Iyarna Schuler credits a brush with the law for putting her on her chosen career path.
The 17-year-old Waitara High School head girl this year took part in the Accelerator programme, run by Taranaki Futures in partnership with the MP for New Plymouth. The internship and mentoring programme is for senior secondary students who wish to discover more about a profession or area of business and commerce.
“I was a bit unsure about what I wanted to do after finishing school,” Iyarna says. “There’s quite a bit of pressure when you get to year 13 with people asking ‘what are you going to do next year’ and I wasn’t really sure. I know there are a lot of people going through the same thing.
“I thought the Accelerator programme was a chance to see what the options are and to learn from and get advice from people in business.”
An interest in criminal law led her to an internship with New Plymouth barristers and solicitors C&M Legal, with partner and crown solicitor Cherie Clarke as her mentor.
Accelerator 16 students and mentors at prizegiving ceremony
“For nine weeks I went to C&M Legal for an hour a week and learned about what lawyers do,” Iyarna says. “I went to court and sat in on a trial, and was able to look over some case files. It gave me a really good idea of what it’s all about.”
By the end of the Accelerator programme, which also included weekly sessions where the students listened to and were led in small groups by experienced business coaches, Iyarna says she had a clear view of her future career path.
“I decided law wasn’t for me and I have now decided to go to AUT in Auckland and do a Bachelor of Communication, majoring in radio and minoring in advertising, before doing a teaching diploma.”
Iyarna says she would probably still be in a career black hole had it not been for the Accelerator programme.
“It definitely helped me make decisions about my future. Cherie was amazing. She gave me a lot of advice and was interested in who I was and what I wanted to do. Even when I decided not to do law, she still offered for me to come back for holiday placements.”
Cherie says C&M Legal has a strong focus on youth and is always open to young people getting an understanding of what the profession involves.
“Often if people don’t have a foot in the door it can be hard for them to get into law, but the Accelerator programme really opens it up for them and gives them a chance to see what it’s like,” Cherie says.
“Iyarna was great – really mature and confident, and lovely to have in the office. She would be a great criminal lawyer if she ever chose to come back to it as a career option.”