Resilience, skills and employability through the ‘China experience’

A fantastic blog from Monira Ahmed, an international careers enthusiast within the University of Central Lancashire Careers Service. Thank you for the opportunity to collaborate!

Everything Careers

For anyone looking to enrich their university education and gain a unique set of skills and experiences, China is definitely a place to visit.

China’s global education and economic influence is still continuing; it dominates the list of leading universities in the developing world, and it’s strategic importance for UK companies is well illustrated with the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative; launched by the Chinese president in 2013, it sets out to improve and create new trade routes, links and business opportunities between China and over 60 countries across Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa. As the report highlights, the ‘potential exists for powerful partnerships between British and Chinese companies.’

With a wide range of study and work experience programmes, China has become more accessible for today’s students and graduates. And the good news is that steps have been taken to provide opportunities for students who may not ordinarily consider going to the country.

One initiative has been the…

View original post 658 more words

Advertisements

REPOST: InternChina introduces some of their Interns

Capture.PNG

REPOST: I want to share with you a post by InternChina Chengdu. These interns are pretty awesome people who have been a pleasure to experience China with. If you are interested in an internship in China, visit www.InternChina.com and tell them I sent you!

Last time we’ve introduced our IC team to you… Now it’s time to learn more about you guys!

Thanks to Suzy, Brett, Peter, Steph and Ross for their time, now let’s discover what they have to say about themselves and their life in China!


Where are you from?

Brighton, England (actually I’m from Worthing but no one has heard of that)

What do/did you study?

Physics

Where are you interning at? What is your job there?

I am working as a marketing assistant at IObit.

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

I think one of the nicest meals I have had was grilled fish. Think normal barbecued fish but so much better.

What is your favourite place in China?

My favourite place I visited whilst in Chengdu was probably QingChengShan. The rewarding feeling of reaching the temple at the top is just an amazing bonus to the incredible scenery you find on the climb.

What is your top tip for Chengdu?

As cliché as it is, never say no. Put yourself out there and make friends with Chinese people because I guarantee that a lot of them will jump at the chance to treat you to dinner or a trip etc. The best food I had whilst in Chengdu was definitely the food bought for me from my Chinese friends.

How is life in China?

If I had to describe it in one word; unpredictable. You never know in the morning what crazy things might happen to you, what amazing food you might find, but most of all what the weather is going to be (I carried sun cream and an umbrella with me every day).But I think it is the element of uncertainty that gives it its charm.


Where are you from?

England , Brighton

What do/did you study?

Law

Where are you interning at? What is your job there?

Tahota Law Firm – Reviewing contracts and making suggestions, comparing the English and Chinese legal system, attending events and meetings to grasp how law works in China and researching investment opportunities in and outside of China.

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

Gongbaojiding – I once ate it three times in oneday YUM

What is your favourite place in China?

Jiu Zhai Gou – it’s absolutely stunning and I have never seen water so blue!

What is your top tip for Chengdu?

Eat everything even if you have no idea what it is.

How is life in China?

I love China – there’s always something to do and everyone is super welcoming and happy to help! I’m really sad to be leaving this weekend.


Where are you from?

I am from South Tyrol, a German minority in the north of Italy. North of us is

Austria and in the West Switzerland. My home is in the middle of the alps.

What do/did you study?

I study European Ethnology in Munich, Germany. The internship is part of my subject for learning more about other cultures. The subject means, that I learn how other cultures are changing my own. Like Chinese customs are getting famous in Germany and why they are.

Where are you interning at?  What is your job there?

I am doing my Internship at Comeplus. My job is at the moment to do market research. I am here with other interns and they showed me things, they did before the actual research program, so I am looking forward to have also other different projects to experience.

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

I am since some weeks in China, so I am far away from trying out all. I would for now favorites the dumplings in their different variations.

What is your favourite place in China?

