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Tools for developing interpersonal skills

In any professional role, I think it’s very important for us to know ourselves well so that we can better understand how we fit in with our colleagues, friends, family, and especially our clients. If we grow an awareness about ourselves, we can soon learn to grow an awareness of each other and appreciate that we’re not so different. These three models are most helpful!

1. Social Styles

Social styles is a theory by Merril and Reid which groups people into four distinct areas. These are analyticals, drivers, expressives and amiables. It is commonly used in the field of social work and it can help us to think about the way we interact with others, and how our interactions may differ. People are asked a series of questions which classify the level of assertiveness and emotional responsiveness someone demonstrates when interactive with others. Some people have two social styles where one is more dominant than the other, for example they may be an expressive with friends but a manager at work. You can find out more here.

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2. 16 Personalities

This is by far one of my favorite models. The theory behind this model, which is interestingly complex, is explained here, and if you want to take the test you can do so here. My personality type is Protagonist.

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3.  Learning Styles

This model looks at learning preferences in individuals and was developed by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford. Their work is based on David Kolb’s Learning Cycle, and I think that it is quite important to understand so that we are able to effectively communicate information to our colleagues in a way that they can easily understand.

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Fundraising for Mind.org.uk

On Sunday the 26th of August, I will be raising money for the mental health charity Mind. With an elevation of over 3,000 ft, the ascent will take three hours.

Outdoor physical exercise is proven to promote self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. Through the practice of mindfulness, that is, paying attention to natural surroundings, we can hush the busy mind.

Please sponsor my climb of Scafell Pike to show your support for promoting mental wellbeing.

Visit my Just Giving page here

 

Personality: Don’t fake it, make it!

I live by this article… worth a read for prospective trainees!

The Inbound Recruiter

Personality

How can you get across your personality whilst also highlighting your skills and legal experience on the application form? Here I share my top tips on how you can enhance your employability by developing your personality.

When I read application forms, I like to see some personality. Candidates that do this well always stand out from the crowd. But how do you show your personality on paper, I hear you ask? It’s not easy. And you may think it’s something best demonstrated at an interview. Well think again, because the first hurdle to a career in law is almost always an online application form, so selling your personal brand to the recruiter, even at this very early stage, is vital.

So, what will make the recruiter take notice? With more than 22,000* people studying law each year, you’ll need something truly unique to help you stand out.

That’s where your…

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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…

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REPOST: InternChina introduces some of their Interns

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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

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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!