Getting your grades and exam results at high school can seem like some kind of 'judgement day'; a final decision on what happens next and what your career will be. In reality, this is far from the end; your career path is only just beginning…

My own path began when I left high school at the end of fifth year, and started a temporary position as a paralegal within a local practice before heading off to the University of Dundee to study for an LL.B in Scots Law.

Towards the end of my degree, I was getting itchy feet and wanted to be more proactive in my legal career, so I joined Grampian Police following graduation. After 15 weeks at police college, I was let loose on the streets of Aberdeen. I progressed quickly in the service, rose to the rank of detective constable and completed a university vocational qualification in Police Service Leadership and Management, to allow me to be promoted to sergeant. Around that time, I was badly injured on duty, and signed off for a year while I had surgery to resolve the damage.

A year is a long time with your own thoughts, and I decided it was time to review my career options, particularly as my husband, who was also in the service, had sustained a serious injury in the job. On my first day back on the beat after recovery, I resigned and decided upon a new career in recruitment for the oil and gas industry. This was not to be as, after a year, the entire industry experienced a major downturn and I was made redundant.

I found myself reviewing my career options again and decided it was time to return to my legal education. At the grand old age of 33, I secured a place on the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice (I already had my degree and legal experience) and headed back to university. I worked full-time in the uni library while studying. After completing the course with a distinction, I accepted a traineeship within a small rural practice, which found me living in a wooden cabin at the top of a hill for the best part of three years.

When the opportunity arose in 2019 to develop my career as an NQ – newly qualified solicitor - at Brodies, and my subsequent application was successful, I joined the planning team and am now finding my way as a planning lawyer; quite different to playing cops and robbers!

Looking back at my career to date, there's a lot of variety, but every stage has helped me to get to where I am today. Working in the police developed my communication and team-working skills; recruitment honed my problem-solving abilities; and working in the university library gave me the research knowledge I needed to return to studying after such a long break.

These are all skills that I still use today in my role as a lawyer. Yes, having the right technical and legal knowledge is important in my job, but the soft skills – the ability to listen, work in a team, communicate clearly – these shouldn't be underestimated. They are all essential qualities that I use on a daily basis when working with clients and my colleagues.

I guess the lesson from my journey is that the path is rarely straight and predictable. And that's a good thing. Every twist, bump, or turn in the road is a step forward – an opportunity to develop a skill, make a useful contact, learn about a new topic or industry.

You may, or may not have a set idea of what you want to do after high school; that's fine, there's no single right answer. Just don't be surprised if your intended path takes an unexpected turn, and never forget that it's rarely too late to change things.