I don’t have yet a favorite place, I have seen so less from that place. But it´s what I would suggest everybody: to not stay in one city or daily way to work, but to spend every free minute by travelling around.

What is your top tip for Chengdu?

You can´t visit Chengdu without trying out the Hotpot here.

How is life in China?

Different of course, but it is safe and interesting. To see different culture and different way of living. I enjoy the difference and challenge already, that the end of my time here is coming to quick.


Where are you from?

Newcastle, UK

What do/did you study?

I studied Ancient History and Archaeology

Where are you interning at? What is your job there?

I’m interning at British Chambers of Commerce as a Marketing Assistant, where I update the website with events and members news, send newsletters and make various WeChat posts.

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

This is hard as the food here is amazing! I think I’d have to go for dumplings though-any kind

What is your favourite place in China?

Kangding- it’s so beautiful and really chilled out, but still has some of that city vibe.

What is your top tip for Chengdu?

Be open to new experiences- nothing here is predictable, and it’s important to try everything that the city has to offer.

How is life in China?

Surprising! Every day is different here, and every day I see something that interests me or makes me smile. It is a very exciting city to be in, and something is always happening here.


Where are you from?

Lancaster in the North West of England.

What do/did you study?

I study Law.

Where are you interning at? What is your job there?

I’m interning at Jin Kai Law Firm as a research assistant.

What is your favourite Chinese dish?

My favourite Chinese dish is Sichuan Dry-Fried Green Beans (Gan bian si ji dou 干煸四季豆)

What is your favourite place in China?

My favourite place is Chengdu of course.

What is your top tip for Chengdu?

My top tip for Chengdu is to get to know the locals as much as possible, Chengdu is an amazing place and it’s the people here that make it come to life.

How is life in China?

Life in China is convenient, you can find pretty much anything you want (except clotted cream for Afternoon Teas)

Anything you want to add?

Thanks so much for an amazing 8 weeks out here. Interning in China will change your life so be prepared to postpone your short term ambitions

A foreword on TC applications

Cover

A quote which comes to me in those difficult times on the path to becoming a solicitor was one given by Thomas A. Edison.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up”

Thomas A. Edison

Imagine you are in a race which you will run completely blindfolded. You have been running for about thirty minutes; you are absolutely exhausted and there is no telling how far away you are from the finish line. Could you imagine if you gave up and disqualified yourself from the race, only to find that you were three metres from the finish line?

Of course, this statement was given in the earlier years of the 19th century when the legal profession was enjoying better weather, but it is highly relevant to the present date. Our current legal economy enjoys thousands of legal graduates, many have already completed their LPC, and this saturates the market with plenty of raw talent to be exploited for nearly half a salary of what a newly qualified solicitor would be paid.

It is now more important than ever to do what you can to stand out in that market, and I have no doubt that many of you are already taking steps by participating in pro bono opportunities and the like. If you are already doing paralegal work along side your studies, then that is fantastic.

But I do not think that it should end there – there are a few more points I think are missing from the record. I will elaborate on three points which I think are absolutely fundamental, albeit not the characteristics or qualities you can simply learn by reading profession magazines or  becoming ‘commercially aware’.

1. Desire to change the world

A desire to, as Steve Jobs put it, ‘make a little dent in the universe’ sounds quite ambiguous, but do not let that discern you. Are you sure that earning lots of money and making it to partner level will offer all of the fulfilment you need in your life? If so, is this really the career for you? There is more to becoming a solicitor than working 9 to 5; you will be placed in a position where people will want and respect your opinion – they will be paying for it.

When you finally embark on your ambit, keep it to yourself. Just as the Colonel did not let on about his secret 11 herbs and spices, neither should you. Be careful who you share those ambitions with; some people will be on board with your goals and offer their full support, whilst others will do all they can to stand in your path. It is true that people with big ambitions have broad horizons, and many (but not all) recruiters will be looking for this rare and genuine quality.

