This unprecedented time is leaving students and young professionals with a lot more time than usual, but being on lockdown does not mean you should be unproductive. This is an ideal time to build and develop yourself and your skills.
Many recruiters have said that in the future it will not be uncommon to hear the question “What did you accomplish during lockdown that you are proud of?” during interviews. Unfortunately, bingeing Netflix will not count.
Here are some ways to advance yourself and your CV from home.
- Online courses. There is a vast selection of free material out there for you to complete. InsideSherpa has courses with some of the top law firms such as Baker McKenzie and Linklaters. On average they take around four to 10 hours to complete, but you can choose when you want to do them, it is not timed whatso ever. It is also not marked, so if you feel like you have no knowledge on a topic, do not be reluctant to try something new even if you get it wrong! The main thing is that you learn from it as the firms provide model answers once you have submitted your attempt. This will stand out to employers as it will show interest and intent in your career.
- Building commercial awareness. I am sure as a law student you would have heard this phrase a lot and it is something you will be questioned on in interviews. In light of the current situation, this is a crucial time to investigate the social/economic implications on the field you wish to go into.
For example, if you are interested in real estate, keep an eye on what the housing secretary is announcing and what is going on with house prices – could this affect the conveyancing industry?
If you are interested in corporate, devolve into areas such as mergers and acquisitions. Businesses will be more hesitant to pursue new deals, especially if there is a high level of risk involved with the added uncertainty the pandemic has added. With reduced economic activity, any new proposals could be deemed too hazardous. It could be worth looking into whether trainees are still going to be taken on in the same volume with decreased demand.
- Online networking. We have never been so connected, so utilise websites such as LinkedIn to speak to people of interest – nine times out of 10 people will be happy to answer questions you may have. It is vital to build a solid network with people in your field, from students to partners! Vantage is also an excellent resource for networking. It allows you to be put into contact with top law firms who could be looking for people like you. In brief, although law is an academic subject, there is truth behind the statement “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”.
- Start a blog. This does not necessarily have to be law related, it could be something you enjoy outside of academics. It is about showing your character and initiative. University newsletters, local newspapers and LinkedIn are great places to start to earn more exposure and share your knowledge.
- Keeping busy. Even learning skills such as another language or sport are important. At interviews employers can ask you about skills outside the job which you not think are relevant. Languages are a great way to differentiate yourself from other candidates and can become surprisingly useful. Employers also consider who would fit in with the current crowd they have, so social things such as sports may help you break the ice!
- Training contract applications. If your goal is to become a solicitor, it is imperative to put 100% effort into your applications. There is a high number of other applicants. Think outside the box to make yourself stand out. Remember, some of these firms could be funding your GDL and/or LPC. Read over your application and think, “would I want to pay thousands to take on this candidate?” Deadlines are on a rolling basis dependant on the firm, there is a useful page on LawCareers.Net with firms and their deadlines.
Whether it is just an insight event, an unpaid internship or even a part-time, non-legal job, every bit of work experience can always have a positive impact on your future employability. Say yes to every opportunity in your vicinity and make every experience count, even the small ones!
Rebecca Hill is a law student at Brunel University London.