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How My Placement Made Me Love My Course Again

My name is Bobbie, and I am a third-year Law student here at the university. Due to the Lockdowns and Covid 19, my first and second years were interrupted and looked slightly different to normal, but in second year, I regretted choosing Law. I wanted to get away from the subject, and was unmotivated to do my work. Whether that was because the modules sucked (EU and Land, ew) or the course was online, I wasn’t as engaged. I decided I was going to do my final year, and then change career paths.

About two months towards the end of the year, we applied for our elective modules for third year. Since starting my degree, I had wanted to do the Law Clinic. Every University I visited had a Clinic, and it was something I wanted to do. So, when I got the chance, I ticked Law Clinic. The Law Clinic was 15 credits, and you got to do it with another 15 credit module. I applied for the Law Placement module. It said it was done on the basis of attendance and grades, and while I knew I had high attendance, I was unsure my grades were good enough. When I got the email confirming my place, I was ecstatic. I had no details of the place, but I had got the Placement module, and I had no idea how.

Once term started, I was given the details of the firm I would be attending. I would be visiting a Law Firm in Lincoln called Chattertons Solictors and Wealth Management, a small bus ride away up the hill to Nettleham Field. I realised that I was one of nine students who had been given a place on that module. I was shocked as I looked around the room at the other eight students, as my Lecturer detailed how we had been chosen based on our high grades and attendance. I could not fathom how I had been chosen.

The imposter syndrome continued up until I started my placement. My lecturer gave each of us the details of our firm, and told us we had to email and arrange the day and time on which we would visit the firm each week. I emailed and arranged to start at Chattertons that Thursday, from 2:30pm to 5pm. I walked that week, just so I knew I could, and it took me a full hour and a half to make my way through town and up the hill to the firm, yet somehow, I was still early. I went to the nearby Starbucks, ordered myself a drink, and sat and read as much as I could from the firm’s website to retain the information for when I went inside. I still did not believe that I was the right one for the place, and thought that any number of my classmates could have deserved to walk into that firm more than me.

Even though I had been incredibly nervous, Chattertons from day one looked after, cared for and helped me, answering any questions I had, and as the weeks passed, I grew more and more confident. Every experience, from the first day sat on reception and sorting mail, to sitting with paralegals to sitting with partners, I started to realise this was an environment I wanted to work in full time. The real-life application of the subjects I had both liked and disliked from the first two years of my degree made me realise how interesting the subject was, and how fulfilling a career in Law would be.

It was nice to be doing something less ‘academic’ and theoretical, and bring in a practical aspect to my studies.

Why you Should Apply for a Placement

If your course offers a placement module, or even a year, it is definitely something worth considering. Here are five reasons why applying for a placement can enhance your student experience:

  1. It is less theoretical and shows you how your subject will benefit you in wider world.
  2. It is useful to confirm your career path and decisions about your future.
  3. You can develop useful connections and relationships with professionals
  4. It grows your confidence.
  5. It will help your CV and Employability.

How Do You Apply for a Placement or Work Experience

If your course does not offer you the opportunity to apply for a module or year out on a placement, my advice is as follows:

Ask Your Tutor, Careers Advisor or Course Leader

  • I think this one might be obvious, but a lot of local professionals are more likely to go through the course specific to their industry to find students to partake in various placements and work experience schemes. Read the emails you receive from your lecturers, discuss your plans with your personal tutor, and enquire. Be nosey. Take your CV to them, ask them about applications, use them as references — that is what they are there for.

Talk to the Lincoln Careers Service

  • If course specific help fails you, Lincoln’s careers service — https://uolcareers.co.uk — offers a whole range of opportunities branching a range of industries and career paths.

Talk to People and Put Yourself Out there

  • Make the most of all the societies, course based events and opportunities you can — you never know when a contact can provide you with the chance to gain work experience. Make your goals known, and be friendly and polite.
  • It is best to apply near the start of the year or around a university holiday period, as you know your studies will not be as busy and that you will have the time to accommodate the placement.

Remember That it’s Not Too Late

If you are in third year, and worried about finding work experience as you have been unable to, don’t panic at all. My housemate also applied to the Placement module with me, and when she didn’t also get it, we were both gutted. However, she has been able to apply, through the university’s careers emails, to a mentorships scheme with a local law firm, and has found that equally as rewarding, and also only started this year. Another friend found a voluntary paralegal role, and he has been enjoying that as well. Everything happens for a reason, but you do have to put yourself out there, risk disappointment, and take all the opportunities. Whatever year you are in.

I FULLY recommend choosing a placement, and wish you all the best of luck in your applications.

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