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  • Pivot Toward a Brighter Future

  • Emma McLaughlin - Hero Image - Pivot Brighter Future

    Emma came to Lang with an open mind and left on an unexpected career path.

    At Lang, and The New School as a whole, students are guided down academic paths that spark their imaginations and push them toward their personal and professional goals—even if they end up taking a sharp left turn.

    The end of Emma McLaughlin’s journey at Lang was a dramatic departure from her beginning. “I started at Lang in the fall of 2015 with a major in Politics and a Screenwriting minor. I was interested in how the two intersect, and for my senior capstone, I even wrote a short screenplay that was a sci-fi allegory for how the structure of the Internet is set up politically,” she says. But Emma’s interests shifted, and shortly after graduation, she began working as a lobbyist for the construction workers’ union of New York City.

    Emma McLaughlin - Inline Image - Pivot Brighter Future

    How in the world did she get there? It started with her application for the Eugene Lang College Social Science Fellowship, a program that combines research, theory, and practice and allows students like Emma to work independently over the summer and through the fall semester. She was accepted and took it as a chance to investigate an entirely new subject area. She ended up hooked on the experience. “I did the internship portion of my fellowship at the NYC Central Labor Council, and after a month there, I really wanted to continue my research.” The internship pushed unionization, workers’ rights, the legislative process, and civil liberties to the front of Emma’s mind, and her new commitment to workers’ rights transformed her into an informed and passionate citizen and a mainstay at the Central Labor Council.

    The New School’s network of support bolstered her throughout her fellowship and beyond. “Emma was able to fit together pieces of the unionization process and understand them contextually,” says Alex Gleason, Emma’s internship supervisor and an alumnus of Lang and The New School for Social Research. “That’s an important skill.” Once her fellowship was completed, Alex set Emma up in a position at the Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust. She now works there full-time. “We’re launching a community educational campaign in the Bronx about what kind of jobs and benefits unions offer and what steps unions have to take to be more inclusive of women and people of color—because right now they’re not very inclusive,” she says.

    Although she ended up in a career that is very different from what she originally planned, Emma was thrilled by the plot twists in her journey. Her advice for students like her who want to broaden their horizons and embrace new ideas: “Do a lot of different stuff. Apply for something you might not even know you're interested in, because you’re not going to know you love it until you know. I’m glad that I did that early on.”

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