Finding work experience as a distance learner
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Having been a distance learner who transitioned to a campus university, I have noticed that I am continually being reminded of opportunities as I walk through the law school. This is something that is removed as a distance learner. However, that isn’t to say that opportunities aren’t out there. You just have to be a bit more proactive in finding them.
Talk about your degree with passion and enthusiasm. It will get you far! If you have contacts in the legal industry, ask if they might be able to help you out. Even if it’s just a day shadowing, it’s a good way to show that you have learnt what lawyers do day in, day out.
Ask other people to ask
When you’re having a conversation about your degree and the other person says ‘Oh my mum/sister/uncle/etc is a lawyer!’ it would be great if they could see if there are any opportunities for work experience. The worst they can say is no. Building a network is partly about meeting people through other people.
Create a strong cover letter and polish your CV. Send them off to areas that interest you. Lots of people have gained court marshalling experience this way and you may find work shadowing or experience in a high street firm.
Although as a distance learning student you probably have a lot of other things to juggle, I found that I was an ideal volunteer as I could be flexible because I tended to be available when other students were in lectures. The Citizens Advice Bureau is a great place to volunteer for legal work experience – check out my blog on volunteering at university for other ideas.
Legal networking events that you may be eligible to attend are a great way to network with lawyers. See whether your uni offers any legal webinars or whether your local Junior Law Society is running any events.
Non-specific legal events
LawCareersLIVE is obviously the most important one! However, there are other general events that happen throughout the year where you can network. Ask your university careers department about them.
University careers department
Even if you are doing an online course, you will still have access to your university careers department. During my time with the Open University, I got some great advice by organising a careers meeting. Also, even if you are a distance learner, you should still have access to university events, such as law fairs and careers workshops. Some universities are also developing online webinars and screencasts for careers events, talks and skills workshops. See if you can subscribe to your universities careers service newsletter so you don’t miss any events.