Getting a callback to interview for law school is incredibly exciting. How should you prepare for NUS/SMU/SUSS law school interviews?
1. By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
It is common sense to prepare for the interview. But what exactly should you do?
First, get acquainted with the subject matter - law. Start with the broad basics. Read about Singapore's legal system (read a quick primer, figure out the difference between common law vs. civil law legal systems, what is the rule of law?). The good news is that information is available online about virtually everything these days, so there's no excuse not to do some background preparation and reading!
You don't need to know everything about law (that's what law school is for), but you do need to know something.
If you have more time, borrow a book from the library about any area of law. Choose a beginner text. You don't need to be an expert, you just need to dip your toes in the water.
If you have less time, but still want a measure of depth, read a court judgment about an exciting case. Choose an area you're already interested in, and follow that trail to find out more - it could be criminal law, intellectual property, contract law etc.
Check out what's happening in the news. There's always something exciting happening - and you will quickly realize that everything is linked to the law.
Make sure you are aware of contemporaneous events in the legal sector as well (i.e., important news, big developments, major reform & legislation etc.) This is also an excellent way to come up with good questions when your interviewer asks you if you have any questions at the end of the interview.
A Resume shouldn't just be a laundry list of all your experiences. It should tell a STORY and CONVINCE prospective employers that you are the best candidate!
1. Figure out what your Employer wants
If you really want to get a call-back, you need to focus on what your employer wants (rather than what you want).
Just like how social media is a "highlights reel", your CV shouldn't be just a laundry list of all the jobs you ever had, with every detail about your accomplishments (and non-accomplishments). It should be a focused "highlights reel" that showcase your skills and strengths - which are relevant to your dream job. Your resume should highlight you as a person, and why you would be an excellent fit for your prospective employer.
2. Weave a Story
Sell yourself! Be your own best advocate.
Based on what your prospective employer wants, arrange your best work experiences and accomplishments into a narrative that sells yourself. Think about how all your past experiences have built up your strengths, and why these strengths can add value to your prospective employer.
Steve Jobs famously said that you can't connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. Connect the dots for your employer!
1. Who is giving it? (and Why?)
The first thing to consider is who the giver of advice is - and his/her intentions.
Generally, you want to be taking advice from (1) trustworthy people you know (2) people who know more than you.
Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn't mean you have to listen to them. In times of crisis and problem-solving, be selective about whom you get advice from.
It also depends on your personality type. Are you the sort that is easily swayed? In that case, don't just ask anyone and everyone, and take Google searches with a pinch of salt. Make sure you curate who you are seeking advice from.
If you have a clear head and logical mind, you can cast your net wider. Just make sure you digest the advice and think twice before you act on anything.
1. Choose something you actually like
The best way to be successful at anything is to actually have a passion to do it. This keeps you wanting to do your job for the long-term and means that your career is sustainable.
If you're internally motivated as an employee, to want to do the work, to want to help the company grow, every company would love to hire you.
1. Narrow down the root cause
If you're feeling unmotivated and unhappy in your job, examine the root cause. Is it really your job that is making you unhappy or is it some other personal factors? Only by deeply examining the root cause, you can then fix it by taking inspired action.
What exactly makes you unhappy about your job? Is it the work environment, the people, your colleagues, your boss? Is it the lack of recognition? The disorganized workflow? Too much or too little responsibility? Or the compensation and benefits?
By narrowing down the source of your discontent, you can take inspired action to target the cause. If it's the work environment, this can sometimes be easily solved by having an honest chat with your colleagues or bosses. If it's compensation, maybe you need to ask for a raise. If it's stress from the amount of work, maybe you need to ask for help. If it's the nature of work itself, this may require a deeper think and a serious talk with your bosses to get into the type of work you want to do, or even contemplate switching jobs or industries.
Many people take career breaks, especially women who choose to take a few years off to nurture their young children. Trying to rejoin the workforce can be daunting, but there are nevertheless several career options that is relatively easier to re-enter even after a break from the workforce.
1. Teacher (Traditional, Tuition, Creative fields, Online etc.)
One of the best options to re-enter the workforce after a long break is teaching. Especially if you have a university degree, this is one of the easiest to get into due to the ever-green demand. Even if you don't have a degree, there is still a wide variety of options, and almost any skill or interest you have can be transferable as a "teachable" option. For instance, music, art, fitness or even coding for kids! With technology, you can even consider online teaching, which expands the variety of jobs you are able to take on by accessing the global student marketplace.
