Law students, graduating soon? Now what?

images-3The sleepless nights, coffee overdose, work assignments, impossible co-workers, exams, the pressure from school and the everyday life, are finally over. The battle has paid off.

A few months back, despair and stress knocked on my door. Being a very welcoming person, I let them in and we cohabited until I gently showed them the door out. And I believe that, that was one of the best decisions that I had to take in my life. However, it was too early to say that I wouldn’t let in anxiety and fear of the future. For those who have recently finished their study course or are about to, you might be experiencing this phase where you start to question the choices you’ve made, because plans ended up being different from reality.

Yet, whatsoever the path that you follow, it is essential that you recognize the efforts that you have delivered, be proud of yourself and your accomplishments, but also learn from your failures and from the persons that you have mixed with.

From now on, you can start moving and discovering new horizons. Have you always dreamed of travelling? If you can afford it, it is time for you to open yourself up to the world and get to know new cultures. If you wait, you will have less time to take advantage of this opportunity because responsibilities come along the line. So if you can really afford it, take it all in now. TRAVEL. For those who would like to pursue their studies, why not do it abroad?

For those of you that prefer your everyday life and/ or do not have the means to go on a trip, take advantage of your time to engage in activities and develop your multiple talents whether they are related with Law or not. Perhaps you will discover a new passion that could lead you towards a practice that you didn’t expect. Be an adventurer and open yourself up to every opportunity that comes ahead.

Some of you will take the Bar Exams, but whatever your choice, do not forget your social life. A social life is not limited to long and drunken night out; it is about having time for others and understanding that the Bar studies aren’t the worse things that happened to you. Besides, I only have to be sensitive to other people’s needs, those who share the same problems as I do, to realize that my life isn’t as miserable as I see it.

You can also sit down and take decisions that will impact your life, yes your life, because you are the one that chooses the path you want to take. With self-discipline you can go wherever you want to go.

You can decide to :

1) Dream and think big

In fact, since my childhood, I’ve always seen myself going far not only in my studies but also in everything I’d undertake, whatever the plan. When I was a child, I imagined myself saving people in distress and I have to admit that I have lived, at certain times, in a fantasy world. Being the hero of your own imaginary world isn’t harmful. Dream of what is possible with your life and pursue the objectives that motivate you.

Though I am still a dreamer, my dreams have changed. Yes, I still want to be the voice of those that cannot speak for themselves, but I’d like to do so my way and in an efficient way to. I dream of a work opportunity that will allow me to be myself, not lose sight of my values, and mostly that will allow me to make a contribution to the rest.

Writing on my blog has given me and still gives me the opportunity to interview very interesting people that taught me a lot; one has to create what he wants and not wait for someone else to do it for them. It’s all about being an entrepreneur with your LIFE, I would say. Dreaming, planning, creating, innovating and serving. Yes, SERVING.

But be careful, because if your dream is to have the ideal job with a six figure salary (which is not a bad thing itself…) immediately after graduating, then you might want to review your objectives.

2) Use social network with caution

It is indeed possible to post and share the photos taken during our last dinner with friends. We can also share our opinions on issues but we have to do so with caution. The aim is not about pretending to be someone else, yet, if your favourite hobby is gossiping, do not mention it. No employer wants to hire someone that isn’t capable of keeping their mouth shut.
Nowadays, social networking is of great use in creating relationships that can be useful in a professional way. But you have to use them with caution.

3) Follow your heart

It is vital that you focus on the passion that drives you, because it is that passion that will guide you towards your future and which constitutes the energy that you need. If you aren’t interested in social law or anything that has to do with it, don’t feel ashamed. If on the other hand, you have a thing for social law or labor law, assert yourself! Basically, find your niche, a practice area and become an expert in that field.

Maybe you are interested in something different from law, which is absolutely normal. We are not obliged to work in the law field simply because we hold a degree in law. There are so many career opportunities and possibilities. Do not limit yourself, have fun, take risks, make mistakes and listen to your passion.

Follow your heart and not the tendency, reason why keeping in mind one’s focal point is a good source of motivation.

4) Be qualified

Holding a degree is a good thing, but that doesn’t mean that you are qualified; you must have heard that many times. Stand out from the rest by getting involved in activities that you are really interested in, learn from those experiences and mostly, let them shape your personality whether they were good or bad ones. Don’t just sit down and wait for opportunities to reach you. Create and innovate with what you have because we all have something to offer.

Volunteer in an organization or enterprise where you would like to work in the future. This will not only allow you have a realistic idea of what the organization is about, but you will also get see your “potential” future colleagues and thus, you can determine whether the work environment is likely to suit you or not.

Join the executive board of a nonprofit organization: you will thus take place in strategic conversations and learn a lot about the organization. Apply for organizations that motivate you.

Take online courses: I have decided to take a course on international criminal law. Why? Because I was very interested and wanted to learn further about it. My future objective is to take a course on business management because I want to diversify my knowledge. Do not hesitate to take courses in subjects that you are passionate about and that weren’t part of the courses offered in your study course at school. Differentiate yourself. Offer something new to your future employer or to yourself, if you wish to be self-employed.

5) Be real

Do not follow the same path than that of your entourage, because then you don’t have any other option (back to point n°3). Make your own choices and put those choices forward. Nowadays, remaining and asserting oneself also seems to be a struggle. We are often tempted to do the work that brings us the biggest amount of money and not the one that we really like.

Of course, we are all motivated by a secure financial income; reason why when you are negotiating on a salary, you should evaluate your needs before accepting any position whatsoever. But the most important thing is to find a job that will enable you to use your talents. Believe in your dreams, even the most ludicrous ones, and don’t simply live through other people’s dreams. Do not be afraid of failure. You will rise up. Always. And also because life doesn’t give you the choice to do otherwise, which is pretty much a good thing.

6) Invest in relations and serve others.

Invest in relations not because you expect something from others, but because it is essential to develop positive relations with our entourage, friends, colleagues and mentors.
We are often merely tempted to serve others, meaning giving them our time and contributing to their wellbeing. Being ready to serve others should be the cornerstone of our professional relations. As future legal professionals, or whatever the profession that you which to take up (because with a law degree you can decide not to become a lawyer), serving others is the true essence of leadership.

7) Finish what you have started

If like me, you have different plans and projects but always find an excuse to put it off till tomorrow, it’s probably the ideal time to finish what you have started or would like to start. (I am speaking for those who are taking a full year off to engage in other activities, like myself).

Procrastination hurts, at one point or another. Get used to doing what you have to do within a deadline that you have set yourself. This will avoid you unnecessary head aches and sleepless nights.

I am sure I didn’t teach you anything new, that wasn’t the aim, but you’ll have to admit that it is hard to take decisions that we are already aware of.

Congrats and good luck!

Awovi A. Komassi
A Law Graduate soon. In the meantime, I nap a lot and blog at letudiantendroit.com

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