First Person Accounts (FPA’s) are meant to provide a first-hand account of Indian graduates who have pursued, or are pursuing, a post-graduate course (LL.M. or otherwise) from different universities across the world.
Dhakshayanee Srinivasan recently completed the LL.M. (Peace Operations, Humanitarian Law & Conflict) from the National University of Ireland, Galway. In this interview, the SASTRA law graduate (Class of ’19) discusses why she chose this particular LL.M., her experiences at university, and a lot more.
That is an interesting choice made with respect to the Irish Centre – what were the factors that led you to choose the National University of Ireland?
The Irish Centre of Human Rights at the National University of Ireland, Galway is one of the premier institutes which not only promotes and conducts research in human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law, but also hops on to the front lines and actively vocates for the same.
This active and engaging nature of the Centre drew me in.
Given your specific interest in international humanitarian law, were there any other schools that you considered? And how early did you begin the entire LL.M. application process?
It all started when as a part of the syllabi in undergraduate studies, public international law was being introduced. Engaging with that subject seemed to pull in a lot of my interests such as international relations, public policy and the workings of the international organizations.
Roughly around the end of the third year, I was bent upon specialising in international humanitarian law and counter-terrorism.
I began researching on different schools at the start of the fourth year. Taking my work ethics and other allied interests into consideration I narrowed it down to five schools: University of Essex, Geneva institute, Trinity College Dublin, University of Kent, and NUIG.
However, I started the application process by the start of final year.
Any advice on how to go about the application itself?
When it comes to applying, there are two components that play a major role: letter of recommendation and personal statement.
The letter of recommendation provides a first-hand account (not only academics but the nature and personality) of the applicant. Thus it makes the selection of a referee crucial. Make sure that they are acquainted with you well enough to describe your strengths and weaknesses.
Work out different combinations when it comes to selecting a referee (two professors, or two employers or one professor and an employer) depending on your background and suitability.
The personal statement as opposed to a statement of purpose, provides an insight into what motivates and drives an applicant. A well thought out and authentic written personal statement, more often than not carries the application far.
How was the LL.M. experience? What were some of the most challenging aspects of the course?
The experience was definitely wholesome. Academically, the discussions with the professors and fellow colleagues during and outside the class was enriching. The LL.M. class consisted of colleagues from different walks of life, which very much added to the quality of discussions engaged in. The seminars conducted by the centre on various contemporary topics, definitely added to the academic experience.
When speaking about the LL.M. experience one cannot negate the cultural experiences as well. Galway is famously dubbed as the student city. The community is really friendly and it adds to the experience.
The challenging aspects of the course, in my opinion is definitely the assessments and workload. The students are expected to turn out research papers as a part of the assessment and more often than not, balancing between the different subject assignment can be quite difficult, unless one starts well ahead.
Early days for now, but how do you think the LL.M. has helped further your own professional growth and development?
In my personal opinion, the LL.M. at the Irish Centre of Human Rights has definitely helped me further my professional growth. The ability to analyse global trends and it effects and impact on the other countries; the ethics when working in a conflict field, and the importance of various international organizations and the need for them has been much highlighted throughout.
What was your reading of the employment opportunities post the LLM program? Does NUI provide any kind of assistance to its graduates when it comes to finding employment?
Taking up international humanitarian law and conflict, definitely presents a unique picture. One is often directed towards working with the respective governments, non-governmental organizations or international organizations such as the UN.
To that extent NUIG has been very helpful in providing me with assistance. One can sign up with the career development centre or be updated by the social media handle of the centre for any opportunity.
At this juncture I must mention my appreciation for the administrators and the Director of the Irish Centre of Human Rights, who make sure that any employment opportunities that might interest the student is immediately mailed to the student.
Lastly, any advice for the Indian law graduate who is considering a master’s abroad?
My advice would be to plan beforehand. Taking up an LL.M. indicates that you are passionate about that subject. A LL.M. abroad will expand your personal as well as your professional circles. Take into account your financial burden as well.
Research upon the university and get in touch with an alumni if possible, as that would give you a first person account as to the workings of the university.