Ammar Khan (Law 2016)

Exeter graduate realises a dream

Ammar Khan graduated from Exeter with a degree in law in July 2016.  He has just started training as a solicitor at a global top 10 law firm, realising a long-held ambition.  Here he tells his story in his own words.

I am a law graduate from one of the UK’s top universities, and I am about to begin training as a solicitor at a global top 10 law firm based in London. This has long been my ambition, but it certainly hasn’t always seemed likely that I would achieve this dream job.

I come from Dudley, a predominantly working class town known for its industrial past and for producing Lenny Henry rather than esteemed members of the legal profession. Five years ago I was asked to leave my school sixth form after receiving poor results in my AS Levels. This helped me to decide that I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a place at one of the country’s best universities so I could become a lawyer.

I returned to studying, this time at Dudley College. I made good friends and was lucky enough to be supported by a compassionate and hard-working teacher. I got good results because I worked hard. But in the competitive world of law this isn’t enough. I can be extremely persistent and used this tenacity to secure really useful work experience. I’m never put off when people don’t return my emails or letters, and I’m grateful that firms and individual solicitors have been so accommodating in giving me the chance to experience what the job entails. I’ve used the money from a part time job to buy myself a suit and cover the costs of travel.

I cannot stress just how much I learnt from these work experience placements, law in practice is very different to the theory I learnt in my A-Level class. My eyes were opened to a new and interesting world. It made me even keener to be part of it and so I worked harder than I had ever before.

Having mentors has also been very important to me, and I’m lucky that work experience has allowed me to find people who have stayed in touch, offered me advice and made me aware of opportunities.

I’ve realised you don’t get anything unless you ask for it. People think there is a hierarchy, and that stops certain people from getting on, but I’ve found that is not necessarily true, I believe we are currently living in an era where social mobility is encouraged. The Government, legal firms and universities want people to thrive and do well if they work hard.

From speaking to friends I think many young people whose parents haven’t studied for a degree, or haven’t visited a university campus, feel intimidated by the idea of higher education. This puts them off applying, even though many are talented and should be aiming to study at a top university. They don’t feel it is something they can or should do. I was the first student from my college to study at the University of Exeter. This shouldn’t be the case. University gives you so many opportunities and it has certainly broadened my horizons.

I want to tell anyone who was in my position, who faced obstacles or feel like what they want is impossible, that they should follow their dreams, be humble and ignore those who try to put them down. You have to prove yourself through your actions rather than your words. You can achieve your ambitions despite coming from non-traditional backgrounds, you just have to work hard, be confident and ask for what you want in life. Nobody is going to seek you out and just give it to you.

Date: 16 November 2016

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