Friday, September 18, 2015

Interested in attending our City Law for Ethnic Minorities event? Read Damini's experience!

In June 2015 I attended the TARGETjobs City Law for Ethnic Minorities event, and had the opportunity to network with trainees, associates, partners and graduate recruitment teams from Reed Smith, Baker & McKenzie, Wragge Lawrence Graham and Co, RPC and Cooley. It was a great experience and I would recommend any aspiring lawyer to apply.

What is it?
City Law for Ethnic Minorities is a two day event hosted in London by TARGETjobs Events. It has been running for 12 years providing an invaluable experience opportunity for motivated law students. The two days provide a real insight and exposure to city law firms in London that would be otherwise difficult to reach for those from disadvantage and/or ethnic minority backgrounds. The organised skills sessions allow you to learn what firms are looking for from applicants, and how to make your application stand out.

Why did I apply to attend City Law for Ethnic Minorities?
I have always been interested in City law and as a second year law student studying at the University of Bradford, the geographic disadvantage means there are limited opportunities to gain this depth of insight.  After hearing about this event, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to gain experience in City law whilst also learning about the diversity of it and the importance of this diversity.

How did I find the application process and the interview?
The application process is not too hard, but don't be fooled, it is competitive. The application requests your CV so make sure it is up to date and no longer than two pages. Also a 200 word answer as to why you want to apply and what makes you a strong candidate is required. This is your chance to portray your personality, but don't get caught in the web of trying to list all your strengths into the limited space of 200 words, just be yourself. To be quite honest, I started my answer with "Good morning, my name is Damini Sharma…"

The telephone interview is short but to the point. There aren't many questions but the interviewer tries to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure you have done some background research on the firms attending and the event itself so if any questions arise, you know how to answer them. Also, don't be afraid to re-arrange the interview if the timing isn't amazing.  I remember I was working at the time but the TARGETjobs Events staff were really helpful and we were able to arrange it to a time that suited the both of us. In fact, it served as a great opener when it came to the actual interview.

What was the best part of the event?

The best part of the event for me was the amount of networking opportunities available. Not just with the professionals but also with peers. Getting to know other students stories and sharing your own is a large part of learning how to improve your career prospects and gain exposure to new opportunities you were not previously aware of. It is important to remember that though it is a competitive field, not everyone is your competition and teamwork plays an important role in almost all careers to an extent.

Networking with the firms professionals was also a large part of this event. Learning about the ethos and values of a firm are best done by visiting a firm and talking to the employees.

What did I get out of it?
I learnt so much in these two days it was unbelievable.  Not just about the firms but also about the city and what it would take to live there.  It is so incredibly different to my hometown in the sense of the amount of people, the sites, the traffic and… the price of food. As a person who has never been to the heart of London, this was a very new experience for me.  Even with accommodation and a portion of my expenses reimbursed, I understood that London would be an expensive place to live.

As for the event itself, there were so many aspects addressed which you don't normally gain an insight into, for example, the skills sessions.  On the internet you can find so many articles and blogs on applications, but not many on the assessment days.  The skills sessions provided practice of group and individual presentations, case study exercises and teamwork sessions. These are all activities which could potentially be a part of the assessment day when applying to a Law firm.

What am I going to do now?

As a second year law student, it is an opportune time for me to apply for training contracts. Using the knowledge and connections I have gained from the event, I can now apply with more confidence as I now know what firms are looking for in my application and how to make my application stand out.

My advice to you.

1. Apply. This is a great opportunity to network with some amazing professionals and students and to consider whether you think that City Law is right for you.  It can also make your CV and applications stand out and give you a better competitive stance. There are only 85 positions allocated from hundreds of applications. 

2. LinkedIn is your best friend.  If you're not already on LinkedIn, get on it.  Many legal professionals now use LinkedIn as a network base. With so much networking at this event, the best way to keep in contact with everyone you meet is through LinkedIn. You can also showcase your strengths and achievements.

3. When we arrived, in the Introduction talk, Katy said "To make the most of this opportunity be prepared to participate, as the more you put in, the more you will gain from attending." This is so true and I would like to pass this advice onto you. Not just for this event, but for any event you attend. Don't be afraid to approach people, ask questions or get involved.

If you have any further questions about my personal experiences of the event, don’t hesitate to connect and mail me on LinkedIn.