and they gave me an opportunity to start this new career in legal operations. So I’d like to help others do the same.

Designing for Growth

Human-driven growth

“If I look back on my life, not only my personal but in my professional [life], I always had these STARs (people who are Skilled Through Alternative Routes) in my life who were, to me, the most intelligent, the most helpful, the most compassionate, the most willing to teach you and train you to help you improve and to move further along in your career. So, every single place that I’ve gone, I can say, there has always been a STAR to mentor me and help … teach me and to help give me more opportunities. Not just professional opportunities, but education opportunities as well — different training to help build my portfolio.”

AI-driven growth

“I could not understand in my professional career why I wasn’t making it to the next step when using profiles like LinkedIn or Indeed. It was after working and learning more about how AI tools can screen folks out who may not have college degrees or specific language. That was my introduction to it, and me [saying], ‘How can I learn more about this and how can I make it work for me?’ So that’s been a learning curve. Learning how to market myself and my resume and my abilities to not be hindered by AI in that way.”

AI vs. Human-driven growth

“I think overall, I’m a big advocate for collaboration. I always think AI is a great tool, being able to take out the manual work for certain things, but when it comes to things that require a human touch, like client-facing [interactions], maybe team collaboration, just things that can’t be replace[d] by a robot … I would say more collaboration. I think a lot of the fear that people have around AI is, ‘It is going to replace me eventually, it’s going to take my job.’ No, it’s a tool like any other tool that we all use in our day-to-day jobs. That’s what it should be, but we still need humans to review and to provide that human touch that you just can’t replicate.

Designing for Agency

Human-driven agency

“I think when I was younger, in school, [there were] a lot of guidance counselors, or maybe even teachers – constantly repeating the message that ‘if you can’t afford college, don’t even bother. Just find a job at a high school and build your career from there.’ But there were so many opportunities that could have different paths that people like me could have taken if they would have just known about them, had the resources … not everybody has to go to college to be successful … Unfortunately, that was something negative that happened to me early on, and it took some time to [grow] out of that … I know there are people like myself who feel the same way as well.”

AI-driven agency

“[There’s] still kind of a hope for me for the future. [Companies] could incorporate tools, or resources that organizations like yourself are designing to help people match their passions and skill sets that they already have in finding alternatives. Careers — it’s not a one-size-fits-all, but unfortunately, I think a lot of people hear that message: you go to school, you graduate from college, you get a career. AI [could be] incorporated [into] testing for high school students of every level, see … how to take [their] strengths and incorporate them into a certain field. That would help people [think], I can actually do this, rather than being told things that they can’t do.

AI vs. Human-driven agency

“If we get to a point where AI is the only metric used to measure somebody’s success in a role, that could be potentially something negative. If we were going to replace somebody’s job or part of their job [with AI], and then based on those metrics: [decide] who’s performing better, who’s doing more, then I could say, yes, I could see how maybe that might impact somebody’s ability to have some … agency over their work … on the flip side, if the AI tool was able to take away some of the manual processes, so that more human collaboration [and] more human ideas [are highlighted], brainstorming could happen … then that would give somebody more opportunities, more autonomy, and more agency over the work and how the work gets done.

Designing for Belonging

Human-driven belonging

“I think the biggest thing for me is people knowing that I didn’t go to college. In the past that used to embarrass me. That question always comes up anytime, like at a networking event or a getting-to-know-you [event] at a new job. [People always ask,] ‘Where did you go to school?’ You do kind of feel a little isolated when you’re, maybe, the only one in a room who didn’t go to college. Sometimes, unfortunately, I think that might play into people’s biases, unconsciously, when it comes to thinking about leadership opportunities or … career opportunities. It might make somebody feel less inclined to give me that opportunity, or somebody like me, that opportunity. I think you can feel it sometimes.”

AI-driven belonging

“I know we were just talking about a sense of belonging, but that is part of DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion], and I was thinking, if the AI is screening out a certain group, you’re going to miss out on all this diversity. The tool is excluding folks who don’t have higher education and don’t have a college degree. I could see how that could [have a negative] impact without an organization even realizing it. It’s not just diversity of color. It’s diversity of thought, diversity of experiences; you need an organization to reflect the world that we all live in, which is diverse.

AI vs. Human-driven belonging

“[AI] can be positive [for] efficiency and process, but at some point, if your only way to connect with an organization is through a chatbot or a robot or an AI tool, you lose that human connection. People, at the end of the day, have an innate desire for human connection in any form.

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