grad school

1st Year Law School Experience: Interview with Yiwei Jin

 

 

We interviewed Yiwei Jin, PFAU Academic writing and applications coach, Yiwei Jin, about his 1st-year law school experience. This week’s episode is meant to give undergraduate students interested in Law School some insights into what it is really like. The lawyers as seen on TV are not necessarily representative of the real experience of studying law or becoming a lawyer. Today, we hope to dispel some of those myths.

 

Yiwei 1 211x300 1st Year Law School Experience: Interview with Yiwei Jin

 

Yiwei has a Masters in Political Science and Asian Studies from the University of Toronto, and has recently finished his first year of Law at the UofT as well. Yiwei has also spent time working as a research fellow for the Asia-Pacific Institute in Vancouver, and is a talented writer, researcher, and academic.

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You have had experience as an undergrad, graduate student, and now a law student. What have you observed is different about these various degrees?

 

Yes, I studied political science in my undergrad and my graduate degree, and also just finished my first year of law school. In general, I would say that grad school is actually not that different from the upper years’ of an undergrad degree because we share a lot of similar courses in graduate school. The content is actually not that different, however, there is a lot more independent research going on in grad school. Undergrad is more about literature reviews. You are surveying the field, taking notes, and you are not really developing your original ideas in exams and essays, but rather summarizing what other scholars’ positions are. While in grad school, the focus is more on research methodology and exploring your own research interests and conducting your own research.

Law school, on the other hand, was quite different. Sometimes students like to say that law school is like high school, especially in the first year, just because everyone takes the same classes. In addition, the examination system, where you sit down for hours and write until it is finished, is very similar to undergrad exams or standardized exams in high school. The evaluation system is kind of similar to undergrad as well. However, once you get to year two or three, you start to have seminars, research courses, and experiential learning, which is similar to graduate school. 

What parts of the Law School application process do you think are relevant to your time in Law School?

 

If we think about the law school application process, there are two parts: LSAT and personal statement. Some people think a high LSAT score is demonstrative of one’s ability to succeed in law school. However, personally, I do not think that it is such an accurate assessment of whether you are fit for studying in law school or not. Maybe the reading comprehension section is similar to the extent that you also are required to read and analyze unfamiliar passages in law school. For example, if you read a business transaction case, you are not going to be knowledgeable of the specifics of the business case, but need to figure it out on your own. You are asked to do similar things for the reading comprehension section on LSAT, so I think there are some parallels there.

On the other hand, the personal statement is something that I think is more useful because it allows you to express your skills and knowledge to the admissions committee. Learning to sell yourself in a single statement is a useful skill for the job application process during and after law school. When you think about job applications after law school and during law school, being able to construct a personal narrative and write within the moments that you are given is a valuable skill set.

 

What would you recommend students who are thinking of Law School consider before applying?

 

There are two things to consider. The first thing is the cost of law school, both financial and personal, as well as the return. For example, UofT has one of the highest tuition fees, which is around 30,000/year. Other institutions might be slightly lower. The cost does not necessarily reflect the quality. I do think you can receive a quality degree in most universities. Keep in mind that law school is a professional degree. At the end of the day, most people go to law school to get a job, but the ability or possibility to get a job and the school’s quality of education are not necessarily correlated. Just because you got an amazing legal education doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be competitive in the job market. I think that’s something students should consider.

Another thing that I recommend before applying to law school is to talk to as many people as you can in the legal field. Like mentioned in the beginning, what people think of being a lawyer is very different from what being an actual lawyer entails. Talk to law students, recent law grads, and legal professional, and ask them about their experiences and whether going to law school is something that you want to do.

Recommended Books and Resources

The Law School Book: Succeeding at Law School by Allan C. Hutchinson

The Legal Writing Handbook: Analysis, Research, and Writing by Laurel Currie Oates, Anne Enquist, Jeremy Francis

 

Thank you, Yiwei, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

 

Missed the podcast? Watch here:

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For more advice about writing, check out our weekly podcast, videos, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

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To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period. 

Janelle Lewis is a social worker in the Toronto area who has experience working with vulnerable populations. While jobs in the sciences are sometimes considered to be “practical” an arts degree provides skills and opportunities, which can be used for careers that make meaningful differences to the community.

LewisJanelle 1 1 768x1024 Pursing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Interview With Janelle Lewis

Over the past two years, Janelle has worked as a Program Resource Worker within the Regent Park community, where she manages intensive cases in supportive housing and provides life skills training and interventions to those experiencing mental health struggles.

