Alumni Interview: Somil Kumar

1. You’ve recently swapped a corporate job for a course on human rights at Geneva, congratulations. Was the corporate stint always meant to be just a stint?
Ans. When I took the job, I didn’t really have a time frame in mind. Around the 9th or 10th semester (wow, that is not as long ago as the word around makes it seem but I digress), I knew I wanted to do an LLM. So, I figured that Trilegal could be a year or two year long stint. I wanted to save money (did not happen) for LLM.

2. Why’d you choose Trilegal as your interim workplace? Any specific allure?
Ans. They were the first to make an offer. And I had heard that it was a good place to work at. Even rumors that they had an office bar (not true).

3. Is the decision to work at Trilgal something you look back with regret?
Ans. I might have said that I did. Might have even felt regret on a few days. But on the whole, no. My team was fantastic and they were very considerate to me. I worked with people who are perfectionists and really really good at their jobs. I suppose if I could work as well as them a few years down the line that would be a good place to be. So, in that sense, no regrets. Obviously I wish I had realized earlier that the job wasn’t for me, but life.

4. What was the proverbial last straw which sparked the transition?
Ans. I was doing a terrible job. For a few months. Not liking one’s job can lead to that although that is no excuse, really. And then, one day in April I missed a basic search. I thought I had run the search. I hadn’t. Didn’t care enough to take 30 seconds to recheck. Client was sent bad advice. I realized a little later. Got rightfully told off. And in the middle of being told how idiotic I had been, I thought – Do I give a fuck? I did not. So, no point staying for the bonus. I quit 20 mins later. On a separate note, I was given the bonus in spite of quitting before the date.

5. Was there are ‘harsh reality’ which jarred your experience?
Ans. Not really. Linesh always said that you should only do things that you can later on find acceptable when looking into a proverbial mirror. Smart boy, Linesh. (For the uninitiated, he was my roommate in college. I am the funnier one.) So, when I thought about continuing just for the bonus, I eventually could not accept that as being a good decision. This isn’t to say that I hadn’t decided to wait earlier. Just that I could not anymore.

6. What’s something that you’ll carry forward from the exposure your corporate job has given you?
Ans. Don’t do something unless you are absolutely sure you want to. You can’t take a corporate job thinking ‘dekhi jaayegi’. It doesn’t work out well. You suck at work. And it messes with your head.

And the perfection at job thing in question 3.

And that eating dinner on clients’ money when you stay late is cathartic.

And that you can’t sleep at 4 AM (5, really) every day and hope to make it to work on time. I didn’t.

7. What’s the worst corporate experience you’ve had?
Ans. The routine. The late nights. The entire thing. Minus the people. Ok, some people qualify as worst experience also.

8. We hear you’re interested in climate change and force migration – could you tell us a little about issue?
Ans. Read This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. But, if you don’t have the time for that, then this is a short summary of the current predicament. Because of increased global warming, you have radical changes in weather patterns and also rising sea levels. In the short term, these are affecting the salinity and fertility of soil in areas that are traditionally lower than sea level or are at sea level. Plus, it affects the groundwater making it unsuited to human use. Medium term, large swathes of land (scientists approximate 20% of the world’s coastal landmass) will be submerged. This includes areas on the mainland and also includes several states whose land is comprised of small islands. These islands have already begun submerging and are causing a humanitarian crisis in their own right. Eventually, the problem is touted to become bigger than the current crisis plaguing Europe if left unchecked.

9. What got you interested in it/ why this issue specifically and not any other?
Ans. No clue. Some things just impact you more than others. Is there a good answer to this question in life?

10. What do you plan on doing after Geneva? Any plans?
Ans. I don’t have any concrete plans. Yet. Vaguely, I would want to work at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

I’m sure our readers would love to have some advice:

11. What advice would you give to people who are on the fence about corporate of non-corporate jobs?
Ans. Don’t take a corporate job unless absolutely sure about it.

12. What is something you think students looking for corporate jobs should know?
Ans. You will lose control over your time and life. Accept that.

13. For those students looking for a job in a similar field of looking for an LLM, what advice would you give them?
Ans. Research your colleges (google). Look at the courses. Apply early. Apply for scholarships.

14. Tell us a little about the course you’ve taken.
Ans. I’m doing an LLM in International Law with a focus on Protection of Vulnerable Groups. We choose subjects later.

15. What’s the application procedure for the LLM you’ve taken?
Ans. It is a fairly long online form where you provide all sorts of details – identity, academic and professional backgrounds, extra-curriculars, choose subjects or fields and most importantly write a Statement of Purpose.

16. How do you think college life influenced your choice to completely change course?
Ans. Knowing about the issue was something that came as a result of being part of an open challenge. But more importantly, for me, I think the people I was around, the classes that we took made me question things. College, as time wore on, became more and more about thinking about why things were wrong. This is not to say that it was the be all of my college life

17. If you could go back in time, to the first day of college, what would you tell yourself? Would you do anything differently?
Ans. I would tell myself not to worry. Eventually, it turns out, Pragya thinks that I’m funnier than Arshu. But internal jokes apart – Lots of things. But it’s useless to want to change things. So instead, we live and we learn and hopefully turn into better people. (Too sappy?)

18. What advice would you give to our younger readers about opportunities in law school?
Ans. Don’t be limited by the general perception of what you should or shouldn’t do. Find what you are interested in and do it. Try and do your projects early (LOL). Don’t be sexist, racist, casteist or classist or any of the bad ists. Question those who are.

19. What’d be your final message/advice you’d like to give our readers?
Ans. Be a feminist in the true sense of the word. Don’t be a bigot in any sense. Think about privilege and how it affects society. Don’t hate or like things cause they are cool or popular. THINK.


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