Hello ladies! HAPPY HUMP DAY! Once again, it's #WCANWednesdays, and our lovely contributors have so much wisdom to share. Today, our contributor Liz shares some advice on stagnating careers, and when it is time to move on!
This question is relevant to almost every aspect of our lives, but today I'd like to focus on our careers.
To be clear, I enjoy what I do; my coworkers are pleasant, the environment isn't hostile, the workload isn't excessive and it provides me with invaluable experience. However, it isn't challenging me anymore. I'm too comfortable, and comfort married with a stalled career progression is slowly extinguishing the flames of ambition, and satiating my hunger for success.
I can't say that in say six, twelve or eighteen months what I will be doing will be drastically different to what I'm currently doing, and that's a great concern. Without a goal or a purpose, how can one move forward? How does one even know they're moving in the right direction?
Feeling happy and motivated to go to work every day makes the actual working part far more enjoyable. If you've reached the point where you're no longer motivated to perform, and are not developing new skills, seeing an increase in earnings, perhaps it is time to start looking elsewhere.
The foremost question is how? How do you move on? First, you have to know what you want in your new environment. If we aren’t clear and assertive about what we want, the search will be futile, and you will end up settling for whatever is thrown at you. When scouring the job market think about the key criteria the new role has to fulfil when making your decision. It is not just about your ability to do the job that's advertised, what can the job do for you?
I must admit, I currently struggle with knowing what I want from my new role, and a lot of will face this issue at some point in our career. We will want to move on, but we're unable to answer the question, "What next?" The idea of working for one company for a considerable time in our career is fast becoming extinct. The Association of Accounting Technicians commissioned a study into our working lives and found that the average person will have six different jobs within their life time.
I think for millennials that number will be higher - a lot of us will have had weekend and part-time jobs as teenagers. Some internships while at university, or an entry level position while we gained experience post-graduation.
If you're still trying to figure out what next, remain open minded, try new things and put yourself in situations which force you outside of your comfort zone. You may meet some great friends, or potentially a love interest, but trying new things gives you a broad idea of the working environment you enjoy the most, and that can lay the foundation for which roles you apply to in the future.
I know that I work best in an environment that allows me to feel comfortable and express myself. I prefer colleagues within a similar age range and the company culture needs to be sociable and friendly. Most importantly, I need to know that there is excellent progression, and earning potential.
Being able to identify these has given me a strong bargaining position. I know what my ideal work environment is and I take all this into consideration and ask the appropriate questions when researching or interviewing. I'm willing to be patient and not just accept any job offer that's thrown in my direction without proper consideration.
We spend such a large amount of time working that it's important to have a clear outline of what brings us joy, what can be negotiated, what should be avoided. It is unlikely that we will find a role which ticks all the boxes, but we can identify which roles meet our key needs.
HOW TO APPLY TO A LAW FIRM: TIPS FROM CLIFFORD CHANCE, HEWITSONS, AND SHEARMAN & STERLING LLP FUTURE TRAINEES
Ladies, application season is upon us! The months of blood, sweat, and tears churning out essays, sitting through long lectures, and burying your head in your books have led up to this moment. We at WCAN understand how daunting the process can be, so we reached out to 3 incredible women who have been through the application process and have been successful (securing training contracts with the likes of Cliifford Chance LLP, Hewitsons LLP, and Shearman & Sterling LLP) to give you some advice on how to apply to a Law firm!
Our first interviewee is Raifa Rafiq, who graduated with an English degree from Queen Mary University, and took the GDL route to Law.
Although she studied English at university, Raifa found herself interested in Law, and from her first year at university she set about finding opportunities to draw her closer to her goal of becoming a Solicitor.
From her first year of university, she ensured she planned the steps she was going to take to reach her goal. Her first point of action, attending different open days held by law firms, including Clifford Chance and BLP.
Raifa explains that at these open days, she took the time to network, and make herself likeable to future colleagues, “By attending networking events, you make yourself visible to the firm, for example, Clifford Chance keeps a record of students who’ve attended their networking events through the email sign-up." At each event, she signed up to the mailing list. This meant that when looking at her application, the company can see she’s frequently engaged with them, presenting her as an eager and favourable candidate.
Before securing a training contract from Clifford Chance LLP, she managed to get on to MacFarlane's Vacation Scheme, a brief 4-day scheme at Clifford Chance, and their winter vacation scheme for non-Law students (which, unfortunately, no longer exists). To boost her CV, seeing as she wasn’t from a law background, she engaged in several extra-curricular activities.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Raifa explained:
We caught up with Motunrayo Adeeyo, a Law Graduate from the University of Warwick.
