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Read below to learn about how Shivani used her spare time to volunteer as a Gateway Assessor at Citizens Advice Westminster, eventually taking on a full time role as a debt advisor.
Shivani Kaul graduated with a law degree from London School of Economics, but when she finished her studies, she felt burnt out. She was eager to explore options outside of common corporate law career path. Her first job was as an analyst with a tech start-up in the energy sector. This was a 4-day a week position in Canary Wharf, and so she used her spare time to volunteer with CAW one day a week for six months as a Gateway Assessor. While she enjoyed the challenge of working at the start up and liked the energy sector, Shivani soon realised that the company’s growth would be slow, and that she was missing client-facing work. After 18 months, Shivani took on a new, full-time position that provided an opportunity to help clients develop and manage their businesses. There was more client facetime with this role, but because it was full-time, she had to stop volunteering at CAW. Read More »
Then the pandemic hit, and like so many others, Shivani was forced to revaluate her priorities. With everyone working from home, Shivani realised that she liked her job because of the daily interactions with her team rather than for the purpose of the company itself. Working alone, from home, was miserable, and she began to understand that her work felt more like a “job” than the career she desired.
Shivani’s interest in the law began to return during this period, and so she used the pandemic period to complete her required legal practical course at BPP Law School. As the one-year course progressed, she struggled to align her desire for a meaningful career with societal pressure to undertake a corporate legal position, and in her own words, she had a bit of a “mid-twenties crisis” about what she would do next. Inspiration would come from an unexpected source.
Shivani remembers that one afternoon, she was on a train reading former First Lady Michelle Obama’s autobiography; in the book, Mrs. Obama writes about her own lack of professional fulfilment despite having achieved much success. Shivani identified with the author’s realisation that the pursuit of personal passions and interests would be necessary to fulfil her potential. Mrs. Obama found volunteerism brought her more satisfaction than her very high-level career, and in her books, she encourages others to consider volunteering as well. Shivani had an epiphany that day; she realised that she wanted to practice law with Citizens Advice. Acting quickly, she once again became a Gateway volunteer, and then funded projects started popping up that aligned with both her professional skills and her interests. She was hungry for opportunity. When a role as a debt advisor became available, Shivani joined the team and is now working as both a debt advisor and a generalist. She will soon complete training provided by Citizens Advice that will also allow her to take on employment advising.
Shivani describes her work with passion: “It’s really satisfying. The reason I know that this job is for me is because I was always shy growing up. And yet, when I am at CAW, I feel my most alive. I feel my most confident self when I get to advocate for our clients. I get a lot of joy out of helping people. I would really encourage students and grads to see Citizens Advice as a place to build a career. If you come from a legal background, at a minimum you’re probably someone who likes to help others; law firms aren’t the only service which allows you to do this, so why not broaden your outlook and explore the charity sector? I’ve grown a lot because of Citizens Advice. And it is challenging work. You get thrown in at the deep end, but even that has given me a lot of confidence. Citizens Advice is a great place for both personal and professional development.”