"Develop your networks. University is a fantastic opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people. Take advantage of it."
Graduating into a challenging jobs market, I worked for just over a year as a Paralegal at an insurance law firm in Manchester. Using that experience, I then obtained a training contract at Brabners LLP commencing two years following. I then moved onto an international firm and saw out the remainder of that two-year period gaining broader experience at a different type of law firm.
I owe a lot to studying at Manchester Metropolitan. My chances of securing my current position (one which I thoroughly enjoy) would have significantly reduced had I attended another University.
Manchester Metropolitan’s unique culture allowed me to grow and ultimately thrive but its geography was also important. Manchester, being within one of the UK’s fastest growing regions and its second largest legal centre provided me with a competitive advantage over my peers. These factors were invaluable to me.
The skill I gained the most was the ability to enjoy testing myself academically. As somebody who was guilty of an element of ‘coasting’ at school and college, I found the University’s culture very supportive and allowed me to focus in on what I wanted to achieve. I began to properly engage with the subject matter of my degree and take a genuine interest in it. That interest led me to explore more challenging legal issues and academic attainment followed.
This level of engagement is something I have continued to implement in my professional career. Whether or not I would have admitted it at the time, ‘just doing enough’ was, prior to University, something of a mantra for me. It would have been easy to continue in a similar vein. However, the environment was such that I was able to break this habit and go on to succeed in a way, which far exceeded the trajectory I had been travelling along previously.
Even where a student has a good idea of a specific role or organisation that they would like to work in, it can be frustrating waiting for that opportunity to arise and then falling at the interview stage. This is especially important for individuals who, like me, do not find talking at length about one’s self comes particularly naturally.
Interviewing is a skill like any other. My suggestion is to practise. Apply for different jobs in the general area of interest. Just as an organisation isn’t obliged to offer a graduate a job, a graduate isn’t obliged to accept a job offer. Succeeding at interview for positions which are not exactly ’on point’, will instil confidence for when it really matters. Additionally, it is not impossible that in researching a job in a slightly different area might change opinions or open up new possibilities.
Develop your networks. University is a fantastic opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people. Take advantage of it. An individual’s success in many types of job will depend upon the ability to develop and maintain personal relationships with colleagues, clients and contacts. Honing this skill at an early stage will stand students in good stead for the future. Additionally, the links forged at University might end up being some of the most useful professionally.
The number of fellow students who pushed me to achieve, and to pushed me to learn to work through sleep deprivation.
A supportive environment in which to develop both academically and personally.