Jennifer Short-Martin

Year of graduation: 2016

Current Employer: Stephens Scown LLP

Current Job Title: Legal Assistant

Current Location: Falmouth

“Studying at the University of Plymouth has given me the confidence and realisation that I can really achieve whatever I put my mind to.”
Tell us what you have been doing since completing your studies.

Once I finished the academic year I managed to get four days’ work experience at Stephens Scown in May 2016. After that, I was asked to apply for a legal secretary/assistant job in St Austell. I started working there in July and then had a month off to go to America with my family which I had already planned and booked before starting. Since then I have been working at Stephens Scown and applying for further study at the University of Plymouth to attend the GDL course in September 2017.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

After graduation I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t sure that I could face another two years of study away from home and then a further two years as a trainee to become a solicitor, but working in a legal environment has reaffirmed to me that I should keep going and finish what I started.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

Balancing the pressures of raising a young family with my desire to pursue my own career.  

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

My career still feels in its infancy. Recently, however, I secretly gave every one of the 81 people in my office a tube of love hearts on Valentine’s Day with their names on saying, ‘love from Cupid,’ and they still don’t know it was me.

What, if anything, would you do differently if you could?

I probably would have preferred to have done the LLB rather than a Law and Business degree to have saved myself time and money, but hopefully I won’t feel the same in the future about it and be glad I did business with law.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get into the same line of work?

Work hard. Get some practical experience if you can, which I know can be difficult. Don’t give up. Make contacts with people who work where you want to work, whether via LinkedIn or personal contacts you may have. Knowing people within the place you are aspiring to work really makes a difference and helps you get a foot in the door.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

I wasn’t particularly studious as a teenager and I quit my A levels at 17. Prior to my degree I didn’t know I was academically adept and the more I got good grades the more it spurred me on to work harder to get the best possible marks I could. Studying at the University of Plymouth has given me the confidence and realisation that I can really achieve whatever I put my mind to. Getting a First in my degree was not something I would have ever thought I could achieve, particularly whilst trying to juggle raising a young family, maintaining a job, a mortgage, and having to travel two hours each way to university every day: but I’ve done it.

What is your favourite memory of studying at Plymouth?

Handing in my last essay and graduation, though not in a clichéd sort of way. My personal tutor sought me out on my graduation day to meet my husband and family, to tell them how proud she was of me for all I achieved. That really meant a lot to me as I know that she meant it sincerely and knew how hard I had worked.

Do you stay in touch with other University of Plymouth alumni or lecturers?

Yes, I still speak intermittently to my personal tutor, usually when I need a reference or to quiz her about progressing my studies.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with the University of Plymouth, and why?

The difference between the University of Plymouth and colleges has to be the knowledge and expertise of the lecturers who teach there. Plymouth is particularly attractive and important for people who want to progress academically but are tied to or have commitments in Cornwall.  

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

Read up before a lecture and attend as many of your lectures as you can; for me, that was what I felt made the difference between really knowing the subject and not. It also helps you to remember things rather than just constant laborious reading, which in law was a lot.

Bright red lifebuoy on the pier