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Remember your first day of law school? You sauntered in with an air of confidence, swaggering over to your desk as if you were already Harvey Specter. After all, you had scored top marks in high school, maybe even got Dux of the college, and you made it into law school. You may not be the smartest person in the room, but you feel pretty damn proud of yourself.
That is, until you start talking to your fellow peers. That guy sitting next to you? Yeah, his dad is a judge and he’s already worked at the Barristers Chambers for the last five summer holidays. That girl sitting in the front row? She’s already nabbed a legal secretary position at a top tier firm. White-hot panic starts to set in. You start wondering if you should drop out of law and take up something less stressful, like nuclear physics or rocket science. After all, how can you compete with these people when you have no legal work experience?
Although you may think that your resume will be laughed out the door by evil HR Managers if you don’t have any legal work experience, this is actually not the case. Law firms are on the prowl for someone who can think on their feet, interact well with clients and most importantly, isn’t afraid of hard work. Just because you haven’t worked at a firm before doesn’t mean that you don’t have these skills! In fact, here are five “non-law” places you can gain work experience when applying for that highly coveted law job:
Let’s face it, you already spend enough time at the university. Why not get a job there as well? Law firms love seeing their applicants getting involved in the campus life instead of being holed up in the law library 24/7. You can get involved in the law society, become a student ambassador, join a volunteer program, become a tutor, mentor or a research assistant for your professor.
Start your own business
Law firms are also looking for someone with an innovative mind and entrepreneurial spirit. What better way to show this than starting your own business? If you have a creative business idea or invention in mind, you can turn it into a business through websites such as Kickstarter. Creating your own start-up sets you apart from the crowd and will definitely get your resume noticed.
Whether it’s volunteering at your local pet shelter or feeding the homeless, you don’t have to be Mother Teresa to lend a helping hand to the community. Find a cause that you’re passionate about and start dedicating your time to helping those in need. Aside from doing good, it also shows future employers that you are compassionate and have interests aside from studying and working! In fact, a lot of law firms are involved in charities and pro bono work. If you happen to volunteer at a charity organisation that the firm is also involved in, it will definitely help you stand out from other candidates.
Planned your uni’s law ball? Organised a successful fundraising event? Although these events may just sound like a lot of fun, putting experience with event planning on your resume can show firms that you have excellent management and leadership skills. You can work well under pressure and meet deadlines, which is exactly what employers are looking for in a fast-paced environment.
Retail & hospitality
Speaking of fast-paced environments, most people shy away from putting their job at McDonald’s or a retail store on their resume because they don’t think that it’ll impress fancy law firms. On the contrary, law firms see that you are capable of working under pressure, dealing with demanding customers and working well in a team! It may not be the most glamorous job, but the skills that you acquire from it are invaluable to any employer.
These are just a handful of awesome places where you can find work experience that aren’t solely of ‘law’ environments. It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, as long as you are able to sell yourself and your personal brand to your desired employer. Instead of focusing on where you worked, pinpoint valuable skills that you acquired from your job and how they will benefit you in the role. In your interview, talk about that time you resolved a fight between two feuding co-workers or when you had to deal with a disgruntled customer. Remember, work experience isn’t just about having an impressive resume, it’s also about personal development. Happy job hunting!
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