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What inspired you to get into social work?

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The first thing would be the area that I grew up in as a child and the second thing would be coming from a working-class family. So, to further elaborate, the area that I grew up in, it was predominantly an area that had a lot more crime than other parts of Toronto and it was home to a lot of working-class, immigrant families. And at the time when I was a child, there was a shortage of social services. So, that definitely made me think about how I could contribute to my community. Just seeing my parents struggle made me think about what I could do for people who are also living in poverty or living in low income, and just seeing how I can make a better impact on them.

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What has been the most meaningful part of your career so far?

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So, currently, where I work in Regent Park, I work with those who experience mental health issues. I would say just hearing a thank you and how I’ve helped them, is honestly the most meaningful part of my career. A lot of my residency experience anxiety and paranoia, and just seeing where they’ve come at the beginning of when we started working together until a few years later and how they’ve developed skills and coping strategies and they’re stabilized and much more independent. As an outreach worker, I work with a lot of people who experience poverty and homelessness. So, for them to share their story about how they got there and the struggles and the struggles that they’re experiencing. It definitely is so meaningful for them to find some sort of comfort or trust to share that story.

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What are some of the challenges of being a social worker?

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I mean, within the social work profession, it can be a very heavy and emotional job just because we’re experiencing a lot of stressful, traumatic situations. Number one would be taking my work home with me. I’ve gotten a lot better at this where I say okay if I end at five o’clock, that’s it. I’m going to be in the present moment, and I’m going to go home. But sometimes I do hear some very difficult stories. And I’m a very sensitive person. So, after hearing some difficult stuff, or just maybe seeing a crisis that I was assisting with, and going home with that I just sometimes need time to reflect on what happened. The second challenge that I would say is wanting to do more with me that people are experiencing homelessness. I want to do more. I wish I could provide housing, I wish I could spend a little extra more time with my residents who are experiencing isolation. But at the same time, I have to remind myself that sometimes you can only do so much.

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What is the process of becoming qualified as a social worker?

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There are so many different ways of becoming a registered social worker. I attended George Brown College for the Social Service Worker programme, which is a two-year programme. And the reason why I decided to go to George Brown College rather than University is that I wasn’t exactly sure whether social work was the career I wanted to go into. I felt that it was very daunting and scary committing for years and to a degree that I wasn’t exactly sure about and it made me feel better knowing George Brown College that they provide placement for both years. So, once I graduated from George Brown, I transferred to York, and I did a double major. So, I double majored in sociology and social work. If you have your bachelor’s in social work, you can stop there and you’re asked to sign up as a registered social worker, but then sometimes people want to continue their education. So, for me, I’m going back to school for my Master’s in social work.

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Thank you, Janelle, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

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Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

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Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about professional development and writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!
As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.
Housing 300x300 Pursuing a Career in Social Work during COVID: Podcast Episode Live!

 

We interview Janelle Lewis, a Program Resources Worker in the Regent Park community of Toronto and volunteer with vulnerable populations. 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

Janelle’s reasons for pursuing social work

Challenges and rewards of being a social worker

The process of becoming a social worker

Attending grad school in the fall

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To get more help with professional development and writing, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Thinking of Becoming a Professor: Podcast Episode Live!
As we enter spring and summer, students are looking for jobs in this uncertain period of COVID. As if job hunting wasn’t hard enough, COVID makes it even trickier. We wanted to share some career-related posts from last years, like this one, that would be helpful to students who are trying to find work during this uncertain period.
PFAU 14 panel 1 1 300x300 Thinking of Becoming a Professor: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview, Danielle Law, PhD, and Associate Professor in Psychology and Youth and Children’s Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, about her journey in academia and her thoughts on finding a career as a recent graduate.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

An insider’s look into the life and work of a busy academic

Advice and things to consider for undergraduate students who want to pursue a PhD

How to find the right topic of research that match the interests of students

How to adjust from undergraduate studies to graduate studies

How can a graduate degree help with career advancement and flexibility

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Transitioning to Grad School: Podcast Episode Live!
Comic 24 panel 4 298x300 Transitioning to Grad School: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview, Dane Mauer-Vakil, and Aravind Rajendran, Masters students enrolled in the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, about how to transition to graduate school.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

Advice for incoming Masters students and students hoping to apply to grad school

How does a graduate degree differ from an undergraduate degree

Recommendation of resources to help prepare for grad school

Tips for applying for grants and scholarships

 

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To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

An Inside Look into the Life of Professor: Podcast Episode Live!
Prof 287x300 An Inside Look into the Life of Professor: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview, Danielle Law, PhD, and Associate Professor in Psychology and Youth and Children’s Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University, about her journey in academia and her thoughts on finding a career as a recent graduate.

