By Zoe Chan, LLB Law Graduate 2017, originally from Hong Kong
I have just graduated from UoB with a LLB in Law – and I have enjoyed every second of it. The community is very inclusive and I got to meet people from all over the world, from Singapore to Nigeria. The support for international students, from both the university and the Guild, got much better throughout the years. In my last year, I even volunteered to be a Global Buddy to help new international students!
After graduation, I went on 3 separate work experience placements. I found out about all of these opportunities through Birmingham Law School’s career department CEPLER. I got to do very hands-on paralegal work with local firms, and met a lot of inspiring professionals in the legal field.
My current work experience placement is actually an extension of a pro bono project I was involved with during third year. Action4Justice is a collaborative project between NGOs, including Oxfam, Avocats Sans Frontières and Greenpeace, to provide accessible legal information to vulnerable people around the world. As the project is very much in its infancy, I have the opportunity to a good variety of work, ranging from legal research and editing, to producing promotional videos and launching a volunteer engagement campaign. I also got to work in a Chambers and the Oxfam GB headquarters.
As I knew how tough the legal recruitment market is, I started early with career planning. Back in first year, I participated in the Birmingham Project, and gained great experience collaborating with students from different disciplines. I booked many CAL appointments, and got fantastic, practical advice on how to progress at each stage of my university career. I signed up for extra-curricular activities to boost my employability, and completed the PSA (Advance). I was also part of the mentoring scheme, and met a professional that has been in the legal profession for longer than I was alive(!) – we stayed in touch and he continues to be a great support.
I also attended many talks on career choices. I met Ellen in several talks targeted towards international students, including a particularly practical one, where she invited a lawyer to come in and explain how visa switching works. I also got to meet other international students in the same boat.
Even though I haven’t had much luck in securing a visa-qualifying job, I am still in touch with an advisor from Careers Network, as the support continues for 2 years after graduation. I managed to secure a mini-pupillage in October, and am continuing my job search with the encouragement from my advisor.
I wouldn’t sugarcoat how difficult it is to find visa-sponsoring employment in the UK after graduation. However, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your employability; and Birmingham has a fantastic, award-winning team to help you do just that.