Leadership, innovation, and professionalism

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Joshua, and I currently reside in London, where I was born and raised. I studied a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) from 2018 to 2021 at The University of Manchester. Since graduating, I have undertaken internships in finance, law, and consulting. I was recently offered a training contract with Travers Smith LLP, a city law firm based in London. In 2024, after completing the Law Foundation Course and the Solicitors Qualifying Exam, I will begin training to become a qualified solicitor.

How are leadership, innovation, and professionalism important in your current role?

I would say that professionalism is an essential skill as it encompasses a lot of traits and attitudes needed to succeed in a corporate environment, which I have cultivated during my time at Manchester and the various opportunities I have undertaken. Being able to navigate an environment such as the legal profession, where the day-to-day business involves interacting with colleagues, clients, and other external contacts, means I have to operate in a manner that highly represents my firm and organisation.

Leadership is important and is intertwined with innovation well, as I will often have to be a self-starter. Being an individual who can lead on projects, matters, and tasks (and do so in an innovative way) is something that will put me in good stead, especially as a junior.

How did you develop each of these skills during your degree?

I would say I developed all three skills mentioned above during my degree when I founded and led The 93% Club Manchester, a social mobility society dedicated to upskilling and enriching the experiences of state-educated students on campus. Founding and leading the society allowed me to develop my leadership skills through working with other committee members to achieve a collective goal: promoting the club and helping state-educated students across the University.

I developed Professionalism within this period by interacting with faculties and departments across the university, in addition to interacting with employers and organisations for financial sponsorships and partnerships to aid the work the society does.

Finally, I developed innovation within this capacity by thinking of ways to organically grow the society and make it stand out on campus. I ultimately would say that this experience and many others I have encountered during my degree cultivated and enhanced these skillsets.

How did these skills help you get your first graduate job?

I was able to speak about my previous experiences and link these experiences to the skills I developed during my degree. This helped me to secure training contracts with notable city firms. Talking about experiences where I demonstrated innovation, leadership, and professionalism in a confident, structured, and compelling way helped inform interviewers about my overall journey and personality - thus making me stand out from other applicants and candidates in very competitive recruitment processes. Ultimately, the skills I developed were my unique selling points and were the main differentiators for making me stand out.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of first graduate job?

The main factor that influenced my decision to work in commercial/corporate law was the overlap between my interests and my academic background. Commercial law is very focused on business. The topics I covered throughout PPE were an exciting background to work experience I had through various legal internships and vacation schemes.

Ultimately, the type of law I am interested in is mainly around private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and banking and finance. The law firm I am going to train at are leaders in those departments and are reputable for what they do, which was the main selling point to train there and go into commercial law.