Studying at Cambridge and plenty of work experience — but are my A-levels holding me back?

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By Legal Cheek on

I have been unsuccessful in every round for open days, vacation schemes and training contracts applications

Image credit: Steve Cadman via Wikipedia

In the latest instalment in our Career Conundrums series, one aspiring solicitor wants to get to the bottom of her training contract failure.

I am an LLB graduate and aspiring corporate solicitor hoping to qualify in London. I was hoping to get some perspective/advice on my situation.

I moved from France aged 16 and started my A-levels in the UK. Because of the difficulties that come with studying in a new language I attained grades ACC, which was disappointing as my grades had always been good while in France.

These grades meant I had to go through clearing and ended up studying at an ex-poly ranked roughly 50th in the league tables. I graduated in the summer with a first. While at university I managed to do plenty of work experience at the pro bono clinic, at several high street firms, and in a small family-run commercial firm. I did a mini-pupillage too. I am now fluent in English and next year I will be doing a masters in world history at Cambridge, which has always been an interest of mine.

My problem is that I have been unsuccessful in every round for open days, vacation schemes, and training contracts applications in the City. I put many hours into these applications and have specifically applied to commercial firms that do not set a minimum A-level requirement. However I don’t get past the online application.

Is it my A-level grades holding me back? If so, should I try to re-take them? Or should I stop applying to the City and try to secure a TC at a high street firm instead? And if I were to secure one, how difficult would it be moving to a smaller commercial/mid-sized commercial set as an NQ?

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