Remembering my time at Colyton makes me smile widely. There are silly memories like trying desperately to avoid being noticed by the staff whilst attempting to rescue a packet of salt and vinegar Walkers that someone had flung onto the roof of the geography room (we taped together some metre rules – it wasn’t exactly the Crystal Maze) or trying hard not to giggle whilst reading aloud as “Feisty Catherine” in our English classes, and then more serious ones like the ‘talking to’ we got from Mrs Coop about the school not just being about getting A grades (turns out that we meant more to her than just a table of results – we were too teenage to appreciate that at the time, of course).
The ‘Mrs Coop talking to’ probably sums up the key ‘lesson’ from my time at the school (if it’s possible to pick one!) – aim high high high, and then work hard to get it. Ultimately though, the message was also about being an individual – I feel I was taught to think critically, and to use and know my own mind. Before I could possibly have realised how valuable it would be in life, I think Colyton had instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and had taught me the value of ambition and taking pride in my work. I strongly believe that the school (or, more accurately, the staff at the school) gave me a head start in my further studies and, ultimately, in my career. It may have felt like a drag at the time (high expectations mean hard work!) but I’m extremely grateful for it now.
I studied Law and French Law at UCL, including a year spent in Aix-en-Provence studying French Law (including oral Law exams in French, ouch!). I absolutely loved everything about university (and thoroughly enjoyed my course) and I am so glad to have spent time in London and abroad. I obviously learned plenty of Law and ‘life skills’ but an unexpected plus point (for me, anyway) was that I was also exposed to such a broad range of people from every possible background (both students and staff). My time at university made me realise how little I knew of the world, particularly the professional world – I met (and still meet!) people with fascinating careers that I would never have imagined existed!
I would strongly recommend a year abroad to any prospective university student. I was really nervous about going but it was one of the best years of my life – fantastic fun and an incredible learning experience.
I trained as a solicitor in a City law firm in London, and I had a fantastic two years. It was such a steep learning curve, and trainees are expected to be ‘client facing’ from day one so it was very high pressured at times. It felt brilliant to finally be working after years of study, and I really enjoyed the fast paced reality of practising law in a commercial environment. The hours were often extremely long, but there was a genuine sense of camaraderie and it was great fun – sometimes even in the early hours! I qualified as a solicitor into my firm’s Commercial, Intellectual Property and IT department and was very happy there.
A friend saw an advert for a job at Warner Bros. in the legal press and flung it on my desk as he was passing one evening saying it looked right up my street – it was! I didn’t think I’d get the job but went for it anyway – my two biggest film and TV ‘loves’ (Harry Potter and Friends) were both Warner Bros. titles so it was easy to persuade them how much I wanted to work there! I find interviews tough and get very nervous but the feedback was good and I was offered the job. I’ve worked there for nearly 5 years now, and I love it. I work on some really interesting and thorny legal issues (which are good for the brain) and the industry is fun and exciting – the occasional red carpet premiere is an added bonus.
From a career perspective, my advice would be to take every opportunity. Meet everyone, do everything on offer (even if you can’t immediately see the value in it) and remember that it’s quite a small world – it’s worth keeping hold of contacts and always trying to make a good impression as you never know where someone might turn up.