Furthermore, a genuine desire to exact change will give you the persistent and resilience you will need to face the obstacles ahead. It will also serve as a constant reminder of who you are and what you are doing here. You cannot walk down a path that you cannot see.

2. Show some persistence

Imagine you are told that 10 of the doors you knock on will open. There are 150 doors to choose from, and so because you favour the probabilities, you get straight to it and start knocking on every door. This is the logic of many law students, and I think it is flawed. Imagine that doors numbered 141-150 were all those which would open, and by door 80 you had given up. To even further complicate the scenario, perhaps the reason why only 10 of the doors would open was due to the remaining 140 occupiers being out at that time. You did not even think to go back at a mutually convenient time.

Now just to bring you back into the room, cold calling is very much illegal and I do not intent to encourage it. The point I am trying to make is that perhaps  2015 was not a convenient time for you or the firm when you submitted your application. The amazing thing about university is that you develop rapidly in such a short space of time. There are new opportunities which just keep unfolding, and in turn you develop skills you never had. A little persistence, with a hint of pragmatism, could eventually work out in your favour.

In summary, the message is to never be discerned by your present situation; even if that involves rejection. Part of being a solicitor involves being a proactive forward-thinker and thus it is no excuse to be idle minded, fooling yourself into thinking that your current situation is the be all end all.

3. Be resilient at all costs

Night terrors, day dreams and tears – I am not shy in admitting that I have suffered from all of the above on many occasions. If you truly are likewise devoted to a legal career, you may have also shared these experiences – absolutely nothing wrong with that what so ever. And as rightly stated by Douglass, these are all the result of being steps closer to the things you want in life.

“Without struggle, there is no progress”

Frederick Douglass

I was downhearted to discover that 8.1% of paralegals surveyed by LAWYER2BE had given up on their ambitions to become a lawyer. Not ‘wasted-talent’, I would rather describe these people as ‘potential yet to be unlocked’.

Having an above-average fortitude is something which does not grow on trees, but it grows around the times of adversity in your life. Elasticity increases the more something has been stretched. Therefore, putting yourself outside of your comfort zone, and braving the unknown (for me, this will be going to China) will serve you in both the medium and long term.

Resilience will get you through the late nights at the office, the unhappy clients and chiefly the many rejections you will face as a student looking for a place in the working world. Celebrate and nurture this quality, rather than avoiding the situations which might harm your self-esteem.

And so to draw to a conclusion, I hope you that have found some strength in this article despite my many confusing analogies. I offer solace for all of those undergraduates, graduates and paralegals who begin to write their training contract applications, and I wish you all the strength in this hard month. Best of luck to you all!

 

Exam Success

Capture2

Hello all. I know that it has been a while since I last wrote to you, but rest assured I am still kicking and screaming my way into becoming a solicitor, and it starts with exams. I thought I should write to you all, since the exams are fast approaching, about some study tips you might find useful in these last few weeks of exam preparation. I have broken them down into four key areas – my strategy for exam success.

Time management

Managing your time effectively is going to be key to your success in the exam. Not only does it mean managing your revision time wisely, but also the time you have in the exam.

So for managing your revision time, it might be a good idea to create a revision timetable. Many of you will be doing more than one exam this month, so you want to make sure you give each module enough of your attention, no matter how far or close apart they may be. I am using a colour coded timeline which shows me what modules I should be revising on each day, and exactly when my exams are coming.

Capture

It is so important to make sure that your modules are evenly spread apart (see Week 1) so that you are constantly recapping what you have learnt. This will ensure that you retain as much of the detail as possible. Also, be sure to take into account how well you understand the topics when allocating your time to your modules.

As for timing in the exam, your module tutors should provide you with rough guidance. But as I said, this is rough guidance and your ability in the exam will much depend on: what you know; how well you know it; and ultimately, how fast you can write. On that note, it is certainly a good idea to conduct your own little mock exam and see how well you can manage your time.

Technical ability

Law, as with many subjects, is certainly a technical subject. Examiners can tell when students memory dumb, and they do not like it as it shows little engagement with the module’s learning outcomes. If you want to score well in the exam, you really need to focus on your technical ability.

This includes not only understanding the legal rules, but how they apply in the scenario. Lecturers constantly emphasise on application because this is the only way they can see that you understand how the rules work. You can pick this up by reading through judgments, case facts, looking at similar cases which cite those judgments.

Good application

Weak application

The defence of loss of control is not available where there is a considered desire for revenge (s.54(4) Coroners & Justice Act 2009).

The fact that Sandra had bought the weapon on the day of the killing could suggest that she had a considered desire for revenge, and the court would have to take this into account (Ballie).

The defence of loss of control is not available where there is a considered desire for revenge (s.54(4) Coroners & Justice Act 2009).

Therefore Sandra may not have the defence because of the knife (Ballie).

I have learnt first-hand that being able to remember all of the relevant sections of the Coroners and Justice Act is, albeit very impressive, not enough to get you the top marks in the exam. Do not be discouraged to apply the law to the facts if you are pressed for time; you simply have to make the link between the law and the facts.

Information retention

 Many students, including myself, struggle to remember all of the little details. Lucky as we are that we do not need to remember the citation for every case – we still need to remember the case. Have you tried remembering Hirji Mulji v Cheong Yue or Tsakiroglou v Noblee Thorl GmbH?

Being able to show a balance of good application and accurate citation is part of the crusade of doing well in the exam. Therefore, you need to find ways that help you retain information.

Have you tried?

  • Coloured paper
  • Flow charts and mind maps
  • Flash cards
  • Audio recordings
  • Teaching your friends

Flowchart

You should also enjoy the advances in technology – far disconnected from what our senior lecturers had ‘back in’t day’. There are some brilliant online resources out there, as well as the SmartArt tools in Microsoft Office and the voice recorder built in on most mobile phones.

Social life

Many students think that exams are a one-time thing and once they are over it will be all plain sailing. This is not true – throughout the rest of your career, be it legal or not, your employer is going to expect you to be able to maintain that work life balance. Having witnessed people who are very close to me go through this exact struggle, I am brave enough to assert that there is a real possibility that you may graduate into a career in which all seems to be ‘work work work work work work’.  It leaves you feeling empty and unfulfilled, and could even spark a ‘quarter life crisis’.

So at this stage, whilst you are a student, I urge you to use this time whilst you can to test out your limits and figure out where that line in your work-life balance falls. From my personal perspective, having a medical condition which creates symptoms that are aggravated by stress, I know just how important it is to take a break now and then.

Sure, we all want to make it to Allen & Overy and DLA Piper, but we are all human at the end of the day. So take a break – and if now is not the time, make it your incentive to be really productive now whilst you can. But also you have to be honest with yourself, because going for a drink or two with friends the night before the exam is not going to be helpful.

Conclusion

I hope you found my advice useful, and if you have any useful tips you would like to share, just post them in the comments below.

I wish every one of you the best of luck in the upcoming exams. To all those legal professionals who took the time to read this article, I hope it was a nice walk down memory lane for you.

Have I got news for you!

Hello avid blog readers! Thank you for your patience over the past month. January has been a hectic one as I have been preparing for some exciting international opportunities which I cannot wait to tell you all about in due course.

For now, below is a plan of works for the rest of Spring!

NationalLawLive Conference – End of this week

China Intern-ship in Chengdu – End of January

Reflections on Media Law – Mid February

UCLan EU Brussels Trip – End of February

Returning to Preston College – End of February

One Years’ Service at Victim Support – End of March

I will be in touch soon!

 

Allen & Overy Insight Day

I am delighted to inform you all that I had the pleasure of attending the Allen & Overy Commercial Awareness event in London a couple of weeks ago. Thank you to The Student Lawyer who made it possible! This was an exciting and insightful event, and here is what I made of it.

