Tips for Grads: Stay True to You at Clayton Utz

If you’ve recently finished your degree and want real world experience, you can’t do much better than a graduate position. No matter what you study, there will always be a gap between theory and practice. If you want to put the finishing touches on your degree and get the experience that employers are looking for, a graduate position is a must. 

But how can you get one? It’s no secret that these positions are in high demand. With so many people competing for jobs, you can’t afford to not put your best foot forward. 

To help you get into these great opportunities, JobGetter has approached some of the best Graduate Employers in Australia. These Tips for Grads can help ensure your presenting the best version of yourself to graduate employers. This week, Alicia PasquiniNational Graduate Resourcing Consultant at Clayton Utz, brings her unique experience and insider knowledge to graduate job seekers.

That is the whole idea behind Tips for Grads. To give graduates like you a chance to see what some of the best graduate employers in Australia are doing and how you can impress them.

Read on to get Alicia’s advice…

Clayton Utz

Clayton Utz is one of Australia’s largest law firms, with a rich history and a reputation for standing out – as a leader in pro bono, in the quality of the services and unique experiences it provides its clients, and for the talented and diverse group of people it attracts. They have a large partnership – currently 172 partners and 1,594 lawyers and business support people working across offices in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Darwin. They also have strong relationships with the very best law firms in the US, UK, Canada and other key jurisdictions, with opportunities for international secondments and to work on cross-border matters. The firm was awarded Australian Law Firm of the Year at the 2018 Chambers Asia-Pacific Awards reflecting their reputation both domestically and internationally as a leading firm.

Clayton Utz is particularly proud of their globally recognised Pro Bono practice. In 2015, they reached the milestone of over 500,000 hours of pro bono legal services including not-for-profit associations and some of Australia’s most disadvantaged and marginalised individuals. The firm is also proud of their Community Connect program and the Clayton Utz Foundation, which in 2018 celebrated 15 years of giving back to and volunteering in our communities.

Clayton Utz has made a big investment in their graduate program. They want their future leaders to have the best possible introduction to the firm, and a solid foundation from which to start their legal career. For several years now the firm has run a two and a half week national orientation program in Sydney which brings together all of their graduates from every office. Graduates are also paired with mentors and receive focused feedback to help them adapt to and understand the dynamics of the working environment. There is a focus on continuing learning and development opportunities, both professional and personal, to support graduates as they transition to different stages of their careers.

Clayton Utz is proud of their diverse workforce and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply. Diversity at Clayton Utz includes diversity of thought, background, experience, personal circumstances, education, religion, sexuality, gender, age, cultural background and ability/disability. That diversity helps to generate new ideas, creates more effective teams and relationships, and is a key enabler to attract, develop and retain the very best people.

Would you like the opportunity to grow professionally, help people in your community, and develop important real world experience? If you said YES! then Clayton Utz might be the graduate employer for you.

Alicia’s Tips for Grads

What was your first job?

A Research Manager for a Marketing Research company.

How long have you worked in HR?

9 years. 

What do you look for in graduates?

We’re looking for people who are personable, practical, commercially-savvy, as well as flexible. Our lawyers undertake complex and innovative legal work, so it’s important that our clerks and graduates are motivated individuals who aren’t afraid of a challenge. We’re also interested in learning more about people’s outside interests. It’s important to have a life outside of work and we support that.

Most importantly, we are looking for people we’d enjoy working alongside. We want clerks and graduates who embody the firm’s behavioural values of trust, respect and co-operation and our foundation value of highest ethical standards in all that they do.

What advice would you give to graduates looking to stand out?

Be yourself! It’s easy to get caught up in the overwhelming application process and be concerned about ticking certain boxes. We want to know the real you and see your personality, so don’t be afraid to show your true self!

What’s something people might not know about working at Clayton Utz?

Pro bono is a fundamental part of what it means to be a lawyer at Clayton Utz. We were the first large Australian law firm to establish an in-house pro bono practice; the first to appoint a full-time pro bono partner; and the first to sign the National Pro Bono Target. Since 1997, our commitment to pro bono has helped to shape what it means to be a leading Australian law firm. In 2015, we became the first law firm in Australia to provide 500,000 hours of pro bono assistance (and counting).

What thing makes a graduate’s application stand out to you?

A well rounded applicant. We value all types of work experience, volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities, club participation, sporting or other involvement as well as unique experiences such as study abroad, travel or immersion programs.

What’s the number one mistake to avoid when applying for a graduate position?

Attention to detail is very important. You would be surprised at how often we see covering letters addressed to the wrong firm!

What do you look for during the interview?

Personality, confidence, problem-solving skills, flexibility, resilience and an eagerness to learn.

What questions should graduates never ask?

We want people to ask curious questions and show that they have a genuine interest in the firm and in what we do and stand for. Not having any questions, or appearing disinterested, is unlikely to impress.

What do you wish more candidates would do or say?

Ask questions and have a positive attitude. Both go a long way!

What should graduates know about Clayton Utz before applying?

Our culture is founded on the behavioural values of trust, respect and co-operation, and our foundation value of highest ethical standards. These values underpin everything we do. It affects the way we approach each other and our work, our service to our clients and our community involvement. We celebrate this in action through our Living the Values awards. Our people make our culture – and why we have such a great culture.

What advice would you give to someone who was unsuccessful in applying?

Don’t get discouraged. There are plenty of opportunities out there. Just because you weren’t successful at one firm, doesn’t mean you won’t be successful at another firm.

Final thought: Widen Your Horizons

Practical experience helps to give you the edge in a competitive employment market. As a graduate, you may have impressive qualifications, but lack the real-world experience and people skills are important in a work environment. Securing a graduate position with an employer like Clayton Utz can help you learn a range of skills to set you on the path to career success.

Well-designed graduate programs also help transform students into employees as they provide consistent training and feedback. Use this opportunity to continue developing your soft skills and expanding your career network.

A graduate position at Clayton Utz is an excellent way to develop your practical skills and real world abilities. Although the competition can be steep, these positions are one of the best ways to launch your career. Don’t baulk at the opportunity though. Rise up to the occasion and show everyone why you deserve the role. Just remember what Alicia said and don’t be “afraid of a challenge!


Want to join Clayton Utz?

Are you looking to get some practical experience? Maybe you want to use your talents to help people in need by getting experience on pro bono matters. The graduate program at Clayton gives people who are taking their first steps into the legal world the opportunity to learn and grow. They will provide with that real world experience and help guide your development. If you are ready, keep Alicia’s notes with you and take the plunge on one of the many clerkship and graduate program opportunities at Clayton Utz.

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