Claudine Adeyemi is a property litigation solicitor working in a large firm in London. In 2014, she founded The Student Development Co, an organisation which provides career support to young people.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a solicitor specialising in property disputes and I am the founder and CEO of The Student Development Co. I am 25 years old and a die-hard Arsenal fan!
What inspired you to choose a career as a solicitor?
It was a decision I made when I was around 11 years old. I thought about what jobs I could do as a grown up. I thought about being a doctor then decided I wasn’t much of a fan of blood and switched to being a lawyer. What followed is that I quickly realised that it was the perfect decision for me. During secondary school, I heard things about the type of person you needed to be to become a lawyer – organised, enjoy debating, reading, writing – and found that these were all things I both enjoyed and was good at. I then chose GCSE’s and A Levels that I thought would be useful to pursuing a career in law and at that stage started to become fascinated by law and the way in which it affects and is related to everything that we do.
What inspired you to start The Student Development Co and what is it all about?
The Student Development Co. is a non-profit organisation which provides career related support to young people aged 16 to 24. I have always been passionate about the development of young people and providing them with a platform of support that I would have benefited from when I was younger. I was previously running another non-profit organisation – Young Black Graduates. This involved organising themed networking events. At the time, there was a lot of emphasis on entrepreneurialism, yet I was constantly being approached by students who were adamant that they wanted a professional career and were not interested in starting a business. I then thought that I should and could provide support that focused solely on supporting young people with their careers, especially given that I am so passionate about my own.
The SDC has grown to now serve young people across the UK through structured initiatives such as Primary Colours Academy (series of soft skill workshops for university students) and the Skills & Insights Programme (a series of events for 16 to 18 year olds which involves them participating in sessions at the offices of our partner companies). In addition, we have grown a significant online presence, from the tips, guidance and support on our social media and blog to our online initiative, Ask A Professional, which gives young people an opportunity to ask career related questions.
Where do you see Student Development Co in the next five years?
Growing. I’d like us to reach out to and support as many young people that need our support as possible. I am also intent on ensuring that we continue to not only serve young people but be an organisation that is run by young people. We are building an incredible team of young volunteers to run The SDC and always looking for more, so we are always keen to hear from young people who are interested in getting involved!
What does a typical day consist of for you?
Waking up before the crack of dawn to work on The SDC for around an hour. Then going into the office for my day job. Not sure that I really have a “typical” day at work. I deal with such a variety of cases that each day is very different. I often come home and work on The SDC in the evenings, or chill out watching one of my boxsets or cooking dinner.
What has been the key ingredient to your success?
Goal setting. One of my biggest fears is failure. That can sometimes prevent you from taking risks, but for me, it motivates me to achieve. Whenever I set a goal for myself, there’s something within me that refuses to let me not achieve it. This process has become a motto for me – Set goals. Achieve. Repeat.
How have you kept yourself motivated?
My passion keeps me motivated. It’s very time-consuming and sometimes draining to run The SDC alongside being a lawyer in a demanding and busy law firm. But I am passionate about both The SDC and my career and for me that is more than enough to keep me motivated to succeed with both. With The SDC in particular, the moment when you see the impact that the work you do or the support that you provide has on a young person, it is so moving and reassuring that you have absolutely no choice but to continue. I almost feel that I have a duty to serve the young people in our society.
What advice would you give young Nigerians wanting to enter the legal profession?
Aim high. Achieve higher.
Don’t be put off from going for it just because ethnic minority groups are underrepresented.
Do not underestimate how much hard work is required to be a success in the profession.
Think outside the box – it’s a very competitive market so you really need to think about how you set yourself apart from other candidates.
How do you think Nigerians can better network and collaborate with each other?
LinkedIn is a great platform to grow your professional network but I don’t think everyone uses it as effectively as they could. People should try and ensure that their connections are what I like to call “active connections” – people that you have made contact with in the last few months and stay in contact with.
What can communities like Nigerian Networking Community do to facilitate this?
Grow your presence on LinkedIn and encourage Nigerians to come together at events or online through webinars or debates.
What’s next for you?
More of the same. I’m working on creating an app for The Student Development Co which will help the organisation to grow so that we can reach more young people in the UK. I’ll also be continuing to enjoy property law and learn as much as I can so that I can deliver the best service to my clients.
Claudine can be found on: