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Careers Guide

Ambassador View: How to make the most of your final year at school

Hi everyone! My name is Suhaib Habibullah and I am an Uptree Ambassador and currently a first-year law student. Year 13/S6 is the final year of your school journey and I will give you my top tips on how to make the most of it!

Suhaib Uptree Ambassador

Suhaib is reading law at the University of Manchester having studied history, government & politics, and economics at A-level

His top 3 tips are:

  1. Getting involved

  2. Thinking about your career

  3. Keeping an open mind

1. Getting Involved

This means stepping out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. It does not have to be anything extraordinary or complicated, it could be something simple like getting a part-time job, volunteering, peer mentoring or starting something of your own. This shows that you have the ability to balance multiple different things at once. You may not realise, but you will have gained a lot of skills that will certainly help you develop as a person.

Get out of your comfort zone Uptree

Being proactive and putting yourself out there shows that you have taken the initiative. I was fortunate enough to be able to start my own society when I was in Year 13. Just from this experience alone, I was able to develop vital skills such as communication, teamwork, time-management, planning and much more. It is these soft skills that really help you get an edge over your peers. They cannot be taught but you can develop them over time. The only way you can do this is by stepping out of your comfort zone.

It is never too late to start, better late than never!

One piece of advice I would really want you to take away from this piece is to get rid of the 'tick box' mindset, where you only get involved because you want to show people that you did something. Rather, try and make the most of all the opportunities that come your way.

This is the mindset that will help you in the long term!

2. Thinking about your career

As Uptree says, it is never too early to think about your career. Your final year is the best time to start because you have a lot of time to experience a wide range of industries. You do not have to know what specific industry you want to go into but use this time get a feel of different industries through the great work experience opportunities that Uptree and other platforms hold.

Thinking about your future aim high uptree

Not only are these work experience opportunities invaluable but they also boost your CV. Having international brands such as Clifford Chance, J.P Morgan, IBM etc. on your CV really give you an edge over your peers who may not be taking advantage of these opportunities.

These events are a great way to show that you are serious and proactive about your career. As a result, you can really leverage these experiences to show that you are a stronger candidate in any future application that you make!

Beyond the CV, you have an excellent opportunity to feel what it is like to work in these big companies. Does the work inspire you? Do you feel like this is something you would enjoy

These are types of questions that would be answered by signing up to these opportunities. Remember, no experience is a bad experience! 

Further to this, you will also have the chance to network with trainees and get invaluable advice from leading industry experts. Being able to network is another skill that is impressive so the earlier you start, the better you can get at it. You will never get a better chance to visit these firms and get such great insights, so do make the most of them!

3. Keeping an open mind

My final point is keeping an open mind. Apply to as many schemes and initiatives as you can. This can be work experiences, school positions, competitions, anything! Not only are these great opportunities to improve your CV but they also help you develop life skills. If you get accepted, great! Take advantage of the opportunity and enjoy it! However, do keep in mind that rejections happen, and it is something that everyone experiences (myself included, many times!).

Of course, it is disheartening to be rejected but always look at the positives and what you can gain from this.

Always ask for feedback

Find out where you went wrong and then work hard to ensure you do not make the same mistakes. Remember, rejection is a step closer to making you a better candidate!

keep an open mind Uptree

Moreover, by applying to as many schemes as you can, you will start to get a much better understanding of how to answer what is being asked in application forms, whilst also developing a bank of answers. This is something you may dismiss, but it is beneficial as you can start to recycle those answers when applying for other schemes (I certainly do!), improve the answers and even look back at them for inspiration if you find yourself lacking ideas/points. It certainly is useful to have a bank of answers ready for when you apply for roles in your first year of university!

Talking from my own experiences, I was hesitant to enter a commercial law essay competition. After lots of delaying, I finally got to it and submitted my answer. I am proud to say that I was one of the finalists of the Linklaters Making Links School Challenge 2020! You just never know what could happen unless you apply to it. The regret of missing out and not taking the opportunity that came in your way is simply a feeling you do not want.

I hope these tips somewhat inspire you to really make the most of your final year of school. No doubt it will be difficult but always look for the positives and make the most of the opportunities that come your way. What better way to end your school journey with invaluable experiences that will help you kick on when you enter the next stage of your life? 

Good luck!