Kindergarten Teacher applying for Vac schemes from abroad - Am I at a disadvantage?

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    Hey Everyone!

    I'm a mature student currently living in Hong Kong. I've spent the past 3 years working as an English teacher in a kindergarten, and am in the second year of the CPE of England and Wales (part time) at HKU, although the course is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University. I hold a British passport.

    I've been applying for training contracts and vac schemes in the UK, but nothing seems to be biting. I've sent out at least 10 applications between last year and this year and so far haven't even been accepted for an interview.

    I only scored 67 in my undergraduate degree (Russell Group Uni), but have achieved a Distinction in my first year of the CPE, including a 77 in contract.

    Given my poor record in getting past the application stage, I wonder if there was something fundamentally weak in my application: namely, am I being discounted because I am a) applying from abroad, or b) am a kindergarten teacher (which i guess might make me seem a bit ditzy or immature). Additionally, would I be at a disadvantage because of my course provider. I love the service I'm getting from MMU and HKU, but I know as a conversion course it's not as prestigious a place at say, CoL or BPP. Finally, I am going to be 25 this year; might I simply be too old to consider?

    I would appreciate some advice on this. The thought of spending another bunch of evenings on applications just be rejected at the first hurdle makes me feel a bit sick if i'm honest. Am I simply wasting my time?

    Cheers x
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    (Original post by awfulsplleling)
    Hey Everyone!

    I'm a mature student currently living in Hong Kong. I've spent the past 3 years working as an English teacher in a kindergarten, and am in the second year of the CPE of England and Wales (part time) at HKU, although the course is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University. I hold a British passport.

    I've been applying for training contracts and vac schemes in the UK, but nothing seems to be biting. I've sent out at least 10 applications between last year and this year and so far haven't even been accepted for an interview.

    I only scored 67 in my undergraduate degree (Russell Group Uni), but have achieved a Distinction in my first year of the CPE, including a 77 in contract.

    Given my poor record in getting past the application stage, I wonder if there was something fundamentally weak in my application: namely, am I being discounted because I am a) applying from abroad, or b) am a kindergarten teacher (which i guess might make me seem a bit ditzy or immature). Additionally, would I be at a disadvantage because of my course provider. I love the service I'm getting from MMU and HKU, but I know as a conversion course it's not as prestigious a place at say, CoL or BPP. Finally, I am going to be 25 this year; might I simply be too old to consider?

    I would appreciate some advice on this. The thought of spending another bunch of evenings on applications just be rejected at the first hurdle makes me feel a bit sick if i'm honest. Am I simply wasting my time?

    Cheers x
    It's not your academics based on what you have said (depends on your modules grades in your UG). No one cares where you studied the GDL though - there isn't really any "prestige" in where you study the GDL.

    It could be anything else - lack of evidence of pursuing the career, unclear or unrealistic career motivation, a poorly written form, lack of extra curriculars.

    The work experience in the kindergarten won't make you look ditzy. It depends on how you are selling it though. As you have done it for sometime there might be a question of why are you pursuing law now, or why you choosing now to pursue a very different career path. There might also be a question of why the UK if you have been in HK for quite some time.


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    (Original post by J-SP)

    It could be anything else - lack of evidence of pursuing the career, unclear or unrealistic career motivation, a poorly written form, lack of extra curriculars.

    The work experience in the kindergarten won't make you look ditzy. It depends on how you are selling it though. As you have done it for sometime there might be a question of why are you pursuing law now, or why you choosing now to pursue a very different career path. There might also be a question of why the UK if you have been in HK for quite some time.


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    Hmmmm. I'm not really sure where I'm going wrong then. I spent 3 weeks at a local high street type firm and have attended open houses at some bigger international firms. I've also spent the last bunch of years travelling and in forms tried to link that back to an international mindset, planning, organising, taking responsibility etc.

    I'm trying to sell the kindergarten work as work where I have to be responsible, perceptive and empathetic. There's also an element of inter-personal skills talking to parents and working with teaching assistants.

    As for why law, I'm trying to a) link it back to my work experience at a law firm, b) stating that I have a taste for international work and am attracted to the clients and size of the firms i'm applying for, and c) relate it to my degree (Philosophy); ie i enjoy creating and challenging intricate arguments.

    I'm not really sure i've hammered the "why UK" bit though. Maybe that's where I'm weak.

    Could I be lacking "commercial awareness"?
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    (Original post by awfulsplleling)
    Hmmmm. I'm not really sure where I'm going wrong then. I spent 3 weeks at a local high street type firm and have attended open houses at some bigger international firms. I've also spent the last bunch of years travelling and in forms tried to link that back to an international mindset, planning, organising, taking responsibility etc.

