Tasmia Akkas[/one_fourth]All of the careers newsletters, blogs, career advisors, tutors, all of them say to you: ‘Don’t do the scattergun approach.’ Being a scared second-year student, thinking I had to sort something – anything – out, I opted for the scattergun approach. Big mistake. I applied to at least 30+ law firms for some form of work experience. Being a law student, everyone: me, my friends and family, expected me to go off and become a solicitor. Genuinely thinking it was my only option, I obliged and I fired the gun. Needless to say, I missed my target, a good 27 times.
All of the formal big-magic-circle placements rejected me. It wasn’t because I had bad grades, or lacked extra curricular activities. No, instead, I just had no approach or reason to apply to them. Don’t get me wrong, I secured one interview with a top magic-circle firm and then two placements with high street firms, so I didn’t do too badly. But I remember the awkward questions: “So, why our firm? Why law? Hmmm?”. I mumbled some awful reason about business, helping people, numbers and travel. No wonder the interview was a failure; I couldn’t even think of a reason to sound witty or intelligent. I had applied to these firms, and once I got there, I had no fuel left; I had forgotten why I even wanted to do the placement in the first place.
Despite having no enthusiasm to complete my placements, I knew that work experience was vital, so the two placements I did get provided a great work experience opportunity. At the start of my placements, I was eager to really get stuck into some tasks and learn about the law and become an amazing mini-solicitor. Unfortunately, once I was given my tasks (some included swinging round on my chair for an hour, getting the teas and sandwiches, whilst other days I was drafting cases or letters), I realised law wasn’t what I wanted. Every day I went in, hoping it would get better but it really didn’t. The placements themselves were an amazing opportunity to understand the law, but I also realised law wasn’t for me. Perhaps if I had completed more research, not become blinded with the reputable honours of the legal career, and focussed my applications, I’d know that law was not the route for me.
So now I’m in my third year and it’s time for those job applications again. This time though, I sat down and talked to my careers advisor about options. She was great and sat with me for an hour and a half and gave me loads of booklets to look through, and then told me to come back once I knew what I wanted. I’ve now figured out what I want to do. I don’t think the three years of placements I completed in law have been a waste; in fact, they’re related to my new career choice.
The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to play with your skills, so here are a few tips to help you out:
- Talk to people – tutors, career advisors, family, friends, everyone!
- Don’t be afraid/annoyed/worried if someone questions your career – you have to do the job everyday, so you need to be happy!
- Write down your strengths and what you would like to do – focus on these skills!
- Look at personal specifications of the jobs you want to do, start trying to see if you fit them, and if you don’t, try and get some relevant experience!
- Never try the scattergun approach – it just doesn’t work!
ABOUT AUTHOR – TASMIA AKKAS
[one_fourth last=”no”][/one_fourth]She is currently studying Law at the University of Kent, decided to embark upon a legal career – after numerous placements ended up hating it. Now seeking to start a career in Public Policy and will be completing an MA in Public Policy in 2012. Accumulated a minimum of two placements each summer since she was 18. Tweet me at @tizzybelle