Motunrayo had always pursued a career in Law, as a Barrister, however she changed her mind in her final year, wanting to become a Solicitor. In her first year of university, she secured a vacation scheme with Hewitsons LLP, a 1-Day shadowing experience at the Criminal Justice Centre, and a mini pupillage at the Senate House Chambers.
During her second year, she secured more summer work experiences. She was offered 4 mini pupillages, and decided to do 3 (Senate House Chambers, St Mary’s Chambers, and St John’s Chambers). To boost her CV, she engaged in extra-curricular activities, for example, becoming a university Campus Ambassador, and the BPP Campus Ambassador.
At the end of her pupillages, she decided she wanted to be a Solicitor, so she applied to different Law firms. In her final year, she was offered a training contract at Hewitsons LLP, an offer she deemed lucky to have had, given much of her experience had been mini pupillages.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Motunrayo explained:
Lastly, we interviewed Jeniz White, a law Graduate from the University of Leicester.
Jeniz had always pursued a career in Law, as a Solicitor, and strongly believes networking and work experience are key to a successful application. Having obtained a breadth of work experiences (seriously, check out her CV), Jeniz secured a training contract with Shearman & Sterling LLP in her final year of university.
Much like our previous interviewees, Jeniz stresses the importance of securing vacations schemes and how reputable it makes a candidate look to a Law firm. Firms like MishCon de Reya LLP offer 100% of their training contracts through their vac schemes, other firms, around 80-90%.
When asked about her top tips for securing a training contract, Jeniz explained:
In summary, here are the key messages from the ladies (plus a few of our own):
Law student Korkor shares the top ten lessons she picked up from WCAN’s Women in Innovation at Google.
Often when we think of key innovators in the tech field, the same names spring to mind: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, for example. While all of the above have shaped the industry (and ultimately the wider world) in different ways, they seem to fit the same profile – namely white and male. Diversity (or the lack of it) in tech companies and on the start-up scene is a hot topic so, in response, WCAN decided to host their first tech event at Google’s London offices to highlight the successes of incredible black women in the field and inspire the next generation. Drawing from the wealth of wisdom shared by the speakers, here are the top ten lessons I took home from the day:
1. Don’t be limited by the mainstream – Ruth Yimika Awogbade, Founder & Editor @ MAGNIFY (below)
New businesses have a habit of latching onto what’s popular and trying to recreate it instead of forging their own path. Ruth implored that you find your own lane as she did when creating her magazine. MAGNIFY brings together faith, feminism and fashion – a concept that may have appeared foreign to many, but made perfect sense to her. Finding her own space in the market instead of capitalising on trends is part of what’s made Ruth’s magazine such a great success.
2. Find your USP and trust in your brand – Florence Adepoju, Founder @ MDM Flow
With so much competition in the industry, it was expected that Florence would encounter hurdles when trying to establish her cosmetics brand. However, her unique selling point (bold and bright pigments that looked good on all skin tones) differentiated her products from others on the market. Ultimately, Florence knew there was a demand for her brand, which encouraged her to stay committed to it.
3. Know your market – Princess Onitilo, Founder @ Tress Free
Building a business with potential to expand is imperative. Princess recognised a gap in the market when a hairdresser fell through on an appointment and, realising the Afro-Caribbean hair industry needed more security, she created Tress Free – an app/website that brings together the stylist and consumer into one aggregated space. Naturally, with so many black women in the world using hair services, the market she can potentially cater to is huge.
4. Consult expert knowledge – Ade Hassan, Founder & CEO @ Nubian Skin (below)
Sometimes, business ideas arise from our own pet peeves or inconveniences. Ade mentioned that her idea for Nubian Skin came about because she couldn’t find nude underwear that matched her skin tone. However, once she had the idea, she found that her more corporate background meant she didn’t have all the necessary expertise to go about marketing her product. According to Ade, one of her best business decisions she made was finding a consultant who had expert knowledge in the fashion industry and could help her navigate her product to market.
5. Make your business investor-friendly – Yvonne Haizel, Investment Professional @ MITSUI & Co
For those looking for backing from investors, Yvonne listed the four key attributes that investment companies like MITSUI & CO look for when deciding to invest in new businesses:
6. Build relationships – Simon Thorpe, Angel Investor @ Delta 2020
You may have heard the phrase ‘Your network is net worth’. Simon explained how creating a diverse network is imperative to the success of any business. Having healthy relationships with all the stakeholders in your business, from manufacturers to PR to finance, and then building as many contacts as possible is essential if you want your product or service to have the widest possible reach.
7. Develop your skills – Mariéme Jamme, Founder @ #iamtheCODE (below)
Whether you’re hoping to work in the tech field or not, digital literary is crucial in the 21st century. Coding in particular is an invaluable, highly sought-after skill to have, even if you’re not looking for a career in development and fortunately, there a wealth of online resources to help you!
