Participating in the MLS Mentor Program has been a simple way for alumni mentor Rachel Tucker to pay it forward, and she helped student mentee Jo Wang secure a coveted legal clerkship.
The MLS Mentor Program opened Rachel Tucker’s eyes up to a world of career opportunities outside the traditional legal career path. Now a Director in KPMG Australia’s Deals, Tax and Legal division (specifically Performance and Reward), Rachel credits her career success in part to participating in the program as a student mentee.
“I had some fantastic mentors, successful women with varied careers who were excellent role models for me as I looked to start my career,” she says. Now, as an alumni mentor in the same program, Rachel is helping the next generation of students navigate the ever-changing legal job market.
“My mentors, both at university and in my career, have provided really invaluable guidance. I wanted to be an alumni mentor to give back and do the same for others.”
The Melbourne Juris Doctor sets students up for a range of exciting careers, and Rachel says mentoring is a great way to expose students to careers they might not know much about. “Speaking to professionals who had used their law degrees in more generalist roles (such as consulting) was very helpful for me to hear about when I was a student. If my mentees are interested, it’s something I’m happy to share about my own experience too.”
Rachel’s mentee, JD student Jo Wang, says she specifically requested to be mentored by somebody who was not working in a traditional legal role at a traditional law firm. For example, Rachel is both a practicing lawyer as well as a consultant at a multi-disciplinary firm.
“I knew I could get abundant resources [on commercial law] without being proactive. But mentoring can really offer insights on the diversity of legal professions.”
Forging a new professional network
Jo enrolled at the Melbourne Law School after previously working as an international consultant and partnership specialist in Beijing and Vienna. During her time working on international development projects at the United Nations in Vienna, she discovered that law was a “really potent toolkit” for advancing society.
“Moving into the legal profession was a big transition for me. Upon relocating to Australia, I found myself facing the added challenge of navigating this new path without a support network in place,” she says.
Jo applied to be a mentee in the MLS Mentor Program to kickstart her new professional network. “Being a mentee helped me to form contacts in my social network, and essentially gave me a support network from scratch,” she explains.
Jo found the program so beneficial that in her penultimate year she signed up as a mentee again, and she was matched with Rachel. Together, the two have met regularly for catchups over coffee, discussing Jo’s career goals and her university experience. Rachel has also reviewed Jo’s CV and cover letters to help her apply for jobs and offered advice about the application process. With Rachel’s help, Jo was successful in receiving a highly coveted clerkship position.
“We get on really well, and it’s just lovely to catch up and hear how she’s going at law school and how her applications are going,” Rachel says. “And she was successful in getting a clerkship, which was very exciting!”
While Rachel’s help with applying for jobs was invaluable, Jo also says she has benefited from having a role model who she can have genuine, informal conversations with.
“Rachel has been amazing. She has not only shown me what it’s like to be a female leader in a competitive working environment, but she’s a very grounded person and really approachable. She has been a source of inspiration that inspired me to give back to the community and help others as much as I can.”
The MLS Mentoring Program connects Juris Doctor and international Melbourne Law Masters students with law professionals from within the university community. While the program benefits all students, Jo says it is particularly helpful for international students such as herself.
“I would recommend the MLS Mentor Program to everybody, especially international students. When I entered law school, many of my local student friends already had work experience in the field. But that’s not the case for all international students. For them, the mentoring program can be extra valuable.”
A simple way to give back and develop key skills
Not only has participating as a mentor been a good way to give back, but Rachel says it can help alumni in their own careers. “Throughout your professional life, you’re going to need to mentor junior employees as you move through your career. The more experience you have mentoring different people and helping them work through their challenges, it’s just a great skill set to have for your career as well.”
While some alumni might think mentoring requires a large time commitment, Rachel says it can be as simple as going out for coffee once a month, and helping to review CVs or offer tips for exam preparation.
“I would highly recommend participating in the MLS Mentor Program. It’s not a significant time commitment, but it comes with a significant reward. I just love the idea of being able to pay it forward.”
Do you want to impart your knowledge and learn from your peers? Learn more about the MLS Mentor Program.