Deciding what to study at university is never easy. Whilst flicking through university prospectuses, the vast number of courses offered is utterly overwhelming, particularly when you are only 16 or 17 and the decision can potentially impact your career options.
Here’s how I made my decisions and what I learnt through my experience.
I had always enjoyed a range of subjects and thought about pursuing a variety of careers, from advertising to medicine to even acting. However, following my first legal work experience placement, I decided that a legal career would be the most fulfilling option for me.
During this experience I was exposed to a variety of aspects of a legal career, including the importance of building client relationships, having a keen attention to detail, and thinking about novel ways to address potential legal issues. It was this variety and intellectual challenge that I found the most exciting.
Following my initial work experience, I pursued other ways to gain an insight into a career in law, such as shadowing a barrister, attending court and reading a variety of books relating to studying law. Through these experiences, I solidified my desire to purse a legal career and chose to study law at university.
During my time at university, I learnt that law firms were recruiting students from a variety of disciplines, including STEM fields, which I was not previously aware of. I had enjoyed studying science at school, and had taken both Biology and Chemistry as my Higher Level subjects in the International Baccalaureate (A-level equivalent).
In fact during my law degree, the modules I found the most stimulating were Intellectual Property and Medical Law, both of which have a strong connection to scientific fields. Studying these modules made me realise that I wanted to combine the stimulating problem solving, client focused aspects of a legal career to the technically challenging aspects of a scientific career.
So I began to research firms with strong life sciences and intellectual property sectors and learnt that many of these firms were specifically recruiting STEM students to qualify into these sectors.
Naturally STEM students are desirable for these sectors as such students have comprehensive knowledge in a range of areas from pharmaceuticals to biotechnology. This knowledge is essential to build expertise and client relationships within the intellectual property and life-sciences sectors.
With this in mind and the desire to expand my understanding of medical science, I decided to return to university to pursue a medical biosciences degree.
Law vs Non-Law
My choices are slightly out of the ordinary, but the fundamental message of my decisions is that students should not be afraid to pursue a degree they find the most stimulating, and then decide what career they want to have.
By studying a subject you find truly fascinating, you will not only perform better in your degree but will actually find aspects of your subject which can be used in your career.
Non-law students are just as desirable as law students for law firms and in fact bring a wider variety of skills. The only disadvantage of choosing a non-law subject is that you will have to find other ways to show your interest in law, such as pursing work experience or attending talks from law firms. However, having an awareness of these opportunities may actually give you an advantage over law students.
As long as you can show you are committed to a career in law, it doesn’t matter to law firms what course you pick, just remember you’ll be studying the subject for three years, so it really should be something you enjoy!
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