I started studying at UWE in 2018 and was unsure of where to begin in order to get the kind of work experience I wanted. I had very little knowledge of the legal industry at the time and was very overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available about a career in Law. I ended up applying to the Aspiring Solicitor’s Foundation scheme, which is aimed at First Year students and attended some of their events. It was very intimidating to approach lawyers and ask them about their career path, especially when I felt that my background was so different to theirs.
I began the Aspiring Solicitor’s Aspire programme in my second year and started attending firm open days, travelling anywhere from London to Birmingham. I completely rewrote my CV, learnt more about interview techniques and brushed up on my commercial awareness. By chance, I signed up for the Aspiring Solicitors Commercial Awareness competition and, surprisingly, reached the Final in January of that year. I was also trying to juggle multiple jobs and extra-curricular activities with my course load. I found it very challenging to handle all of these commitments, but I was beginning to make progress and had begun to see some improvement in the results of my vacation scheme applications and was hoping to secure a placement year at a law firm.
Then coronavirus hit, and the world shut down. I was devastated that all of the work I had put into making progress had seemingly gone to waste. Luckily, I managed to secure a placement at UWE, working within the Careers and Enterprise department.
If I were able to go back to my first year, I would have approached it slightly differently. Whilst I was very worried about having enough work experience to demonstrate my skillset, I did end up burning out multiple times. I would probably take on fewer commitments to allow myself to look after myself better at university. I also would have contacted the Careers department in my first year for some guidance, as I was coming from a place of very limited knowledge. If I had some guidance sooner, I think I may have had a more structured approach to my professional development.
I would also have been more proactive in my search for shadowing roles, as it is very hard to get an understanding of the day-to-day role of a lawyer without getting to spend some time in a law firm
Overall, I have managed to learn a lot in my last few years at UWE and have developed a range of transferable skills.