How to network virtually: A Q&A featuring graduate recruiters from Allen & Overy and Pinsent Masons

For this week’s article, I interviewed Graduate Recruiter Kevin Graham from Pinsent Masons and Graduate Recruiter Emma Barker from Allen & Overy to hear their views on how candidates can stay connected.

During this time of uncertainty for graduates and aspiring lawyers, I believe that speaking with recruiters themselves is the best way to see how you can make the most of the lockdown! 

Please enjoy and feel free to contact me if you have any questions – over to the recruiters.

What current opportunities are there for students to network virtually?

Kevin Graham:

I would definitely suggest to connect on LinkedIn, reach out to Graduate Recruitment teams – even if you don’t want to message them at this stage it’s good to receive the updates on your feed. Keep an eye on the event sections of any firm you are interested in applying to as events can be announced at short notice or reach capacity quickly. Don’t forget resources such as Legal Cheek and AllAboutLaw who are running various events over the next few months.

Emma Barker:

We are planning to host a number of webinars in the coming months so that students can get to know A&O (albeit remotely.) Please keep an eye on our event listings on aograduate.comAs well as our virtual events, we will also be attending a number of virtual careers fairs which will be attended by multiple employers. These will be taking place later on in the year, from September onwards.I’d also encourage students/graduates to follow our Instagram account (@aomadeformore) as we are regularly posting content on this channel and have hosted several trainee takeovers in the past month.

How are students networking virtually significant/important to you as a recruiter?

Kevin Graham:

One of my favourite parts of my role is speaking to so many students up and down the country, this year it’s unlikely we will be able to do that but we will be able to speak to students on calls or virtual events which could mean speaking to more students. I think it is essential for students to network with potential firms to establish if they see themselves working at that firm. It also means you can find out what the firm is looking for and then tailor your application to suit. 

Emma Barker:

It is always important to think about your network and to stay connected. I’d take the opportunity to map out your network and think about any gaps you may have or people in your existing network you could leverage. Remember, it’s not just your professional/employer network you can consider but also your peer network and any other groups/communities you may be part of. Different networks can provide different things such as opportunities to upskill or for mentorship. LinkedIn is a great platform not only to connect and network with employees, but also to explore peoples career trajectories and industry/firm specific news.

Do you think the shift to online networking instead of being in person from September will hinder those seeking vacation schemes and training contracts?

Kevin Graham:

I don’t think online networking will event replace traditional face to face networking but it is here to stay. Students should focus on the positives of virtual networking and attend more events than they possibly could have in person. I think if students make the most of the opportunities by getting involved in the conversations (have potential questions written prior to the event), turning on their camera if they have one (rather than just audio/chat) and following up with anyone they network with, they will see a positive result. 


Emma Barker:

At the moment we don’t know exactly what the situation will look like in September. I’d encourage students to be prepared for both situations – continued virtual networking or a phased approach back into networking in person. Remember, everyone is the same position and many firms are essentially operating virtually at the moment, so they too are having to build and establish relationships with colleagues, some of which they have not yet met (due to people starting at the firm during COVID-19). It is a time of uncertainty but also opportunity and I think there will be access to lots of firms and their people online, which will support with any applications you wish to make.

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