Chaeyld’s story: how Black heritage can affect early careers

Oct 27, 2021 | Diversity | 1 comment

Law graduate Chaeyld Casimir-Thomas explains how her Black heritage is affecting her career.

ISE’s Black Careers Matter report highlights the challenges young Black heritage people face entering the labour market.

22-year-old Chaeyld Casimir-Thomas graduated last year with a First Class degree in law and aspires to be a barrister. Unlike many of her equally qualified White peers, she is still struggling to get her foot on her chosen career ladder.

“I’ve been told how valuable a First Class law degree is, but a year after graduating, I feel as though it doesn’t mean much at all.

“I want to be a barrister and planned to pay for bar school by working and mainly through a scholarship but I wasn’t successful in the scholarship interview, so I will try again this year. I also wanted to do a masters, but quickly realised that I couldn’t find a job that would pay enough to live and study.

In the meantime I’ve been juggling part time work with unpaid internships, but that’s not sustainable so I’ve just secured five months work in recruitment. It’s not law, but I’m taking what I can to get by.  

“It’s been a struggle, especially being rejected from jobs I know I’m qualified to do. I’m not someone who gives up easily, I try different methods, tailor my CV, ensure I always have the right qualifications. 

“The racism I have faced is very subtle yet my heritage has had a big impact on my positioning compared to my White counterparts. Instead of proper feedback I’m just told I don’t fit the role. I can only get unpaid internships. My classmates excel even though they have the same grade or less than me. I see them securing paid internships in the legal industry; perhaps some of their parents are well connected.  

“More discreet racism is hard to detect and therefore makes you question whether to say anything. If universities talked about covert racism, unconscious bias, gas lighting and microaggressions, students would be able to call it out as it would have a name. 

“I think that universities could do more to equip Black students for the real life working world.

“Although my lecturers were great, representation matters. I had no Black lecturers and therefore they have different life experiences to me and it’s difficult to speak to someone who doesn’t come from a similar background.  Also, students are more hesitant to go to counselling due to the lack of diversity in the counsellors available who are mainly White and female.  

“I would like to see unconscious bias training at university as this is the critical stage where people are engaged to learn. It’s necessary for people to know what this is, especially graduates who go on to be in senior positions in society.”  

Read more about the experiences of young Black people entering the workforce as well as the latest data in ISE’s Black Careers Matter

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew Thomas

    I would suggest that Chaeyld look into the Government Legal Department as a way to get her foot on the ladder – they are not just based in London.
    I would also just point out that purely having a good degree is often not enough. Law firms are often interested in the person as a whole, so don’t discount doing other things as a waste of time necessarily.

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