Hi there, I’m Emily Abrams and I’m currently a paralegal with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. I graduated from Queens College in 2019, where I also majored in Political Science and American Studies. It is surprising how fast my first year out of college went by. Looking back on my time at Queens College, and specifically my experience within the English Department, I still genuinely believe that the people here and the education I received helped me get to where I am today.
There are both big and little things that stick out in my mind about the QC English Department. Finding a sense of community amidst a heavily commuter student body was a big thing for me. Professors, peers, and the Writing Center all took time and care to help me grow as a writer and a person. Even those dreaded peer review sessions meant a lot to me. Whether it was the inside jokes I had with new peers in class or Office Hours where I talked through my fears about my term papers, I knew I had found a unique and supportive community. I didn’t realize this until my senior year, and the nostalgia I have for it all now is quite clear.
Oftentimes as English majors we are asked, “What are you going to do with this degree?” Maybe some panic kicks in, as it does for many and as it did for me. I often used that feeling to fuel my determination to succeed. At first, I chose the English major purely because of my love for reading, and maybe a bit of escapism from the Political Science coursework I was also doing (this was 2016, mind you). I discovered quickly that the rigor of my English classes was making me a stronger writer, more than any other social science class I was taking at the time. So I leaned in and declared myself an English major. I was learning how to effectively formulate, research, and support my arguments about the literature I was reading—and articulate those arguments both on paper and verbally in class discussions.
I honed the critical skills needed to be a successful paralegal and a future lawyer, and I didn’t even realize it in the moment: Digesting a lot of information, having an attention to detail, making sure to fact check, and so much more. So, when it came to marketing myself on the job market the spring before my graduation, that is exactly what I told employers. Because I was an English major, I argued that I had many of the transferrable skills necessary to succeed as a paralegal. On top of that I had ambition and a desire to learn more about the legal field alongside top attorneys. My takeaway from post-grad job hunt: 1) Never sell yourself short as an English major, 2) You really do have what it takes to succeed because of this major, so own it, and 3) Keep hustling for your dream job, whatever it may be. If you can digest and critique a class-assigned novel that’s over 500 pages in a week, you can do a lot!
My final words: college is hard work and the QC English Department is no exception. My advice: challenge yourself, try new courses, and see where it takes you. I miss dearly having the time to read novels and debate them in class with peers, many of whom have become best friends out of college. One year later and it all really does feel like it was just yesterday…
Connect with Emily on Linked-In.