Sounds kind of crazy right. Getting into law school, especially the best one in your country, is by no means a small achievement. You’ve gone through the endurance test that is the LSATs, you’ve spent hours nit-picking through your applications, and you’ve spent countless all-nighters trying to get through your classes with a not too mediocre average.
Universities work in the unique industry of selling dreams and promising success. Yes they’ll make you work hard to get in, and they’ll add a lovely amount to your student debt to do so, but once you’re in, they relinquish almost all liability and you’re kind of on your own. What other business is able to capitalise on revenue in such a way, without actually having to deliver a tangible result for the outcome? Yes, they’ll make sure that you have access to the “best lecturers” and the best “global perspectives”, but at the end of the day, they only need to provide you with a piece of paper at the end that cost about 1/10,000th of what you paid, and validates that yes, you do indeed have the capacity to regurgitate information, albeit with a short shelf life which ends with you putting your pen down at the end of an exam.
I began my early quarter life crisis when the structured learning stopped; what many people experience as soon as they finish their first degree. All of a sudden, the world was my oyster and I could do whatever I wanted, but funnily enough my degree hadn’t equipped me with any real passion for what I’d majored in and the only thing I knew was in fact it was exactly what I didn’t want to do with the rest of my life. That’s where law school comes in.
You’re bright and talented and know if you work hard you can achieve. Law school sells you the dream, you picture something Suits-esque, then quickly tell your imagination to pipe down as that obviously can’t be reality…so then you picture power suits, long hours where your hair never looks out of place, and something like a superman cape where you get to save the world and validate your existence through a successful, well remunerated and satisfying career.
Woops… You’ve drifted back into Suits land.
My offer to law school was a lifeline to pull me out of the accounting world (in which I already had two and a half years of experience from a reputable firm), and was going to give me direction. I had two weeks to decide the fate of my life.
This is where some valuable lessons can be learnt.
1. Buy yourself time
I was in… but I had my doubts…
– World renowned? Yes.
– Escape from accounting? Yes.
– Expensive? You bet.
– Job prospects post-graduation? Questionable…
– What I wanted to do with the rest of my career? I got no freaking clue…
So I deferred for a year… a decision that proved to be priceless.
Because for me personally the pros and cons weren’t adding up, and enrolling in law school in order to not have to do something else isn’t a good enough reason to do it.
2. Lack of direction isn’t a bad thing, own it.
So I started 2015 pretty directionless and unsure of what the year ahead might bring. The dreaded question of “so what are you up to this year?” was answered with umms and ahh’s and “yeh it’s a work in progress…” I’d left the security of my previous role, and had the security of potentially having law as an option for next year but knew my heart wasn’t really in either of those. That’s when the job search began.
3. Seek or you shall not find
I browsed through search thread after search thread, through every industry that had ever interested me and without any filter but location and found roles I didn’t know existed and companies I’d never heard of, and through all that found what I was looking for. I put in applications for everything I felt remotely qualified for and interested in, even if I didn’t necessarily tick all their boxes. The more recruitment processes I went through, the more I learnt about myself and was able to reflect on everything I’d achieved in the last four years since school had ended and everywhere I wanted to head for the next four. Amongst it all, the stars aligned, and I found the perfect gig to sink my teeth into that ticked all the boxes I didn’t realise needed to be ticked.
The new role excites both my interests and works to my skill set, and is for a company whose culture fits with my own values. Match made in heaven right. Now the next three years, instead of adding to my student debt and sacrificing earning potential, I’ll be moving up in my career, or at the least being another step closer to knowing what I want from it.
Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t actually about law school (it’s a metaphor dahhhlings). You could replace law school and the LSAT, with medicine and the GAMSAT, an MBA and the GMAT or any other post graduate study that you’re considering enrolling in because you can’t think of anything better to do.
Of course if your passions lie in that area, and you can see yourself being more qualified and employable due to further study, then go for it!! But also consider, that employability in today’s generation is no longer linked to holding a tertiary qualification, and getting some work experience, starting and potentially failing at a business venture or travelling the world/taking some time off to discover your passions is just as likely to convince an employer that you know yourself and understand the role and why you might want to be there.
We can no longer afford to be the generation that aspires to be doctors, lawyers and engineers like our well intentioned parents may desire. Now is the time for the movers and shakers, the innovators and game changers. We have more opportunities than ever before, and with that comes a whole other set of pressures and expectations we put on ourselves, as the bar for success gets set higher and higher, and mediocrity simply does not remain an option.
Success is defined differently for everyone, so work out what your framework looks like, and then go forth and try, fail/succeed, and repeat until you’re satisfied.