HIGHLIGHTS

An insider’s look into the life and work of a busy academic

Advice and things to consider for undergraduate students who want to pursue a PhD

How to find the right topic of research that match the interests of students

How to adjust from undergraduate studies to graduate studies

How can a graduate degree help with career advancement and flexibility

_

_

To get more help with academic writing, application coaching, or professional development, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


All the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Careers in the Arts – Social Work: Interview With Janelle Lewis

 Janelle Lewis is a social worker in the Toronto area who has experience working with vulnerable populations. While jobs in the sciences are sometimes considered to be “practical” an arts degree provides skills and opportunities, which can be used for careers that make meaningful differences to the community.

LewisJanelle 1 1 768x1024 Careers in the Arts   Social Work: Interview With Janelle Lewis

Over the past two years, Janelle has worked as a Program Resource Worker within the Regent Park community, where she manages intensive cases in supportive housing and provides life skills training and interventions to those experiencing mental health struggles.

_

What inspired you to get into social work?

_

The first thing would be the area that I grew up in as a child and the second thing would be coming from a working-class family. So, to further elaborate, the area that I grew up in, it was predominantly an area that had a lot more crime than other parts of Toronto and it was home to a lot of working-class, immigrant families. And at the time when I was a child, there was a shortage of social services. So, that definitely made me think about how I could contribute to my community. Just seeing my parents struggle made me think about what I could do for people who are also living in poverty or living in low income, and just seeing how I can make a better impact on them.

_

What has been the most meaningful part of your career so far?

_

So, currently, where I work in Regent Park, I work with those who experience mental health issues. I would say just hearing a thank you and how I’ve helped them, is honestly the most meaningful part of my career. A lot of my residency experience anxiety and paranoia, and just seeing where they’ve come at the beginning of when we started working together until a few years later and how they’ve developed skills and coping strategies and they’re stabilized and much more independent. As an outreach worker, I work with a lot of people who experience poverty and homelessness. So, for them to share their story about how they got there and the struggles and the struggles that they’re experiencing. It definitely is so meaningful for them to find some sort of comfort or trust to share that story.

_

What are some of the challenges of being a social worker?

_

I mean, within the social work profession, it can be a very heavy and emotional job just because we’re experiencing a lot of stressful, traumatic situations. Number one would be taking my work home with me. I’ve gotten a lot better at this where I say okay if I end at five o’clock, that’s it. I’m going to be in the present moment, and I’m going to go home. But sometimes I do hear some very difficult stories. And I’m a very sensitive person. So, after hearing some difficult stuff, or just maybe seeing a crisis that I was assisting with, and going home with that I just sometimes need time to reflect on what happened. The second challenge that I would say is wanting to do more with me that people are experiencing homelessness. I want to do more. I wish I could provide housing, I wish I could spend a little extra more time with my residents who are experiencing isolation. But at the same time, I have to remind myself that sometimes you can only do so much.

_

What is the process of becoming qualified as a social worker?

_

There are so many different ways of becoming a registered social worker. I attended George Brown College for the Social Service Worker programme, which is a two-year programme. And the reason why I decided to go to George Brown College rather than University is that I wasn’t exactly sure whether social work was the career I wanted to go into. I felt that it was very daunting and scary committing for years and to a degree that I wasn’t exactly sure about and it made me feel better knowing George Brown College that they provide placement for both years. So, once I graduated from George Brown, I transferred to York, and I did a double major. So, I double majored in sociology and social work. If you have your bachelor’s in social work, you can stop there and you’re asked to sign up as a registered social worker, but then sometimes people want to continue their education. So, for me, I’m going back to school for my Master’s in social work.

_

Thank you, Janelle, for sharing the excellent advice with us and our readers! 

_

Book Mentioned in the Episode

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan

_

Missed the podcast? Listen here:

_

_

For more advice about professional development and writing, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

_

To get more help with your assignments, book a 20 minute discovery session with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Careers in the Arts – Social Work: Podcast Episode Live!
Housing 300x300 Careers in the Arts   Social Work: Podcast Episode Live!

