Leaving law school and going into the workforce, I really leaned on my time in student government and the Board of Trustees. These experiences were really instrumental in giving me the confidence to say, I belong here.
Matthew Costello ‘13 was still learning his way around the Fitchburg State campus. He was among the hundreds of students making the rounds at Rock the Block, the annual clubs and organizations fair held in early September, and stopped at the Student Government Association’s table. There he saw packets for students interested in representing their class.
Though only days into his first year on campus, Costello saw an opportunity to get involved. And as a political science major who had been active in student leadership at his high school in West Bridgewater, it seemed like it could be a good fit.
Indeed it was. Costello was elected that fall, and continued in student government throughout his four years at Fitchburg State. “Some of my closest friends to this day are from college, and almost all of them are from student government,” he recalled. “It was really formative to me.”
His service evolved when he was elected student representative to the university Board of Trustees. “It took a lot of confidence to speak up and be a voice on behalf of your constituents,” Costello said, recalling some early nerves as the lone student among the professional men and women who comprise the board. “The board was really receptive to my concerns, and that’s something I was really proud of.”
Costello is also rightly proud of his performance in the university’s moot court program. Costello arrived at Fitchburg State thinking about law school, but his semesters competing in regional and national tournaments proved rewarding. Costello earned first place nationally in the brief-writing portion of the tournament in his junior year.
“Moot Court was definitely instrumental and allowed me to develop and hone the skills that let me hit the ground running in law school,” he said.
He went straight from Fitchburg State to law school at Suffolk University, where he met students with degrees from larger, more expensive institutions. “Until we received our first-semester grades and class rank, most students sized each other up based on where you attended undergrad,” he said. “No one really looked at me like I was a threat, but once I finished first in the class of more than 300 students, there was an objective standard to be judged by.”
When it came time to apply for internships and jobs, Costello tapped into the breadth of experiences he had accrued as an undergraduate.
“Leaving law school and going into the workforce, I really leaned on my time in student government and the Board of Trustees,” he said. “These experiences were really instrumental in giving me the confidence to say, ‘I belong here.’”
Costello was hired as a judicial law clerk to Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Gilbert V. Indeglia and then clerked for Chief Judge William E. Smith of the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island before joining the Boston office of the International law firm WilmerHale (where he had also been a summer associate in 2015).
Working for WilmerHale was a valuable experience, but Costello wanted to pursue a wider variety of professional duties. Last year he went to D’Ambrosio LLP, also in Boston. “That move allowed me to grow and take on new tasks I wasn’t doing at my previous firm,” he said.
Costello has remained engaged with his alma mater, returning several times to act as a judge at the regional moot court competitions hosted on campus. “I’m forever impressed each year by the level of competition,” he said. “It just seems to get better and better.”
Costello is also grateful for the role the university played in his own development. “Fitchburg State really gave me everything I needed to succeed at a very high level.”
This story was originally published in the Spring 2022 edition of Contact magazine.