The 2018 Commercial Careers Fair was a great opportunity to learn about clerkship and graduate programs at many of Melbourne’s best commercial law firms. If you missed out on attending this event, you also missed a valuable networking opportunity.
But all is not lost! I have included a number of useful tips about applications below. From my personal experience, I can also say that attending networking events based at the university are particularly great to attend. Many of the firms in attendance were represented by former Deakin students who were excited to return to the university and to share their knowledge with students. This creates a very friendly and supportive environment comparatively to some other careers-focused events held outside of the university.
- Don’t stress about the huge numbers of students competing for clerkships. It is easy to become overwhelmed in by dismal statistics and the negative thoughts of others. Just focus on your journey and about what makes you special.
- Great first step is by writing a fantastic cover letter. Make sure you research the firm you are applying for. Generic letters do not stand out.
- Make sure you address your cover letter to the correct person and spell their name correctly. When analyzing a high volume of applicants, letters that lack attention to detail will quickly be discarded.
- Preparing a good application takes a long time! Ensure you are prepared by giving yourself plenty of time.
- The application process is not simply about the cover letter and resume, that is just the beginning. Different firms will have different application processes. You should research what the firm requires from applicants so that you do not encounter any nasty surprises. Some firms may place you in a group problem solving exercise, or ask you to read a case and summarise it in 30 minutes.
- Be prepared to have a conversation in an interview. Firms will be seeking applicants who are in line with their values. You may be asked to discuss a current legal issue, but more likely than not, the firm will want to know more about you as a person, your experiences, and your ability to communicate.
- How can you tell which firm is right for you? One way is to come along to careers events just like the Commercial Career’s Fair and have a face-to-face interaction with the firm. You may find that you gravitate to certain firms, after which you may place extra effort into their applications.
- How many clerkship applications should you expect to apply for? This was an interesting question as each of the panelists had very different answers. One of the panelists submitted just 5 applications and received several offers in return. Another panelist submitted approximately 20, but only received one offer. Put yourself out there. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst case scenario.
- Graduate rotations? If you are lucky enough to get a graduate position, it is more likely than not that you will be required to do some experience in one area of the firm, and be asked for preferences about other areas. Don’t be put off by areas that you think will not suit you. Several representatives described how surprised they were to find themselves in a certain area that they disliked or never studied at university!
Thank you to the Deakin Law Student Society for running this fantastic event. I cannot understate the huge amount of volunteer work that is involved in running these events. However, all the work is well worth it as these are excellent opportunities for students.
If you missed this event or are interested in attending more careers focused events, you may wish to attend the following events. Please see the links provided for full details.
The Annual Careers Dinner (Geelong event) – 11 May
Meet the Professionals (Burwood event) – 23 May
By Elle Crawshaw (DLSS Geelong’s Off Campus Representative)