From the flirts to the narcissists, don’t be these people
For some, university careers events are a brilliant opportunity to speak to City trainees and graduate recruitment teams. If you play it right, you’ll gather valuable advice that will stay with you forever; but lots of people don’t. Luckily for us, Judgemental Observer has found that careers events provide the perfect chance to stand by the free food table and relentlessly judge people. Here’s their take on the horrors they’ve had the trauma of witnessing.
1. The waste of space
Underprepared, confused, and asking stupid questions, or just standing around awkwardly too shy to engage in discussion — there’s always one.
Careers event networking is super good practice for interviews (and professional life in general), but too many students just chat to each other and don’t speak up. Then when they do pluck up enough courage to speak, it’s to ask something like what practice areas the firm has, which could be found out online. I was at one event where one student asked a trainee what criminal work their firm does. The trainee kindly explained that they were actually from a commercial law firm, but I don’t think I ever quite recovered from the awkwardness.
Too many people make the fatal error of not going in with an agenda, not knowing the key information they want to find out. It’s fair enough if you’re a first year; you’re only just joining the hunt for a training contract. But these events are a key chance to pile up ammunition for application forms which will make them stand out. You’re just wasting time if you’re not seizing the opportunity.
2. That person that already has a TC
Why are they even here!? They will listen in to conversations and ask where you have applied, waiting for a key chance for them to brag that they already have a training contract. Congratulations to you, now you just need to get a life.
Okay, so they probably just want some of the free champagne, but it’s not really fair for them to be hogging the trainees when someone who has never had an interview is desperate for advice. If you come across this type of annoying person, tell them to go home.
3. The self-interested narcissist
The narcissist viciously guards their trainee like a lion guards its prey as it picks it to pieces. It’s all about them, and they rapid-fire questions at the trainee.
Or worse. They describe all of the volunteering they have done and talk over other people. We don’t need to hear your whole CV, including the dates, times and addresses of all four vacation schemes you’ve done. Social etiquette dictates that you wait until the present conversation has finished and then ask your question, but the narcissist never stops talking. Sometimes you have to just interrupt and save the poor trainee.
4. The useless trainee
There’s always a trainee that gives you evasive, cop-out answers. I always questioned trainees on the work/life balance at their firm, and I can’t believe how many times I heard: “No day is the same; it really depends what deals are being worked on and what department you’re in.” Not helpful.
Just as useless is when you ask them why they chose to become a commercial solicitor, and they say “I just always wanted to be a lawyer” or “I just fell into the law, needed a good job”. Hardly inspiring.
When I asked firm representatives what differentiates their firm from competitors, I always got terrible answers. Most trainees would say their culture and colleagues, which made me roll my eyes, while HR people smile snidely and say: “That’s for you to research and find out.” What are you here for then?
5. The inappropriate drunks and flirts
I have gasped in horror and laughed hysterically on more than one occasion watching students and trainees interact inappropriately at careers events.
It is reassuring that most of the lawyers at careers events are personable. If a firm’s slogan is ‘a 2.1 who is fun’ then I’m fully expecting the trainees they send to be fun and not utterly dull. But some take it to the next level. After one evening event the trainees were encouraging us all to go out to a club with them. I doubted much would be learnt about the legal profession on the dancefloor. At another event the firm had arranged a free bar, which led to some people getting extremely drunk and rowdy.
I always enjoy watching the ones who try and flirt their way to an interview. Some trainees love the attention, and I have seen more than one student take a trainee from a careers event back home with them. These events are for professional networking, but some treat it like they’re on Love Island, coupling up with any lawyer that takes their fancy. That’s not how you get a training contract unfortunately.
Judgemental Observer is a future trainee who has had more than their fair share of awkward university careers event encounters.