Other than the obvious reason, for her
GROSSNESS, but there it is. Day 8937.
Why learn anything? When I was in high school, about five times a year someone would raise a hand in math class and ask, “What are we doing this for? When will we ever use this?” It was a smart-aleck question, but troubling.
There was a very good answer to the question. The teacher could have said, “You’ll need to master this stuff to become an investment banker, which is a career you shouldn’t box yourself out of at the age of 15.” Instead, she would generally mention something about “higher math” and leave it at that.
Ultimately, that type of answer does both math and investment banking a disservice by perpetuating the apparent disconnect between academic study and the practical work that is done in the world. That same disconnect applies to the liberal arts, and can make it difficult for someone like me, a history major, to find out what they’re good at and what skills they can offer the marketplace.
I graduated from college two years ago with a wealth of knowledge, great research skills, and no idea of what I could do to make a living. I got my current job based on a skill I had always considered secondary — an ability to edit web pages — and was quickly able to leverage that skill into an online marketing position that has been eye-opening. After years of working largely on my own in school, I am now an essential part of a team that is bringing new products out into the marketplace. Our business is threefold: audio conferences for human resources, finance, and sales professionals; reports and training tools in these same areas; and newsletters. I am involved in all three of these areas, in addition to coordinating our online marketing campaigns and analyzing the results.
It has been great to gain expertise in this one particular field and become the go-to guy for matters relating to our online marketing. I find my role as an advisor to management on these matters one of the most interesting parts of my job. What I love most is being able to use my knowledge to justify a company action, make sense of a marketing campaign’s results or prevent the company from making an avoidable mistake. I would now like to expand that expertise into other areas, to be an advocate on a larger scale.
I believe that the marketplace is very good at reconciling skills with employment, and eventually, most people find their economic calling. IN my own job, I’ve found mine — informed advocacy. The study and practice of law will allow me to combine my love of learning with useful and needed work, thus answering in my own life the question that was asked in math class.
I was recently discussing my plans with a colleague, and he asked me if I really thought the world needed more lawyers. Of course it does, I said. Those who don’t understand the law thinks it’s about suing people or going to court. For me, law is about putting knowledge and expertise at the service of society. Fundamentally, law is about making things work – resolving conflicts and claims, assigning and apportioning value. At its best, the practice of law does not obstruct but facilitates the workings of society. The world gets more complex every day, and lawyers help manage that complexity. For example, employment law used to be about paying your workers overtime. Now companies struggle with benefits, discrimination, retaliation claims and medical leave. The same logic applies to every part of our society. Every new technology brings with it new legal and ethical questions that must be settled. Every new financial instrument requires new protections. Every new threat – terrorism, urban violence, stock fraud – raises new questions of justice and fairness. So, yes, the world does need more lawyers.
I want to make an impact by applying my learning to the world, by helping people make good, fair and informed choices. I want to be the one who does the research, who understands the issues, who can make recommendations and explain the benefits and drawbacks of a given course of action. A career like that will combine everything I loved about college with everything I love about work. I believe I will find it incredibly fulfilling.