I was recently reading one my new favorite small business blogs and the author mentioned she decided to drop out of business school. I was suddenly taken back to 2009 and a memory I had almost buried…
I went to paralegal school for a semester and then dropped out.
A lot of people probably don’t even know this, especially former coworkers. I was struggling with my career choice at the time. I was a newspaper reporter and had wild dreams of working at The Chicago Tribune during the height of my career.
That was until the Great Recession hit in 2008 and newspapers (which were already doing poorly) took a nose dive. My company’s 401(k) match was taken away and I was given a pay cut within a few months of being hired at my newest reporting job. I entered panic mode. My career choice suddenly became unstable and unpredictable. I began to question what I really wanted to be doing in 20 years.
I had come to enjoy law through my job, and still do. I thought maybe I could transfer my skills from reporting on legal cases – to helping attorneys with theirs. Enter paralegal school. After much thought and consideration I signed up for classes in the fall of 2009.
I did really well the first semester. The classes were easy for me as reporting on law had given me a great background. Initially I was excited to be using my Black’s Law Dictionary regularly again. But in the end I was frustrated more than anything that I was pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies – when I already had a Bachelor’s Degree.
I wanted a law firm to hire me based on my transferable skills, not based on a new piece of paper saying I had an understanding of law. I networked with area paralegals and they confirmed my suspicion – that in the local job market getting an interview was going to come down to having that piece of paper, or not.
So I dropped out. I continued reporting and eventually transitioned to where I am today, running my own writing and editing business, with one of my specializations being in law. The only remnant I have left today from my time in school? My paralegal association umbrella.