Tosin recently visited the Bright Network office after securing an exciting role at magic circle firm Cifford Chance. She has kindly shared her experience as well as offering up her advice and insight into the process.
Why did you choose Clifford Chance and this role in particular?
I chose Clifford Chance (CC) because I had quite a bit of exposure to them after taking part in a few insight days at the firm as part of the Rare Articles Commercial Law program. I was able to visit eleven leading law firms as part of this program and Clifford Chance stood out to me. I really enjoyed networking with the people at the firm and I appreciated the fact that there was no one type of person that worked at the firm but instead there was a focus on excellence and being able to work with others.
I initially applied for the Middle East Vacation Scheme, but was automatically considered for a training contract given my eligibility. My interest in the Middle East stems from three main reasons: the opportunity to get involved in a lot of Africa work - (especially in the CC Dubai office), the opportunity to get very hands-on with cutting-edge work given the much smaller trainee intake size and finally, my interest in the future of businesses in the Middle East given Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.
What was the hardest part of the application process? And your favourite part?
The hardest part of the application process was preparing for the assessment centre. This is where my global business awareness was required as I wasn’t sure if I would be asked about commercial matters taking place in the Middle East specifically.
My favourite part of the process was actually the interview itself. It took place by video conference and so I was in the Clifford Chance London office and video conferenced the Dubai team. I really enjoyed both my competency interview and case study interview. The partners and senior associates that interviewed me were friendly and encouraging.
I also had many opportunities to talk about my work experience – from being a restaurant host at 16 to now running my own enterprise called Hi-R - they seemed to be genuinely interested in getting to know me as a person which was great.
Were you surprised by anything in the process?
I was surprised by the video conference dynamic. You are sat in a conference room with you on one big TV screen and the interviewers in Dubai on another big TV screen. I thought it was going to be super awkward, but it was actually fine! Just as long as you take your time and allow for slight time lags.
What three top tips would you give fellow Bright Network members looking to follow in your footsteps?
1. Understand how the firm operates as a business and show this in your case study.
2. Make sure you know exactly why you want to pursue a career in the Middle East. This could include things such as Arabic language skills and previous Middle East-related work experience.
For example, during an internship over the summer, I did some recruitment work for the Middle East company Saudi Aramco. I also did an internship at a real estate investment firm with a focus on Sharia-compliant transactions. These were both very useful examples to discuss at the interview.
3. If you have a hobby/venture that makes you stand out, this will be great to talk about in the interview. This could also be the make or break if you are interviewing for a graduate programme with a relatively small intake size.
What was the toughest question you faced at interview?
The toughest question I faced was during the case study. I was asked what I would do if a big client of the firm had been in the press for allegedly taking bribes. This is where a strong commercial awareness is needed. Here, it was useful to consider the potential effects on the firm’s reputation, examples of similar situations in the press and understanding that clients are key to the firm’s operation as a business.
Tell us a bit more about your enterprise Hi-R
Hi-R is a scheme which assists students with their applications and transition into universities in the UK. We will be expanding for our next cycle which will begin in August 2018. We are therefore looking for more undergraduate student mentors to join us, so if you’re interested in getting involved please find out more on www.hi-r.co.uk. Being a mentor can enhance your ability to work with others and improve your attention to detail. This can serve as a great example to discuss in an interview!
I am also more than happy to give advice to anyone going through a same/similar interview process. You can get in touch with me through LinkedIn.