We caught up with Rebecca after she landed a brilliant vacation scheme with Baker McKenzie to find out how she used commercial awareness to secure her role. She also shares her top tips for members looking to follow in her footsteps!
How was the application process for Baker McKenzie?
The application process for my vacation scheme position began with a form in which I detailed why I was interested in commercial law, why I wanted to join Baker McKenzie and some not-so-humble brags about why I was a fantastic fit for the firm. Getting the application right was extremely time consuming and I dedicated a lot of time to research. Following that, I had to pass the Watson Glaser test. The next stage was a video interview in which I answered 5 questions within a minute each. Despite the depths of my research and days of preparation there was a curve ball question that I did not expect so thinking on my feet about the motivations behind each question really helped. The final stage was an assessment centre which included a competency-based interview with an Associate, a group task and a commercial awareness-based interview with two Partners. After jumping over those hurdles, I had earned my summer vacation scheme position. The vacation scheme was concluded with a final interview with two Partners after which I got my Training Contract.
How did you build your commercial awareness before interview?
Commercial awareness had been a shortcoming for me in past assessment centres so I spent a lot of time developing in that area. The problem was not that I lacked business acumen but that I wasn't confident in my ability to articulate commercial concepts clearly. I addressed this by keeping up to date with the news and then noting my opinions and analyses in a notebook. By making a habit of this, I formed clear, well-developed ideas about current affairs. Another important aspect of commercial awareness is understanding your sector and for me, studying the function of different legal practice areas was a good start.
How did Bright Network help you throughout your time at university?
Bright Network’s weekly commercial updates were extremely helpful for me whilst at university. I always looked forward to them because they are quick easy reads with thought-provoking questions at the end that make it easy to mentally engage with the business world. Bright Network Academy has also been of great use to me since it launched last year. The Guide to Financial Markets course by Christopher Stoakes on Bright Network Academy is a fantastic introduction to the City. Commercial awareness aside, browsing internships, vacation schemes, insight days and graduate roles on Bright Network proved extremely efficient because I received email notifications tailored to my interests and reminders about application deadlines.
What are your three top tips for Bright Network members?
- Leverage what you have to get what you want. Transferable skills like teamwork, communication skills and critical analysis are essential to almost every career. You can demonstrate that you have these skills through your extra-curricular activities even if you do not have experience in your field.
- Network! Network vertically (by speaking to people ahead of you) and horizontally (by connecting with peers who have a similar ambition). This is an excellent way to get a better understanding of your sector, which opportunities are available and which employers would be a good fit for you. And in turn, improve your application strategy.
- Have faith. In order to convince an employer that you're the best candidate, you have to believe it first (cringe-worthy right? Cringe-worthy but true.) So, believe it and do not give up in the face of rejection.