8. Find mentors and sponsors – Anne Marie Imafidon, Co-founder @ Stemettes
Head Stemette Anne-Marie explained that, while often used interchangeably, there’s actually a big difference between a mentor and a sponsor: while a mentor is there to support and advise you, a sponsor is someone who goes one step further and essentially advocates for you when you’re not in the room. Having the two is a great way to help accelerate your success.
9. Know your worth – Teju Ajani, Partnerships @ YouTube (below)
When dealing with employers or employees, it’s important to know the value you bring to a business. Teju mentioned a situation whereby she asked a former employer why one of her colleagues in the same role was making more money and subsequently, was given a raise. It’s important to note that sometimes your value as a business or a person won’t always be recognised by those who don’t believe in your vision so be sure to reassert it.
10. Work hard – Everyone
Whatever your field, you must work diligently: set goals with deadlines, remain focused, seek guidance and most importantly, trust in yourself. Almost every speaker mentioned that the keys to a great business were vision and the people behind it all. When people invest in or buy your product, they simultaneously buy into you, so keep a positive attitude and don’t be stunted by limitations. There will be trials, errors, sleepless nights and early mornings, but a resolute belief in your business will ultimately pay off.
King’s College London graduate Sofia Kebede on the five steps you can take this term to get you closer to your dream job
It’s the beginning of a new academic year and the perfect time to start working towards securing your dream grad job. Alongside top grades, securing your dream job requires a little extra effort outside your academics, as well as plenty of persistence. As such, we’ve devised a 5-step guide for the first term of university to help you bring you closer to your career aspirations.
1. Join a society
Being actively involved in a society, ideally with a position of responsibility, speaks volumes to employers about your capabilities. The skills demonstrated from such experiences are endless: time management, communication, teamwork, initiative, organisation and leadership are just a few. Employers in The City in particular look for any extracurricular activities that show leadership and a competitive edge, whether you’re on the committee of the investment society or the captain of a sports club. Better yet, start your own society and showcase your entrepreneurial flare! All of these attributes will set you apart from the competition during the application process. What’s more, the benefits of joining a society go beyond career-related goals as it’s also a great way to build a network with those who share common interests!
2. Polish your CV
Your CV is your first point-of-contact with employers, so it’s essential to make a good first impression. An unpolished CV represents an unpolished candidate; academic achievements and experiences are important, but so is the way you present them, so ensure that the overall presentation of your CV reflects you as an individual! Remember, this is your chance to sell yourself! Consistency is key, so using the same clear, elegant formatting throughout is a simple way to make the recruiter’s job a little easier when he or she is reading your CV. As a large proportion of recruiters reject unrefined CVs at face value, make sure the little things don’t trip you up at the first hurdle. And, most importantly, proofread, proofread and proofread again.
[Be sure to keep up-to-date with the WCAN blog for more tips on how to improve your CV!]
3. Visit your university’s careers centre
Most students make their way through university life without visiting the careers centre until those last few months of frantic job-hunting in final year. This needs to change. Careers centres are one of the most valuable resources you can exploit whilst at uni (and sometimes even a year afterwards), as they represent a world of expert advice and connections. Alongside consultations and informal chats with careers counsellors, many also offer a range of tailored support, from one-to-one sessions for CVs to assessment centre practice to mock interviews. Make it a task to book a consultation with your careers centre, no matter what year you’re in, by the end of the week!
4. Network – and then follow up!
One of the most rewarding career decisions you can make as a student is to build a network while you’re still at university. Most universities offer plenty of opportunities to network with recruiters, whether at careers fairs or via societies, while organisations such as WCAN regularly put students in contact with top companies at their events. Nowadays, the most connected candidates can utilise their personal networks as a reference when applying for roles - these contacts can vouch for your competencies, support your application and, in some cases, ensure you’re even fast-tracked! However, a lot of people forget that following-up after events is the key to successful ‘networking’. A business card from someone you met a couple of months ago is not sufficient – chances are the individual will not remember you. Therefore, don’t view networking as a one-way route: drop them an email a day or two after the event, add them on LinkedIn, invite them to coffee and come armed with intelligent questions. At the event itself, make sure to work the room and don’t be afraid to approach the person you’re interested in speaking to – you never know where your contacts might take you! Networking is a great way to practice your social skills, and like most things, it becomes easier with practice!
5. Secure a placement
All the above can help you with the final step: securing a vacation scheme, internship or spring week. Internships are your gateway to a full-time contract when done right! Off-cycle internships are increasingly used as a means of enrolling full-time candidates – according to efinancialcareers.com, ‘80% (or more) of the people who get hired as full time analysts will previously have worked for that bank as summer interns’. These internships can help you understand which career you should pursue after graduating and put you on the right track to achieving it!