Thomas Meacher, a fourth-year law student on the English and Scottish dual-qualifying stream at Dundee University and President of the Dundee University Law Society, offers his top tips on how to bolster your CV, despite lockdown, and get that intern position or traineeship.
Acquiring an internship or traineeship is no simple walk in the park; the application processes for both can be daunting and long-winded. With this in mind, I present advice that I personally found constructive and which I feel helped me gain legal work experience.
It is certainly much harder to bolster your CV during such unprecedented times, particularly as many organisations are closed because of lockdown.
Subsequently, I encourage people to engage with online resources. Sites such as Forage (previously InsideSherpa) offer a diverse selection of online placements, which means students can not only gain invaluable legal experience, but also diversify their experiences beyond the legal sector. This is advantageous as an increasing number of firms are looking for a breadth of working experience and that does not necessarily need to be legal.
Maintaining extra-curricular activities is also crucial to enhancing your application, as it not only demonstrates a wider range of skills, but also that you have a personality outwith your studies and that you are proactive.
Being proactive does not have to be as comprehensive as learning another language; simply engaging with your student law society or student union (albeit virtually) will help portray you as someone who is willing to get involved.
I also recommend making full use of the Law Society of Scotland’s Student Associate scheme, which offers free expert careers advice and new initiatives to get involved in. It means that, if and when, an employer asks what you did during lockdown, you can demonstrate that you remained on the ball.
Looking at firms, the saying ‘the bigger the better’ does not always ring true when it comes to the success of applications. Smaller firms are often overlooked when it comes to applying for jobs, with statistics showing that firms with 1-5 partners have almost exactly the same number of traineeships as firms with 30-plus partners. However, a key difference is that smaller law firms do not receive as many applicants. Check out the Law Society's Find a solicitor feature to discover small firms in and around the area and location you want to work in.
The main piece of advice I can give you to take away is to remain diligent, proactive, and to persevere. But remember to take a break and breathe - you will land a job.
Happy job hunting and stay safe.