Conflict Management Student Professional Spotlight: Colin FitzMaurice
Other than the death of a spouse, divorce is considered to be the most stressful life event an individual can experience. Colin FitzMaurice is using the mediation skills he is developing as a Conflict Management student to make this traumatic experience a little less stressful for others. FitzMaurice works at WeVorce, a Boise-based company offering mediation services for divorcing couples.
As a law student a few years ago, FitzMaurice found himself disillusioned with many aspects of the legal system. In particular, he was unhappy with the idea of an attorney being used as a “sword,” hired to attack and injure the opposition party in a dispute. A “soul-cleansing” summer job pouring concrete helped him look for ways to bring his career goals in line with his desire to help others. When an opportunity arose at WeVorce, he jumped on it. “WeVorce gives me a chance to use legal skills, and also my heart to solve problems and make peace,” he said.
In contrast to the adversarial model often associated with the legal system, the mediation skills taught in Boise State’s Conflict Management program and used at WeVorce guide people through a process and helps them understand that they are able to come up with their own solutions. Beyond helping people in their current conflict, this also helps them gain skills to solve future problems.“This is a big one for me,” said FitzMaurice. “Not approaching with the goal of just an agreement, but having people communicate.”
FitzMaurice says he has been especially energized by the “enthusiasm and understanding” of the Conflict Management courses taught by Ashley Orme. “Her Managing Generations in the Workplace course was fun and different than any other courses I’ve taken. Ashley takes theory and applies it to real life situations.”
He encourages current Conflict Management students to make the connection between their coursework and their real-world experiences, even if what they are most passionate about does not immediately align with a job description.“If it’s something you are connecting with, continue to pursue it,” he said. “You may not find a direct job, but you may find ways to implement what you learn into your professional and personal life.”
He also advises prospective students to keep an open mind about the Conflict Management program and the mediation field, noting the field is not as rigid as they might think. “There are structures and principles, but mediation is often about exploring and being open to what comes up,” he said. “Mediation is not all about structure and outcome, but about bringing people together.”
Mediation helps clients gain confidence in their abilities to create an agreement and hold to it because they have ownership in it. And the success stories of bringing people together as they go through a traumatic experience and “come out the other side empowered and growing” are what keeps him energized, using both his legal skills and his heart. “I get to bring my whole self to work,” he said.