Paralegal and Geography graduate Rhea on her career following graduation
Rhea Kamath graduated from BA Geography in 2020 and has since embarked on an exciting career, now working as Paralegal and soon becoming a trainee solicitor. In her blog post, she discusses how her Geography course has opened doors for her and how the Department of Geography at Manchester supported her along the way.
On my decision to study Geography
I decided to study Geography at Manchester because it let me explore various topics from many perspectives and scales. I have always been interested in a range of topics and wanted to continue with my degree.
I had done STEM and humanities subjects at A-Levels and had realised how vital that dual perspective was to me, which is why the mixed BA and BSc programme appealed. It’s increasingly important to combine both the scientific and societal perspectives to understand our world, especially with looming issues like climate change. Geography at Manchester allowed me to develop this way of thinking.
On my career so far
My career has taken many twists and turns, and I never went into Geography wanting to become a lawyer. In fact, I started off wanting to work in research or the public sector, and I did internships in both. I also worked in the consulting industry, but none of those roles entirely appealed to me. When I started talking to solicitors, I realised it combined my interests for research and academia with a fast-paced and team-oriented environment. In my third year, I began applying for training contracts (the legal equivalent for a grad scheme) and other legal roles and got one in early 2021.
Since then, I have completed my law conversion course (GDL) and am taking a break before beginning my Legal Practice Course. I’m currently working as a Banking Paralegal in a law firm assisting various solicitors who are working for major UK Banks.
On my current role
As a paralegal, I assist solicitors in completing various tasks, which are often research-based, reading a range of sources. I spent a lot of my degree conducting research, especially literature reviews, which has equipped me to quickly read and summarise large pieces of technical information.
My role is very varied, and I’m often switching between projects with very different scopes. The mixed BA and BSc programme and the variety of scales in Geography also required me to switch my way of thinking and writing, which is a skill that I rely on heavily.
On how my course influenced my career progression
One of the reasons I picked Geography is because it opened many doors for me, career-wise. The Manchester Gold Mentoring programme also put me in touch with people who had recently graduated in Geography and pursued a range of careers. I knew I could go into anything from academia to investment banking because I knew many people who had, and I knew I could ask them for help quickly. Additionally, I was also encouraged to take free choice options in subjects outside of geography which allowed me to take modules in Economics and Criminology and widen my skill set.
On my most surprising takeaway from my course
One of the most surprising takeaways is the unexpected skills I picked up doing human geography research. I chose to undertake interview-based methods, interviewing everyone from local tourists to business owners in Crete to government officials in India. It has given me the ability to talk comfortably to anyone, translate complex topics and provide a great deal of empathy. The law is an inherently people-based profession, and you need to communicate complex ideas quickly and be very understanding of an individual client’s situation. It’s a skill I have only recognised a full year after graduating but has been invaluable for my career and personal life.
On my advice to prospective students
I would always tell a new student to take every opportunity possible, whether it is taking free choice subjects or joining a society. It helps you develop a wide range of skills that you can apply to your degree and career. I’ve also made some lifelong friends from these societies that I would not have made otherwise.
As an international student, I was scared of taking a subject that did not have a career directly in the end. However, the support I got from my department and the university as a whole, whether it be career information or upskilling, gave me the confidence that my degree could and will take me into a range of places.