Max Miller

My career since Princeton has been a bit non-traditional, but that was true of my studies as an English major as well. Of course, I read Milton, Shakespeare, and the rest of the canon like any other English student, but my interests skewed towards literary theory and film. My senior thesis, about how filmmaker David Lynch deploys the discourse and metaphors of psychoanalysis to dissect identity, desire, and trauma, ignited an interest in psychoanalytic theory that has only grown with time.

In my first years out of college, I explored several career paths. Immediately after graduating, I spent a year and a half in Vietnam working as a magazine editor and journalist (when I wasn’t downing bowls of bun cha and pho bo). Returning to New York City, I took another editorial job at an online media startup, where I had the privilege of interviewing Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Judith Butler, John Waters, and many other brilliant artists, scientists, and politicians. After that I helped launch an editorial-driven, menswear e-commerce website, which gave me a taste of entrepreneurship and sparked my interest in web development. Amidst New York City’s tech boom of the early 2010’s, I taught myself to code and have worked as a software engineer for the education startup General Assembly ever since. I now know more about API design, relational databases, and Javascript frameworks than I ever could have imagined sitting in McCosh Hall a decade ago. And though my degree didn’t train me specifically for this job, I have always felt assured in my ability to think critically, to communicate, and to learn.

Now I am about to embark on another path that will bring me closer to the interests I explored and skills I cultivated as an English major. The past five years as an engineer have been challenging and rewarding; building software has given me a tangible sense of accomplishment, and I’ve built tools that have helped thousands of students learn new skills and find work they love. Ultimately, though, my interests lie more with people, language, and human psychology than with code or digital products. Therefore, in the fall I’m returning to grad school to pursue a Masters in Social Work at NYU and become a psychotherapist.

I am thrilled (and a little apprehensive) to undertake this new career journey, which feels like a calling in a way none of my previous jobs has. I am also excited to put my training as an English major to direct use again. Close reading taught me to think critically about language and theory and also honed my sensitivity to nuance, two skills that will be vital for clinical work. Clients are not texts, but paying careful attention to speech, body language, behavior, and narrative will be central to my future work.