Unlike other jobs, teaching doesn't really discriminate against long breaks. While you do need to upskill yourself with the relevant materials, the most important is probably a friendly attitude and desire to nurture students.
If being a school teacher is too daunting (you do need NIE training), tuition teachers is probably the way to go. Not only is it very flexible in nature, you can do it at both a centre or at home, and there is always a demand in Singapore. If you're good with young kids, you can also consider kindergarten and Montessori.
If you have unique skills and interests, creative industries such as art classes, pottery classes, or even calligraphy are great fields that you can teach to both kids & adults. Another lucrative area are music classes such as violin or piano. If you have a science or math background, you can consider Coding Camps for kids. If you're a fitness enthusiast, there are so many areas you could explore. From taekwondo to kids, yoga and pilates classes, and even personal training. As you can see, the variety of teaching fields are only getting wider, so be open to opportunities and think outside the box!
Additionally, online teaching is a growing field. This could range from university part-time lecturing, teaching English online to kids from other countries (or any other language), and even creating your own online courses.
Finally, it is very important to keep your resume relevant. If you've been out of the workforce for some time, make sure you know how to craft it to appeal to employers. See our articles on how to craft your resume here.
A recent career survey with 1,000 executives showed that they had no regrets making these career moves.
1. Quitting a job they didn't like - 56%
Life is too short to be stuck in a job you hate.
While you shouldn't up and quit with no savings or back-up plan, you should take steps to shift gears if you feel that this job is not for you.
When there is a will, there is a way. With today's fast-changing economy and job climate, changing jobs is no longer a big hassle. Spruce up your CV (How to upgrade your CV here) and get in touch with some recruiters. As long as you take the first step, there is no holding you back.
2. Changing fields or industries - 41%
Similar to the above, if you truly dislike the current field or industry you are in, or see no long-term potential, sometimes it's best to bite the bullet and just go for the change. Looks like the 1,000 executives agreed as well.
No change is too big, there are success stories of people going back to their school in their 40s and becoming a doctor. Ultimately, you are in charge of your own life. And we don't want to die with regrets.
1. Your first job
Your first job is important, it sets the tone for your entire career.
Choose wisely, and aim for the best. If you are trying to break into competitive niche areas, just keep trying until you get there.
In the beginning, it is tempting to think short-term and make decisions to get paid more or get promoted quickly. If you ask the people who have done very well in their careers, they all emphasize that it is more important to adopt a long-term view of your career. Do the things that benefit you in the long-term. Don't sacrifice the forest for a tree.
In practical terms, you may want to pick a company where you learn the most, where you are being challenged and have good mentors, even if it means you are not being paid the highest bonuses or have the fanciest title. Focus on developing your skills. In the long-term, having the right foundational skill-sets will truly bring you far.
You are only young once. You have the time and energy to try your best, in any competitive field. You can hustle, and this really counts in the first stage of your career. People are also very understanding when you are young and new, and are more willing to give you room to make mistakes. This stage is also the time to find good mentors, and prove yourself to them. Don't think about how they can benefit you, think about how you can benefit them. Providing value is the best way to network.
In this series, SuccessGoGo interviews successful professionals from banking, consulting and law to provide helpful insights on climbing the corporate ladder. In this interview, SuccessGoGo sat down with Michael, an investment banker at a leading investment bank in Singapore.
What's the best part about being a banker?
The width of exposure to multiple industries and businesses, interaction with leaders of industry and c-suite level management very early on in career and learning from senior bankers.
Did anything at school help prepare you for the job?
The soft skills you learn (teamwork, communications, project management, etc) in school probably matter a lot more than whatever is officially taught as part of your degree. The caveat is that you will also polish your technical and financial skills and knowledge to the level needed to pass the interviews and start on the job.
In this series, SuccessGoGo interviews successful professionals from banking, consulting and law to provide helpful insights on climbing the corporate ladder. In this interview, SuccessGoGo sat down with Amanda, a corporate lawyer at a Big 4 law firm in Singapore.
What's the best part about being a lawyer?
The satisfaction of working on a big deal and seeing it to completion, the camaraderie with colleagues (sharing the pain!) and having good bosses.
Did anything at school help prepare you for the job?
The rigor of NUS does help you get a taste of the pressures of working life, and you start to learn how to get good at being productive. Similar to figuring out "how to study", figuring out "how to work", i.e., how to churn out tasks effectively is very helpful during life as a junior associate. The friends you make are also important as the legal community is small and your classmates are often also your colleagues or opposing counsel.