    I'm trying to sell the kindergarten work as work where I have to be responsible, perceptive and empathetic. There's also an element of inter-personal skills talking to parents and working with teaching assistants.

    As for why law, I'm trying to a) link it back to my work experience at a law firm, b) stating that I have a taste for international work and am attracted to the clients and size of the firms i'm applying for, and c) relate it to my degree (Philosophy); ie i enjoy creating and challenging intricate arguments.

    I'm not really sure i've hammered the "why UK" bit though. Maybe that's where I'm weak.

    Could I be lacking "commercial awareness"?
    Possibly - maybe combined with the high street practice work experience, there might be a question of "why commercial law?".

    It depends how recent your legal work experience is. If it is before your kindergarten work, there could be a question of why are you pursuing this only now (why not earlier)? If it is more recent, then that's less of an issue.

    The travelling will be interesting but too many people try to play this angle of liking going travelling to working in an international firm. Reality is for most people working in commercial firms, travelling is rare and when it does occult it takes the form of airport>office>hotel>office>airp ort. Some people make the connection and make it seem like their motivation is related to the fact they will travel with work. It shows a distinct lack of knowledge of what the day job is like.

    Firms will also want to see extra curricular a beyond travelling.

    It could be anything though. Something like a waffly application with a couple of typos is enough to not get invited to the next stage.


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    (Original post by J-SP)
    The travelling will be interesting but too many people try to play this angle of liking going travelling to working in an international firm. Reality is for most people working in commercial firms, travelling is rare and when it does occult it takes the form of airport>office>hotel>office>airp ort. Some people make the connection and make it seem like their motivation is related to the fact they will travel with work. It shows a distinct lack of knowledge of what the day job is like.

    Firms will also want to see extra curricular a beyond travelling.

    It could be anything though. Something like a waffly application with a couple of typos is enough to not get invited to the next stage.


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    Sorry, I should have been more clear. I've been trying to emphasise that from travelling i've developed an international mindset and an interest in cross border deals, multi national clients etc. I will try and round my extra curriculars out though.

    Would be ok to use extra-curriculars from my university days (3 years since I graduated) or should I be focussing exclusively on activities I do around work and study now?


    (Original post by J-SP)
    Possibly - maybe combined with the high street practice work experience, there might be a question of "why commercial law?".

    It depends how recent your legal work experience is. If it is before your kindergarten work, there could be a question of why are you pursuing this only now (why not earlier)? If it is more recent, then that's less of an issue.
    My work experience was a few months ago, during my summer holidays. In applications I'm trying to say that my experience working on commercial cases during that placement leads to my interest in commercial law. I'm also trying to contrast my kindergarten experience with commercial work (small scale impact work vs high impact work). If I have space I say that i've enjoyed doing things like negotiating salaries and rental leases and applying that to the work of commercial lawyers. I'll have a review and see if i can express myself a little more clearly.

    Is there anything I can do specifically that might demonstrate commercial awareness or an attraction to commercial law? I'm attending open houses in international law firms (one literally tonight), would this be enough?
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    (Original post by awfulsplleling)
    Sorry, I should have been more clear. I've been trying to emphasise that from travelling i've developed an international mindset and an interest in cross border deals, multi national clients etc. I will try and round my extra curriculars out though.

    Would be ok to use extra-curriculars from my university days (3 years since I graduated) or should I be focussing exclusively on activities I do around work and study now?




    My work experience was a few months ago, during my summer holidays. In applications I'm trying to say that my experience working on commercial cases during that placement leads to my interest in commercial law. I'm also trying to contrast my kindergarten experience with commercial work (small scale impact work vs high impact work). If I have space I say that i've enjoyed doing things like negotiating salaries and rental leases and applying that to the work of commercial lawyers. I'll have a review and see if i can express myself a little more clearly.

    Is there anything I can do specifically that might demonstrate commercial awareness or an attraction to commercial law? I'm attending open houses in international law firms (one literally tonight), would this be enough?
    The travelling point - it just rarely works linking your international mindset to travelling and then why you want to do law. Focus on the international mindset and other experience you have of that rather than the travelling.

    Like any other experiences, your extra curriculars do not expire. If you are asked about them, include them on the form. Obviously if you have anything more recent that include that too but it should be evidence of going out of your way to gain extra responsibility or making an ongoing commitment to something. Firms basically ask these questions to see that you like keeping busy, can balance multiple things, like responsibility and commit to things.

    Open days will be helpful in showing your interest in commercial law. It really depends on how it is assessed in an application though (varies massively between firms) but there isn't really one magic bullet that shows commercial awareness. It is much more a combination of your interest and pursuit of gaining knowledge of commercial aspects - and that can be demonstrated in some many different ways.






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