About the day

The day kicked off with the usual networking in A&O’s conference suite. We were welcomed by Claire Wright, the firms’ Graduate Recruitment Partner who advises clients such as Amazon. Claire gave an

12279031_537373123105618_9043978797074559745_n
Outside the A&O London HQ

insightful talk about who A&O are, what sets the firm aside from other magic circle firms, what types of clients they advise and the types of trainees they are looking for.

 

After a short break, we were introduced to Talent & Development Specialist, Madeleine Spence, who gave an enlightening networking skills session focusing on issues such as: the right handshake; use of body language; growing and nurturing your professional network. This was particularly useful as a second year law student with the view of attending future networking events.

Shortly after the skills session, we were introduced to trainees from Banking, Corporate, Tax and International Capital Markets (ICM) to name. I had the opportunity to speak to A&O trainees about their experiences as an aspiring commercial lawyer. From what I had gathered, the trainees really enjoy their work, the people they work with, and the quality of training they receive.

IMG_1501
Program for the day

Although, if one thing can be improved; the firm needs to be more ‘open’ about the way in which partners make decisions. Whilst leaving no stone unturned, generally A&O is an exciting place to work, hard work follows and the trainees are duly rewarded.

 

After lunch, the trainees stayed at our tables to help us with the A&O ‘Business Game’, which looked at the anatomy of a deal. We had the opportunity to apply our commerciality and knowledge of the law to a hypothetical scenario whereby company A sought to take over company B. There were news bulletins, reports and various other artefacts which had to be considered in advising the company. Essentially, this was a due diligence operation which required a level-headed common sense

IMG_1504
More freebies!

approach. Despite this, it was a very intellectually stimulating and enjoyable experience for all of us in the team. I might also add, it was a brilliant opportunity to practice our skills for future assessment centres.

 

The day was closed by Hannah Salton, the Graduate Recruitment Manager at A&O. Hannah was very helpful in explaining issues surrounding the application process including, inter alia, vacation schemes, training contracts, LPC and GDL funding.

BULLETIN for MLaw students. Yes – you are OK to apply to A&O – but it must be noted that the firm likes candidates to attend BPP to complete the MA (LPC with Business) course. I spoke to the course leader at BPP who advised that MLaw students would simply be exempt from having to retake particular LPC modules.

A thought for diversity

As a student who describes themselves as ‘northern and proud’, you can understand that this being my third time travelling to London this year (and in my life) is quite a significant thing for me. Including other factors such as my; accent, state educated background, sexual orientation, and low income 12274379_537418159767781_3946422286969550423_nbackground; making it to a magic circle law firm in the city is my proudest achievement to date.

Although there is still great progress to be made in the industry, and whilst organisations such as Aspiring Solicitors and Rare Recruitment are helping to open doors to individuals from all walks of life, you should never let who you are bring you down! We are always drawing closer to a society which lets individuals pick their own hand of cards. Celebrate your skills, focus on your weaknesses and you will get there. With a little support from your university careers service and other external organisations such as above, that one small drop in the ocean can create waves of opportunities.

Reflections on the day

I am still as excited and passionate about pursuing a career in commercial law. I have had this fantastic eye opening opportunity which has allowed me to ask my questions and get the answers I need to proceed onto applications for further open days and vacation schemes in 2016. Over the short term, I will now need to consider ‘how big’ I am willing to take my career. Can I imagine myself clocking 36 hours of straight working on high profile cases, in potentially what will be the next stage of my career?

Well, next month, I will be attending the NationalLawLive conference at the MOSI in Manchester to have a look at the smaller UK commercial firms based in and around Manchester. I am hoping that I can answer the aforementioned question and ‘sniff out’ the pros and cons of working for the more national firms such as Shoosmiths, Nabarro and Irwin Mitchell.

** Post was written 21st November 2015 – apologise for delay in publication.