Future Lawyer Blog

Exploring your career path, your way…with a little luck and a lot of resilience…

At a recent LLM External Speaker event for students at the City Law School, Tina Carlile, senior counsel for international trade at bp, formerly known as British Petroleum, walked us through her journey of finding her own, true career path. Tina was speaking to us in a personal capacity.

The event called “A little luck and a lot of resilience – finding a career that you love”, highlighted the myriad of opportunities you meet along the way to reaching your desired path. We all are rushing through our lives, exploring our varied interests every day, but only some people take the leap of faith and seize the opportunity to try something different.

Tina connected the dots between her interests during the presentation on her professional life. She enrolled in a language course in China after her undergraduate degree and later found a job at Microsoft in China. Tina stated that her pay was not high, but it was more important to her to take opportunities which were fulfilling and would pave her way towards a broader range of work options. Tina’s inquisitiveness to explore came from her early years in a small town outside Dallas, Texas where she stated, “there were more cows than people”. This pushed her to go out and see the world beyond.

Tina escaped a small town outside Texas where there were ‘more cows than people’…

Tina enrolled at law school in Los Angles after her internship in China and then worked for the US government in Macedonia and Washington DC. Before finally moving to bp, Tina worked at Deloitte London for several years. All of these jobs were very distinct from each other and this was important to her. At last, Tina stated that even after finding her interest in law, she had to explore the area of law which attracted her the most. Tina was unaware of international trade law as a subject. This struck a chord with me, as there are so many practice areas to explore, I feel I may be oblivious to something that could be my true interest.

While walking us through her journey, Tina shone a light on a very important matter. Tina stated her inital wish to pursue law arose to a desire to help refugees and those in need. This was a surprise, and seemed not to align with being an international trade lawyer. However Tina emphasised that by being an international trade lawyer, she is making sure policies are enforced and correctly constituted to address human rights concerns as well. This indirectly meets her purpose of being a lawyer in the first place. One crucial learning point from this is that there are many diverse ways to accomplish what you aim for, rather than the one obvious way.

Tina shared the lessons that she has learnt over the years, intending to help others. These are:

  • be open to opportunity
  • be resilient
  • maximise your options
  • network

She noted how crucial it is to seize opportunities; this allows you to try something new, and to remain positive and hopeful. Tina claimed that she would have earned more at McDonald’s in the USA than she did from her work in China but when the day ended, what mattered was that her job was fulfilling.

Tina spoke about an exceedingly interesting Japanese concept called ikigai “A reason for being”, and stated that everyone should aim to achieve ikigai. It means finding value in your life of the things you purely love. It revolves around love, passion, the satisfaction of work, pay, fulfilment and much more. Tina stated that she has found her ikigai and hopes everyone does too.

Breshna Rani

The event taught me that if we persistently work towards our goal, taking the time to explore diverse work opportunities and find our true interests, it will all come naturally to us. Tina Carlile’s journey was so inspiring to students listening, and who one day seek to achieve ikigai as well.

Thanks to Breshna Rani, LLB2 student and a member of this year’s Lawbore journalist team for writing up Tina’s inspiring lecture.

Breshna is passionate about writing and the arts, and loves to explore different areas of law. 

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