Hello, and welcome to 'Aston Law Matters'. A blog written by Aston Law School students, for students. Find out more about our student writers and what they hope to bring to the Aston Law Matters blog:
- Ruvimbo Kazora
I am a final-year student and editor of Aston Law Matters. I enjoy going to the gym, walking and blogging. Through this blog, I want to enable students to hear from other students and offer something fun.
- Aliyah Mohammed
I am a final-year student. If I am not studying, I am probably watching Netflix, drawing, at work, or attempting some exercise. I hope this blog provides Law students with some reassurance, as well as helpful guidance and tips.
- Anya Sutaria
I am in my final year, and I am a Student Representative for Law. As an avid true crime and conspiracy fan, I naturally gravitated towards modules such as Fraud, Bribery and Corruption. I have a range of experience from overseas aid work to commercial real estate, and I hope to share my knowledge and experiences.
- Reanna Sandhu
I am in my second year, and I am also an assistant editor of the Law School Newsletter. I want to be in the legal sector after my degree, and commercial law is an area I am considering. I found an interest in mooting during my first year, something I did not think I would enjoy, so I would like my career to entail some public speaking.
- Olivia Smiles
I am a final-year student after completing a placement year at Shoosmiths LLP. My mind is not set on a specific area of law to practise, as I like to keep my options open, allowing my interests to develop organically. Although, due to my interests in law and the fashion industry, I have naturally gravitated to areas like IP and commercial law.
Read the 'Aston Law Matters' blog posts:
- How to stay motivated during a pandemic
How to stay motivated during a pandemic.
Welcome to our first blog post! In this post, we share our reflections on what has worked for us in terms of studying techniques. We hope you find our reflections and advice useful as we move into the revision period!
(1) Develop a routine with regular breaks
Working, relaxing and sleeping in the same room/household can be a lot to deal with, and separating time between these activities can be hard. Building a routine and work schedule with rests included is essential: not only to give yourself a well-deserved break but also because of the benefits to mental health and productivity!
A good way to do this is to compartmentalise your activities. For example, if you’re studying, make sure you keep this exclusively to your desk or table. If you’re watching Netflix or reading a book, do this on your sofa or in bed – but don’t mix them! Take regular (planned) breaks between work tasks and give yourself an hour for lunch to increase productivity.
Some of you may have a part-time job and find trying to maintain the right balance between studying and working difficult. Of course, trying to keep safe if you attend your place of work, or sitting at your laptop everyday if it’s a ‘work from home’ job, presents additional challenges! This can make breaks and relaxation even more important.
(2) Stay connected
This seems simple, but many of us are guilty of not doing it enough, whether it’s with our friends and family, or course mates and tutors. It’s very easy to become isolated during this pandemic but remembering that we are not alone and are experiencing the same things can be reassuring – a short text message, telephone call, or email can really go a long way and mean so much to people. If you live with others, take time to sit down and switch off’ together, or host virtual quizzes or movie nights. There are so many things you can do. Get to know your course mates, as having a network that supports itself is priceless, especially when exams get nearer.
Lastly, don’t forget your tutors. Personal and module tutors are there to support you; they care about your well-being, and they want to help you to make the most of your degree (remember, there are no silly questions) – so don’t be a stranger.
For some of us, the motivation to work out and get out is not there at all. However, it’s important to leave the house and actually go outside and get some fresh air if possible. It’s recommended you get at least 30 minutes every day, which can help to reduce your chances of heart disease and illness. Simply walking whilst listening to music or a podcast can make a world of a difference (and so can ensuring you’re eating well and getting the necessary nutrients!). This will enhance your physical and mental health during this period.
(4) How to overcome disappointment
With deadlines looming for placements, graduate positions and other opportunities there comes that annoying possibility of rejection, which can seem so disheartening when you have spent time completing online assessments and preparing for interviews or assessment centres. Rejection is bad enough but might feel even more difficult to take in the current circumstances.
However, it is important to remember that if you reflect on your shortcomings or areas for improvements, in the next application you might well be successful. The same is also true of module assessments. Contact your tutors for help and feedback to highlight areas where you can improve and look for themes in feedback from different assessments. This could make an important difference to your marks in the future.
- Applications Guide
How to boost your applications
Whether you’re looking for part-time work, a placement or graduate role, a great application is essential. However, it is important to consider your skills and experience and how they will benefit the organisation. Make sure you have thoroughly researched the organisation, not least because this will help provide you with a good foundation and base for a covering letter. Online tests are becoming increasingly common; you can find free numerical, verbal and situational practice tests online (the Careers + Placements website has great resources!) as well as workshops promoted by the university.
Above all, remember: don’t try to be someone you’re not. Honesty and authenticity are crucial to success.
Tips from my placement experience
My experience was as a junior paralegal in an asset-based lending department. This was not an area of law that I had considered working in before, and it really opened my eyes to the vast sectors. Everyone will study contract law/commercial law, but seeing law in the working world is very different to how it is taught. Working within specific teams and being exposed to an office with a multitude of departments helps to get a grasp of areas of interest (which is also helpful for choosing electives for the LPC or even choosing seats as part of a training contract).
Furthermore, through the placement you can develop many transferable skills not only for your future career but also for your final undergraduate year. In my final-year studies, I have found that I am able to apply a lot of habits and skills picked up from when I worked at the firm.
A placement is also great for networking! As a law student it is really hard to network with new individuals – the fear of what to ask, what to say, and who to approach. However, working in the firm was a great way to network with new people in a natural environment, and I would often have conversations with partners and associates whilst grabbing my daily coffee! This not only helped me to reach out to ask for support, but it was also really useful having connections at the firm!
If you’re not 100% set on a career in the legal industry it can also be beneficial to see other areas of a business from the marketing team to the sales side. This also teaches you how important the legal team is to the whole business as a lot of what a business does has legal aspects.
If you have any questions regarding placement years within law firms then please get in touch!
Voluntary placement experience
It’s also important to consider voluntary opportunities, such as Citizens Advice. These provide benefits such as getting all round experiences in different areas. In my experience as a telephone adviser, the role involved listening to clients’ issues and trying to find a solution through research and utilising other organisations. You should also check what grants the university has available to support you.
Things to consider when applying and receiving multiple offers
• The organisation’s key values and/or mission
• Living costs
• Working hours
• Job role
• Other benefits; for example, access to a gym, free lunch
• Exposure to your chosen industry
• Whether you have to work weekends
• Number of holiday days
• How the placement/role will help your wider graduate prospects
• Could the placement help you in your final year of university? Could a final-year module be related to something you will gain knowledge of during the placement?
• Could you see yourself at the same organisation when you graduate?
• The members of the organisation you met during the application process and any rapport you struck with them
• Glassdoor reviews – these are very helpful
• How long the placement programme has run
• International offices or international opportunities
• Opinions of family members, friends, current employer, lecturers, personal tutor, or past placement students (LinkedIn is great to find them!)
• Whether the organisation encourages personal development or extra training or qualifications while you are on the placement
• The organisation’s charitable initiatives
• The organisation’s reaction to Covid-19
Of course, this is not exhaustive, and different considerations will be relevant to different organisations!
Written by Ruvimbo.
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