Hollie Morgan, Practical Law Student Ambassador and LPC Student at the University of Law (Birmingham), gives her top tips for obtaining a Training Contract.
Obtaining a Training Contract can sometimes feel like a hunt for the Holy Grail. You have the grades, you have taken part in an abundance of vacation schemes and you have been to every networking event on the planet. Why won’t they just give it to you!? This was something I asked myself until I was stumped by an interview question and it finally dawned on me what I was doing wrong: “So Hollie, besides from law, what else do you do in your spare time?” I honestly did not know how to answer them. I spent every hour of every day consumed with law.
As lawyers, we have to be committed to law from the word go. But we forget that law firms, as with any employer, are looking for someone who will give them something a bit different. So how can you make sure you don’t get stumped by the question that I did?
Part time work
If nothing else, this will put an extra bit of cash into your pocket. Aside from that, you can obtain a number of skills and experiences that you can talk about in an interview. It does not matter whether it is bar work or an office based job, law firms will respect the fact that you have strived to earn your own money as well as complete your legal education. It will also give you a number of examples you can use in competency based questions and allow you to show your true commercial awareness by having worked in a business before. This year I became a Practical Law Student Ambassador which helped me develop my research, communication and presentation skills as well as helping me get to know more of the students. It has been invaluable experience to add to my C.V.
University is the best place to get involved in ANYTHING. At the very bottom of my C.V. it states that between 2012 and 2013 I was a member of the “20 minute society”. Without fail, every interviewer has asked me about that experience. So go and get involved in something that you have never had the chance to do before like the drama club, a sports team or the Harry Potter society. Whatever it is, it will provide a great talking point in an interview, help your application stand out against the rest and, most importantly, you will really enjoy it!
Fundraising and volunteering
What better way to develop skills while giving something back to society than getting involved with some kind of charity/volunteering scheme. This does not necessarily mean that you have to go down to the local Oxfam and help out every Saturday. The key is to try and find something you enjoy so that you stay committed to the project and are therefore less likely to let people down. This year I have decided to take part in the Great North Run half marathon as I really enjoy running. As well as raising money for charity, I can use this as an example to show that I am dedicated and committed once I begin a project.
I was astounded by the amount of firms who asked me whether I had been travelling anywhere. I understand that it is not feasible for everyone and you need the money to do it (this is where the part time job could come in handy) but if you do get the chance, make sure that you go. Not only will you have an amazing experience but you can also use this to make you stand out in an interview.
I know this may seem unfair. I can almost hear you asking me ‘where am I meant to find the hours in the day to do this as well as all my studying?’ All I can say is, make time. Juggling your degree with all of these things is essential training for your future life as a lawyer. So, besides from law, what are you going to do with your spare time?
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