Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Ben Tejblum
UR Major: History (with a focus on Medieval England)
Other UR Majors/Minors: Clusters in Comp Sci and Russian Studies
Additional Education: Juris Doctor, Brooklyn Law School 2011
Current City, State of Residence: Brooklyn, New York
Job Title: Litigation Associate
Employer: Brody & Branch LLP
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I was a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity, the undergraduate history Council and the debate team. I also was part of the history department’s “Honors Thesis Program.” Writing an Honors Thesis was by far the best academic experience I had in college, and I strongly recommend it.
Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?
My mentor was world-renowned medievalist Professor Richard Kaeuper. I probably spent more time in his office than I spent in the rest of the academic quad combined. He is a phenomenal professor and I urge all history majors to take a class with him. We remain in contact, and his office is always my first stop during Meliora Weekend.
What did you wish you had known before graduating? What would you have done differently?
I wish I would have known how competitive the “real world” is. It is easy to get lost in college life and forget that the professional world is very different. I would definitely still major in history, but I would also take classes in other areas to develop additional “professional” skills. I took some great classes at the Simon School during senior year, and wish I had taken more.
What is your opinion regarding graduate school vs. working right after graduation?
I think working after college is a great idea if you are undecided about your future and want some exposure to the professional world. Graduate school is expensive and you have all the time in the world to figure out if you want to go. Plus, it is nice to finally make some money.
What was your first job after graduation? What college experiences prepared or qualified you for that position?
I worked as a litigation paralegal at a large law firm in Washington, DC. I hated the work because I spent most of my time making copies. That being said, I was exposed to interesting areas of the law and worked on big cases. I used to look at the attorneys in court and think, “I want to do that.” That’s why I went to law school.
What early career advice can you give to current UR students studying history?
If you know that you do not want to pursue a career in academia, I recommend taking some classes outside of history to broaden your career options. Take advantage of all the great departments at Rochester! That being said, I loved history and wish I could major in it all over again. I also strongly suggest writing an Honors Thesis. It gives you a chance to do original research, and is a great writing sample.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career? Where would you like to be in five years?
I am an associate at a boutique litigation firm in Manhattan. I always enjoyed studying law, and after working as a paralegal I decided it was the path I wanted to take. I am still trying to figure out exactly which area of the law I want to work in. Hopefully in five years I’ll have the answer.