We recently spoke with Aimee about securing a vacation scheme with Allen & Overy. She talks about what stood out to her about Allen & Overy, how she built up her commercial awareness before the interview and her top tips for Bright Network members looking to follow in her footsteps.
What stood out to you about the firm you secured your role with?
Allen & Overy have a great culture that’s open and inclusive. They also place great emphasis on diversity and inclusion, as this is one of their strategic business priorities. The firm really embrace differences between people and place emphasis on social mobility, which is important to me as a first-generation university student. I think being able to offer vacation scheme participants the opportunity to undertake cutting-edge work within an inclusive working environment stood out to me. I also talked with some of the trainees/future trainees at the firm, who emphasised that A&O is a great firm to work for, and ultimately, being able to see myself working effectively within A&O’s culture motivated me to apply for the vacation scheme.
How did you build your commercial awareness before the interview?
I usually read the Financial Times each morning, but before the interview, I made sure to undertake wider reading and read about different topics. I focused on the business section and read about current business trends. I also looked at some recent deals the firm had assisted on in particular sectors. Then I built my knowledge on this sector and the current trends impacting businesses in that sector. Also, I saw that the firm had some prominent clients in the retail industry, so I prepared a brief summary of current trends in that industry. This came up in the interview, and I talked briefly about how the COVID-19 pandemic had accelerated the shift to online retail, and how consumers also had to shop online during the national lockdown(s), with most finding this more convenient and some even shopping online for the first time.
What would be your top tip to members going through the application process?
Always be yourself, whether that be at the initial application stage, assessment centre or interview. I’ve found that I always do better when I let my personality shine and feel more comfortable in the process. It’s also useful to prepare specifically for the different interviews and assessments you will have to complete. Many application processes consist of a case study interview and normally either a scenario-based or strengths-based interview. In all interviews, I try to demonstrate that I have the general skills and attributes that I think firms are looking for, such as collaboration skills, problem-solving skills, attention to detail, resilience, innovation and, of course, commercial awareness; these aren’t specific to any firm, but are generally considered to be important skills for a career in commercial law. For example, during the case study task, I always try to suggest solutions to any problems I’ve identified. Finally, always make sure that you have examples of situations in which you’ve demonstrated these different skills and attributes.
How did Bright Network help you secure this role?
I actually applied for the Covington & Burling LLP Mentoring Programme through the Bright Network website. I secured a place on this, and have since received guidance from my mentor, who has been incredible. They have helped me to draft applications, prepare for interviews and assessment centres, and they are always on hand to give general advice. I also took part in Bright Network's Internship Experience UK Commercial Law track last summer and gained invaluable insight into numerous commercial law firms, and undertook a range of different tasks which have undoubtedly prepared me for some of the tasks I will face on the vacation scheme.
What’s been the toughest interview question you've faced and how did you tackle it?
The toughest interview question I’ve faced is ‘What is your biggest weakness?’. This wasn’t for A&O specifically, but I’ve been asked this question a couple of times during different interviews. I think that the most important thing is that when you identify a weakness, you also explain how you’re trying to overcome it. Also, no one is perfect, so the interviewer does expect you to have weaknesses! Recently, an interviewer responded when I stated that I always strive for perfectionism in everything that I do and asked what I would do if I had to complete an urgent task for a client and did not have the time to complete the task to my high standards. I explained that I would do the best possible work in the time allocated. I would make sure that I met the deadline, given the urgency of the task. I think this also demonstrated that I could adapt to challenges in the workplace and respond appropriately if I had to complete an urgent task.
Did you use Bright Network Academy in your career search and if so, how did that help you?
I haven’t used the Bright Network Academy yet. However, it looks incredibly useful for those seeking to enhance their skills in preparation for a career in commercial law.
What top three tips would you give Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
- Don’t compare your journey to others.
- Attend as many Bright Network (and other employer events) as possible. They offer an invaluable opportunity to speak to and network with representatives from different firms, from partners to graduate recruitment personnel to trainees. The Bright Network events are unique in bringing lots of different employers together.
- Never give up. The application process can be difficult, and rejections can knock your confidence, but rejection is redirection!