Our grantees| Tereza Milošová| The Disadvantage of the Undecided
23. September 2019 Tereza Milošová

The Disadvantage of the Undecided

When applying to Cambridge to study law the only requirement sought after is academic aptitude and genuine interest in the subject. This is because the focus of a Cambridge course, or law course specifically, is purely academic and should in no way be perceived as purely a way to equip students with the skill set necessary to be successful in one's future career. As such, an applicant is not incentivised to think about their future career anywhere in the application process while for students applying to different universities in different countries, career plans might be a topic for an essay or come up in an interview.

Once accepted, students in first year are generally not encouraged to think about what happens after graduation, apart from being sent to a few career talks. But once second year comes around, students who have a clear idea about what they want to do with their degree start applying for internships left and right which may be very intimidating for those that are unsure. Undecided students go from having plenty of time to decide straight to missing out within a couple of months.
The reason for this is not only the academic focus of the Cambridge law course as there are numerous career talks and events happening all around you but mainly the fact that the degree only takes 3 years. Despite only earning students a bachelor's degree, students usually go to work right after graduation unlike students in many other countries (including the Czech Republic). As a result of a shorter time spent at university and an intense workload setting a high opportunity cost of attending career talks it is comparatively way more difficult to find one's passion at Cambridge. For example, recently I read an interview with Lynette Nam from the Justice Centre Hong Kong who discovered what she wanted to do in her 4th year of studying Law in Australia when she got to take Refugee and Migration Law. In terms of law in the UK, that would already be two years too late to send out internship applications et cetera.
Additionally, the majority of career information circulated among undergraduates is related to the paths of commercial solicitors and barristers. If one is not tempted by either of these, it becomes very hard to find out about potential alternatives. I have realised what I wanted to do when studying International Law in second year but I imagine if I chose to study International Law in 3rd year, I would, at this point, be still nothing but lost.
Considering all of the above, my advice would be that students should think about career prospects in first year more than they need to and plan their summer between first and second year accordingly. Furthermore, read up on the electives available during the three years and take those that might lead to a career as early as possible. Most of all, just be aware of the consequences of a shorter degree. Good luck!

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