We interview Janelle Lewis, a Program Resources Worker in the Regent Park community of Toronto and volunteer with vulnerable populations. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Janelle’s reasons for pursuing social work

Challenges and rewards of being a social worker

The process of becoming a social worker

Attending grad school in the fall

_

_

To get more help with professional development and writing, book a 20 minute discovery call with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.


Both the written, visual, audio, and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

Applying to Grad School during COVID-19: Interview with Yiwei Jin

We interviewed Yiwei Jin, a grad school admissions coach at PFAU: Academic Writing, for our podcast, “Breath in, Write out”. We discussed how the grad school application process has been affected by COVID-19 and what prospective students can do to improve their applications.

Yiwei recently graduated with an MA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, specializing in Asian studies and comparative politics, and is currently interning at the Asia Pacific Foundation in Vancouver. He starts Law School at UofT in the Fall. He loves helping students get ahead by identifying areas of improvement and working to enhance their ability to write creative and effective application letters.

Why don’t you tell us a bit about the changes that you’ve noticed in the grad school application process?

Sure. So, in terms of what’s changed for the grad school application process, there’s a couple of things. The first thing is that some grad schools are evaluating students GPA differently now that some students aren’t having the fall or winter term classes graded as, as they were before. Some of the grading in schools has been affected differently. So graduate schools with that in mind, are already changing that.

What does that mean their grading has changed and like why are they doing that?

Right. So, I think schools are cognizant of the fact that students’ grades are going to be affected. Some schools are just giving pass or fail grades. For students during this winter term, other schools are still giving out the grades, but then the students might not be doing as well, because of all that’s happening. You have to check with the schools and see what exactly they’re doing.

What part of the application process is the most difficult that students might want to focus more attention on?

Right. So, I think by the time that you’re applying to grad school, the transcripts are at least partly finished. You can’t really go back in time and change your course grades, but the reference letters and the writing samples or their personal statements are something that the students can do something about at this point. I think the most important thing that can help them stand out among the pool of applicants, is the personal statement or the research proposal.

What do you think can help someone with their personal statement?

I think the first thing with anything is to start early. It’s a really short piece of writing, but then that shouldn’t make you think that you can just maybe spend a day on it and then be done with it. This is going to be a long writing process because writing about yourself is going to be one of the most difficult things. So keep in mind that this writing process is going to take you through many drafts.

What about content?

A personal statement is what the name suggests. It’s supposed to be personal. You’re trying to showcase some other aspects of who you are, other than your grades. You don’t need to say how diligent of the student you are because that shows through your transcript. It’s a place for you to showcase who you are and the qualities that will make you a good applicant. Always think of things that you have done, actual examples. Start from concrete examples, from talking about what you did instead of who you are.

I was wondering if you could just briefly touch upon the basics of references, about how many someone applying would want to have and what kind?

It depends on the school. Some schools ask for two, some schools ask for four. So, first of all, it’s really important that you check with the school. It also depends on what stage of school you’re in. Someone who’s just going through undergrad can have that mentality of I’m going to get some references. For graduates, it’s really about thinking back in terms of who all of your professors are, the level of how familiar you are with them and how familiar they are with you because it really is a two-way street.

I think there are two basic conditions for a good reference source. The first one is that they need to know you, well, you need to have a body of work that they can refer to. Either it’s a research project that you worked on, discussions in class, or if you went to their office hours really frequently. The second thing is that that professor needs to be established. Ideally, they need to have an established record of teaching other students. If you’re starting out, in undergrad, and this is something you’re thinking about, it’s good to get to know more about these professors, but not in a selfish way because they can figure that out, but try to build a relationship with them.

For more advice about the application process, check out our weekly podcast or subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Both the written, visual, audio and audiovisual content of this post has been created by and is the intellectual property of Lisa Pfau and PFAU Academic Writing. Please do not replicate any of the above content without our consent. However, please do feel free to share this post and its authorship widely.

How to Apply for Grad School during COVID-19: 1st Podcast Episode Live!
GradSchoolapps 1024x205 How to Apply for Grad School during COVID 19: 1st Podcast Episode Live!

We discuss the trials and tribulations of applying for graduate school during a pandemic with PFAU Academic Writing applications coach, Yiwei Jin.

HIGHLIGHTS

Impact of COVID-19 on GPA

What makes a strong personal statement

What to look for in a good reference

Putting together an applications checklist

The art of selling yourself to the right schools

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To get more help with your grad school applications, book a 20 minute consultation with us and start your journey to reaching your full potential on the page, and in life.