At the beginning of your undergraduate studies, it may be unclear what career path lies ahead. Luckily, your undergraduate studies give you time to explore your interests! It is the perfect environment to foster new passions and learn more about yourself.
Studying in the Criminology and Criminal Justice program at Carleton gave me the unique opportunity to complete a field placement. For one academic year, I had the opportunity to work with a criminal defence lawyer and reflect on whether becoming a lawyer is the right career path for me. My first impression of field placement was that it would be more of a job shadowing experience, where I would be able to observe a professional in their working environment. But to my surprise, I only shadowed them for my first two weeks of training! After learning the ropes, I was able to meaningfully contribute to the lawyer’s cases. I created disclosure summaries and helped the lawyer sift through the facts of cases. I also regularly accompanied them in court and spoke in front of the judge to adjourn matters for clients. Attending court proceedings and communicating with clients allowed me to master skills that I had learned about in the classroom and gave me confidence in my career choice.
This week, as I submit law school applications, I find myself reflecting on the opportunities Carleton has provided me with that have given me an edge in this process. My field placement experience gave me practical knowledge and skills that complement the foundation I have built from my in-class work. Moreover, the lectures that accompanied the placement allowed me to improve my job search skills, enhance my resume and cover letter writing techniques, as well as discover how transferable skills can be discussed in interviews and with future employers. When given a chance to participate in experiential learning, I urge students to take advantage of these important opportunities to build professional experience and networks early on in their post-secondary studies!