Daniel Rees Alexander Halford, 2nd year LLB student (left in image below)
When I started studying Law at QMUL last year, I had been ‘out of the game’ for quite a while. I spent time abroad after graduating from my previous degree before working a year in Greggs in my sleepy Welsh commuter town.
I needn’t have worried about being older than everyone else on campus – everyone on the Senior Status degree was my age or older. Though I was the oldest in my Pooley flat by a couple of years, the other flatmates were second years from the States and people who for some reason or other hadn’t gotten sucked into university at eighteen.
But shovelling pasties is a little easier than getting through a contract law case. I tried to expand my comfort zone, mooting and making a last-minute application to the Legal Advice Centre. I went to see a panel of barristers talk about their experiences and dropped by the Law fair. On the networking side, I had a strong desire to be talked at, to hear stories, but didn’t really have enough stuff to talk about myself.
I am Gaspare Chirillo and I have recently graduated from Queen Mary. I have completed a Law degree with a first class and, also, I have been a recipient of the Principal’s Prize for outstanding academic achievements. In addition, during my third year, I have been awarded the Draper’s Scholarship by the Law School; thanks to it, I will undertake an LLM in American Legal Studies in the USA. Particularly, in order to secure this scholarship, I have received great support from the QMUL Careers & Enterprise Department and would like to share my experience.
My time at Queen Mary has been a great ride which equipped me with all of the skills and experiences that I believe would be significantly helpful for my future career. Thanks to the quality of the well-structured law degree and the excellence of the academic body, I have gained a significant knowledge of the legal and commercial field. Moreover, I have been supported by the Careers & Enterprise Department throughout my law degree, which I feel has made me more employable and has helped me in obtaining important results.
Since the first year of the LLB, I have relied significantly on the Careers service which is available to all students of all degrees. I attended many 1-2-1 sessions with Careers Consultants and learnt many skills, including how to make a job application stand out tips
Catherine Bailey, 2nd year LLB student
Over the past 5 months, QProjects has teamed up with Hackney Volunteer Centre to offer Queen Mary students a unique chance to undertake a 3 month placement at a small but growing Hackney-based charity. The organisations were selected due to their need for a student to come and aid the life-changing work they were doing – these leaders are ones of great enthusiasm and ideas, but in many cases just too much on their plate, many with a staff of only 1!
That’s where we stepped in. Selected through a competitive (but not intimidating) interview process, 10 students were then placed with 10 charities to each complete 12 days of voluntary work, though this could be scheduled as suited both across the 3 months. This flexibility meant this type of placement was ideal for many students with deadlines to consider.
I was tasked with documenting the project to evaluate its success, and I can report they were many. Students had the opportunity to receive valuable training in areas such as writing funding applications from Hackney Centre for Voluntary Services – an area which none had previously encountered, but are now able to teach others about! Students said that this type of training, as well as the other work completed on placement, opened their eyes to the charity sector, with some now considering these careers post-graduation.
LLB student Megan Domas is in her third year at QMUL. Last year she was a Student Adviser in the Legal Advice Centre, and below she tells us how gaining work experience has helped her prepare for her future career.
As a student, it is very easy to get caught in the bubble of university life. Focusing on the demands given by our tutors and lecturers that often means spending hours in the library whilst juggling sleep, household chores and a social life at the same time is an essential learning curve in its own right. Reaching a good balance makes for a rich experience and allows you to excel at university. But what about afterwards? It is true that good grades can open opportunities for you but in the competitive world that we live in having work experience shows that you have more than just good learning skills – it means you have the practical, essential skills needed to help you in any job.
That is why as a law student I decided to apply to be a student adviser at our university’s Legal Advice Centre. This role entails being assigned to my own cases and going through the process of interviewing a client, researching their legal issues and then writing a solution to their problems in a letter within a fortnight. Understandably, this was completely different to studying and preparing for coursework but was key in highlighting the difference between actually practising the law to studying it. This is an important learning step for a lot of students, in many different subjects, who go straight from university into a job completely unprepared and as a result find the transition extremely difficult.
