BELFAST WORK EXPERIENCE 2016
We recently spoke with three work experience students who are just starting out on their career path. They were based in the Belfast office of Pinsent Masons, and agreed to give an insight into the work experience programme and culture in the office.
Introducing the students:
Jessica Little is an A Level student at Victoria College Belfast, studying History, English, Politics and ICT with the intention of pursuing a career in Law.
Georgia Hewitt is 17 and about to start her final year of school studying A Levels in History, English Literature and French.
Ben Lowry is 17 years old and is going into his final year of school at Ballyclare High School having just completed AS levels in French, German, Physics and Maths.
What made you apply to the Pinsent Masons work experience programme?
Jessica: I signed up for the Pinsent Masons Summer Programme with the intention of gaining more knowledge of the law profession and the dissimilar classifications within it. Also as it is a good opportunity to begin to find the departments best suited to me and my personality.
Georgia: I have been considering a career in law and I wanted to experience life at a law firm before committing to my university studies. I have found the work experience at Pinsent Masons very helpful in confirming this is the right career for me.
What were your concerns before you joined Pinsent Masons?
Jessica: I was concerned that I would be out of my depth and have a very limited understanding of my surroundings. However, each and every person who provided me with work or advice took the time to really explain this to me. They also helped simplify things as they knew I had limited knowledge of the profession.
Georgia: Before I started I was slightly concerned about not fully understanding how to complete the tasks set but everyone here has been really friendly and always willing to answer questions.
How easy was it for you to start a conversation with new people?
Ben: The employees within Pinsent Masons were all so friendly and warming which made starting a conversation very easy and comfortable. What stood out for me was the fact that the employees were just as interested in me as I was in finding out about them and their careers. It might sound terrifying for people you’ve never met to be asking you lots of questions but it’s actually very warming to know that the people at Pinsent Masons want you to feel welcome and involved as much as possible.
Jessica: As aforementioned the team are very approachable, keen to offer advice and even available just to have a conversation with or direct you to where you are supposed to be. The various departments are all very close knit and they were very inclusive of myself and the other work experience students whilst we were with them. I really enjoyed having the amazing opportunity to speak with people who are already successful in Law and learn from them.
Has your confidence grown at all over the past week?
Ben: Yes definitely! Initially I was a little bit anxious to ask questions in case it came across as silly but you soon learn that there really is no such thing as a silly question. My advice for anyone going on to the work experience program would be to make sure you do ask your questions. I found that when you start asking questions you do get really insightful answers and after a week I definitely feel that my eyes have been opened into new prospects I hadn’t even considered before.
Jessica: My confidence has definitely grown as a result of this week and additionally my confidence in choosing Law as a profession. The team in this office are some of the most approachable and interesting people I have had the pleasure of meeting and because of this I feel very comfortable asking questions and learning from their experiences.
Georgia: This week made me more confident about future career plans as it has given me a taste of what the working environment is really like in a commercial law firm. During the experience I have felt very confident in asking questions as everyone was willing to take the time to fully answer any questions I had.
What departments have you experienced during your week and what kind of work have you been involved with?
Georgia: During my work experience I have spent time in the projects, corporate, employment, property and litigation departments. It has been really interesting to experience the different areas of law that I hadn’t heard much about prior to the work experience placement. Every day we had a talk from each of the different practice areas which was very useful for breaking down and explaining what the different practice groups do. I have carried out tasks such as reading and summarising documents and also creating documents that would be sent to clients. We also had work experience folders containing exercises related to each different department. We even got to visit court with the litigation department on the last day!
Is there anything that surprised you about working at Pinsent Masons?
Ben: Personally I thought a career as a Solicitor was a very lonely and isolated job so it came as quite a surprise to see so many people working together not just within departments but right across the firm and even between different office locations. There is something really exciting about doing work experience inside a firm who are dealing with the brands you see daily.
Jessica: The element of teamwork surprised me as I did not realise just how evident and essential it would be. The working environment and relationship between colleagues at Pinsent Masons made me recognise why the firm is so successful. Every single person whilst remaining professional is very down to earth and the teams really work to support each other which is something I would want in the profession I chose.
Have you picked up any useful tips from our staff?
Georgia: During my time here I found out that there are a lot of different routes into law as many people here have studied a degree in a different subject and then converted to law which is something I would consider doing. The importance of extra curricular activities and having other interests when applying for a training contract at a firm like Pinsent Masons has also been emphasised during my time here.
Ben: Have fun and enjoy yourself! You hear it time and time again but everyone does say that school and university days will be the best days of your life. The grades are important obviously but it matters just as much to get out, play sport, perform on stage and see the world because it will be the activities like that which will be asked about by an employer.
Would you like to apply for a Vacation Placement during your University studies?
Jessica: I would be very interested in applying for a Vacation Placement at University, especially as a result of my experience on the Summer Placement this week. Pinsent Masons LLP is a remarkable firm with a fantastic working environment. The fact that the placement was so well organised, coupled with the fact that the team are so welcoming meant the team really had the time to listen and speak to me which I massively appreciate as I understand how busy they are.
Looking to find out more about the work placement programme? Click here