Business Insurance

Interview Series for Business Students: Q&A with Alaya Holloway from UWE Bristol

Education is one of the most influential factors in determining a young person's future, and we want to share experiences of the up-and-coming generation of professionals. Our team at NimbleFins is conducting a series of Q&A interviews featuring top students at different universities across the UK. This interview is with Alaya Holloway, who is studying Law at UWE Bristol.

Tell us one thing about you that’s not on your resume.

When I was part of a dance school in Wales I performed in Disneyland Paris and London Royal Albert Hall.

What has your experience been like at UWE Bristol?

My time at UWE has been a rollercoaster with both ups and downs. It's the place where I have formed my identity and definitely reached my full potential from utilising all that UWE has to offer.

What other schools were you considering, and why did you choose UWE Bristol?

I had my heart set on UWE. This was because of my experience during the open day. I knew that I would fit in with the culture. Not to forget the X Block building...The atmosphere and interior is a great space to envision yourself working as a professional.

What influenced you to pursue the LLB degree course?

In all honesty, I was too scared to take LLB. I enrolled in UWE on a Law and Criminology course because I doubted my ability to take such a complex prestigious degree. Nevertheless, through a coaching workshop held by UWE Equity, I managed to connect with the coach leader who knew a humanitarian lawyer in London who could offer me work experience. I took this opportunity which exposed me to the professional world for the first time. I could envision myself in a similar role to my supervisor. This inspired me and brought on an appetite to work hard to get to this position. This experience gave me the motivation to transfer to LLB.

What has your experience been like with the programme? What did you find especially valuable about your degree course?

Having the opportunity to take extra classes such as 'legal communication – interviewing skills and negotiating’. These opportunities enabled me to learn life skills that would benefit me in everyday life.

What has been most challenging about studying LLB? Is there anything you wish you had known ahead of time?

The most challenging part was definitely adjusting to the high intensity of work which I had not been used to or prepared for by the public school I attended. I wish I could tell my younger self that there are skills and strategies for organisation, time management, and study techniques. If you can master these skills you can hit the ground running from the beginning.

As a first-generation student from a working-class background, I found it challenging to understand new concepts such as land law and equity and trusts. These topics and laws were foreign to me. Despite this, it is an incredible opportunity to learn topics that may support me in the future. For example, I now understand the process of buying property, moving shares or holding trusts for family members to generate generational wealth.

Have you participated in any relevant internships? If so, where were they and can you tell us about your experience?

Hodge Jones & Allen - A week spent shadowing a criminal solicitor. Attended custody and police interviews with a range of clients and assisted with a review of evidence. One day spent with a paralegal, plus insights into the varied role which highlighted the necessary skills. This experience gave me insight into the professorial world for the first time which was essential for my motivation throughout the law degree.

British Red Cross Caseworker Volunteer - 12 months

I supported refugees in integrating into society once they have received their visa. I advocated for the interest of the client and guided them through their issues. This was the first time I began to enhance my skills that would be valuable within the workplace. Here, I learned to manage my own clients and have this type of responsibility.

North Bristol Advice Centre/ law in action module provided by UWE

Here I advocated for vulnerable clients looking to get disability allowance. I assisted clients at hearings in front of a Judge and medical expert.

What are your future career plans and aspirations?

In the short term, I hope to gain a paralegal role at a humanitarian law firm where I can support and advocate for citizens that need assistance using the law. In the long term, I hope to qualify as a solicitor in an area that I am passionate about. I also want to make a positive change by increasing access and improving the representation of talented working-class students within the legal industry.

Alongside this, I hope to scale my business, FirstGens. I hope that all public schools and universities invest in first-generation students by investing in the workshop packages I have developed. These ensure first-generation students, from post 16 to undergraduates, survive and thrive, master their studies, navigate university and graduate recruitment, land a professional role and build generational wealth.

What do you think are the challenges that young entrepreneurs face?

Firstly, managing our time building a future for ourselves with the pressures faced as a young person in today’s market, alongside being creative entrepreneurs trying to develop an idea on a large scale. Organisations and awards that support young entrepreneurs by paying them to work on their projects and business ventures (e.g. Young innovator Award – Prince Trust) can have a long-term positive impact for young entrepreneurs. This allows us to focus on making positive change for our society rather than working part-time in a role that does not align with our end goal. This lightens the pressure of multi-tasking between education, work, our business ventures and the vicissitudes of life.

Secondly, knowing where to get support. If you don’t have any business mentors, role models, or anyone in your family to guide you through the essential start-up and scale-up essentials, it is easy to get lost on your journey and possibly lose faith in your idea and ability. In my belief, highlighting incubator programmes, awards and funding opportunities that support young entrepreneurs within different sectors, educational departments and schools, is essential. So many opportunities may be missed due to the lack of awareness.

For example, I only realised there was a Student Venture department at my university because a friend recommended it at the end of my second year of university. The university can be a very large place for new students, and all the information is overwhelming to navigate.

Have you overcome any challenges as an entrepreneur yourself? If so, can you give us an example?

Knowing my value. Being a creative means you are offering something unique to the world. I found it difficult to know how and what to price my attendance, knowledge and experiences for panel events and my services.

In retrospect, I definitely undermined my worth and it was mentors that guided me on charging.

Secondly, underselling myself. Being a female entrepreneur may have a catalyst effect on this matter. I noticed that I undersell my competencies, ability and service. For example, I took part in my first public speaking engagement and noticed that I didn’t want to appear “braggy” or “talk about myself too much”. In reality, I didn’t emphasise how much great work I was doing.

What is the best entrepreneurship advice you have received?

  • Mentor: If you do not put your creativity into the world, you are being selfish, as your idea may help thousands of people. Your idea is bigger than yourself! Also, if you can get through the monotonous phases, you will be able to get through the rest.
  • Book: "Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers You have the ability to tackle anything that comes your way. Trust yourself, you can handle it.

What advice would you give someone interested in LLB or UWE Bristol?

University is an investment. Make the most of those three years as it will fly by. UWE Bristol offers a range of activities to upskill - grab every opportunity.

For law students, I advise that you seek work experience and insight. This will help you to figure out what work would suit your character after university and it will also increase your motivation by having aspirations and goals to achieve.

I came to university with no legal professionals in my family and I leave with several legal work experiences and deep insight into the legal profession. This was the result of building a diverse network, reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn and using outside-of-the-box strategies to gain work experience. I have now built a network to guide and support me in making key decisions, undertaking mock interviews, completing applications, and people to answer questions regarding the various legal practises.

Do you have any favourite books, websites, or media that you would recommend for someone interested in your field of study?

  • "Women in the Law"—podcast
  • "The Secret Barrister"—book
Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the Founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.