Billie Robinson, 2nd year English and Linguistics student
While at uni, most of us have a break of around 3 months over summer (some have even longer), and every year I find myself asking the same question – what shall I do this summer? While many use their break as an opportunity to work, others go abroad, and some admittedly find themselves rather lost. As I now approach my final year of university, I’m realising how valuable this long period of free time is and how we really should use it to our advantage. So, if you, like me, want to do something productive with your summer holidays – I thought I would outline a few options that may interest you…
As a graduate, I was quite anxious to contact the Careers & Enterprise Centre as I no longer study at QMUL. When I called to schedule an appointment, I gave a brief reason for why I wanted one and was given a session to suit my availability. As an SBCS (School of Biological and Chemical Sciences) graduate, I was booked in to see Dr. Maya Mendiratta.
Upon arrival, I checked in with reception and took a seat in the waiting area for my appointment. Once Maya greeted me, we had our appointment in one of the rooms where our conversation was private so others could not overhear. The appointments are 20 minutes long, and I felt at ease and had the chance to ask questions at the end comfortably.
Working full time I find it difficult to arrange meetings, but I was made aware we are also able to arrange phone calls or Skype meetings which are very useful options for anyone also working office hours.
After the appointment, I was able to take a seat and read some books available in the office and make further notes I needed. On the way out, I also picked up free leaflets available for further education and advice on getting into industry. There was a whole range of material including science, legal and financial sectors to choose from.
Overall, I have had a great experience with the Careers & Enterprise Centre and look forward to working with them whilst building my career. I would encourage those who are both sure and unsure of their next moves to visit as the environment is very relaxed and the advisors are patient with books available at hand to help make informed decisions.
Why not book a 20 minute appointment today? Call 020 7882 8533 or pop in to the Queens Building Room WG3
When choosing whether to peruse a masters or not, we recommend that as well as attending an open day at the university, that you also speak to people who have done postgraduate study to find out what the reality is. Finding out as much as you can from a range of people will help you to make an informed decision. If you are thinking about starting a masters course next year, find out what one of our student bloggers thought about staying on at QMUL to do a masters. following her Read on to find out what further study was really like.
How its going…
The first day (induction) felt really strange because I was back at uni just like I was in the past years but only this time…my friends weren’t there! However in some way I preferred not knowing anyone because when I saw new faces- that’s when it felt more like a new chapter or fresh start which made things more exciting!
I was surprised to see that the staff members and lecturers for masters are mostly different from the ones I had during my undergraduate years. Another thing I was not expecting was that most of my classmates were quite a bit older than me and most had worked or done postgraduate studies before. Also to my surprise, the majority of students (about 90% I’d say) are either International or European non UK students. All of this was completely different to what I was expecting and what I was used to as an undergrad. It’s interesting how I wanted to stay at QMUL to avoid change however thinking about it now…there has been immense change from my undergrad years to now even though I am at the same university studying in the same department! Small things like the conversations I have with my peers and how my day is structured is now completely different!
Strangely I had expected to have a similar social life to what I did in my previous years as a student…this was definitely not the case at all! I was surprised by the number of students that just attend lectures then go back home or to the library and that is it. The lack of social interaction could be because of the workload or that most of the students are older and settled so do not see the point of socialising with their peers, either way I was not prepared for this and honestly, I didn’t like it!
I do however love the course I am studying. I find most modules very interesting and I really enjoy the way in which there is a lot more application of what we learn to the ‘real world’ and world of work. I find that the lecturers are more engaging and the lectures are more interactive which is helpful given the huge workload!
In conclusion I am glad I chose to do my masters now because at the end of the year- I know I have finally completed my educational years! Knowing this I think will also help me move on and focus better on the next step I need to take. If you are thinking of postgraduate study and are unsure, I would suggest that you speak to a postgraduate student to find out about their experience and know what it is really like.