Upon entering my first-year at university the expression ‘first-year doesn’t count’ echoed throughout. When studies became hard and days were strained, it was the expression we fell back on. However, the belief our first-year didn’t count was soon refuted, anyone endeavouring to break into the legal field should be well aware that academic studies alone may not suffice.
In the era where work experience and volunteering are encouraged and sought after, students have to show themselves as all rounders.
While studying, students are expected to partake in extra curricular activities, whether that be volunteering within your community or doing internships. Potential employers are now looking for students who excel academically and have obtained work experiences. For students beginning their first-year, it is important not to lose sight of their goals, those who aim to excel well academically need to start early on- namely your first-year.
Applying for vacation schemes in year one is difficult, especially since many firms opt to recruit penultimate students, be that as it may, there are still numerous open doors. While conducting my own research to apply for work experience, every firm I had come across had minimum requirements of 2.1. Doing research on what firm require is essential to help students understand how to use their time at university effectively, including joining societies and increasing networks.
Grades are undoubtedly an essential part of any interview, whether it be for legal work or non-legal, and this is why first year matters. From personal experience of interviewing at a law firm, the main questions surrounded the topic of grades, to my surprise they asked more than just my university results they enquired about both my A-levels and GCSE’s. Such questions put into focus the importance of consistent academic success, students need to put in hard work from the very beginning to allow themselves a greater chance at success.
Now, putting aside the dull and gloomy, remember the first year of university allows students to meet new people from all over the world. You learn to interact with each other rather than using social media to create friends. The jump from attending local colleges or sixth form to living on campus or travelling to the city is a major change. For me, it was a struggle to adjust to university life, from the travelling to the reading, but by making friends with those in the same situation allowed me to adjust myself to university life.
The university offers an array of events (check the Lawbore City Hub!) that extend from students socialising to talks from law firms, these opportunities should be grasped onto and made the most of. Societies are a fundamental part of university life, there are all sorts of events to get involved in and so many people to interact with. So find societies that you are passionate about!
Albeit many lean on the statement that the first-year does not count simply because it does not count towards the final grade, they forget that law firms will inquire about these grades. First year grades are the basis for your final grade prediction. Therefore, during the first year, students should set goals and work hard to achieve them, they should try to secure vacation schemes early on and most importantly enjoy yourself. Join societies, take part in open days and take advantage of events held by the university.
Your first-year does count, but keep in mind have fun!
Thanks to Rabiya Khawaja for this motivational piece. Rabiya has just started her second year on the LLB at the City Law School.