At the end of year 12, a friend encouraged me to apply to do a vocational (VET) course at the Australian Careers Business College (ACBC). It was explained to me that unlike university, the courses provided by ACBC would enable me to get hands-on experience and gain employment. My parents were keen for me to go to university, so when I got my ATAR, I enrolled in a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Communication instead of a VET course. My friend decided to enrol at ACBC and study at university part-time.
While I was in my first year at university, my friend told me that she had already gained employment as a legal assistant. I was surprised that she could gain employment whilst I was still studying theory at university. In my second year at university, I started to become unsure about the degree I was pursuing. It seemed to be all theory and assessments and did not provide any hands-on experience in the field. I tried applying for Legal Assistant and Junior Paralegal jobs but was told I didn’t have the necessary skills or experience for these roles.
In my third year at university, I became more disillusioned with my law degree because I wasn’t getting the experience I needed. I spoke to law graduates who told me that they couldn’t get jobs because they didn’t know the basics of filing legal documents and legal office procedures. I really wanted to get my foot into the door of a law firm, so I decided to enrol into a Diploma of Legal Services at ACBC. Despite being in my third year at university, I soon learned that I didn’t know many basic things needed for entry-level work in the legal industry.
ACBC organised work placement for me at ‘Re-Quest International Immigration Law’. Getting hands-on experience, which I wasn’t able to do at university, made me realise that I enjoyed the legal field after all, therefore I continued studying my law and communications degree part time whilst completing my Diploma at ACBC. In addition, a few weeks into work placement, I was offered employment with my host employer.
Having more confidence, I started to look at other legal positions and I applied for a full-time position at the law firm ‘Clarence Chambers’. I applied for the position but was not sure that I would get the job. The Careers Advisors at ACBC helped me prepare for this interview. The people at Clarence Chambers told me that they were very impressed with my cover letter, resume, and my experience and knowledge of legal office procedures. As a result of the Vocational Education and training and industry experience gained through work experience, the firm offered me a position to start once I graduate from ACBC.
I know that studying a VET course at ACBC gave me a step up into the industry. I gained the skills to work in all entry-level areas of law and by the time I finish university I will have much more experience than others who have completed only a university degree. My Vocational course enabled me to learn things I would have never learned in university and to get paid work was a huge bonus. The course gave me hands-on experience and practical skills, and made me more employable. It made all the difference in setting me apart from other job applicants.
Based on my experience, my parents have now seen the benefits of vocational education and are planning to enrol my younger siblings in this pathway.
ACBC Diploma of Legal Services graduate 2017.