This week’s episode with Alaa was a particularly moving one, as she detailed her journey into the world of Law as well as the challenges she has faced on the way.
Should young people engage in politics?
For many young people in the UK, politics can seem far removed from their lived experiences. However, it was very refreshing to hear Alaa’s perspective on what politics means and what it entails. As a youth parliamentary representative for Slough from a young age, she was directly involved in representing her peers which gave her an understanding of the formal political frameworks which govern the country. What was interesting though, was the fact that she stressed that politics is much more than formal institutions and the parliamentary debates we witness on TV. I feel the saying, “The personal is political” captures the sentiment that Alaa was expressing as she explained how politics has an impact on every area of our lives, from the schools we go to, to the way our families are structured. Indeed this is evident in the example she gave of youth clubs which were pivotal to building a sense of community where she grew up but due to government underfunding there are fewer and fewer around which has inevitability had knock-on effects on the lives of youth. Alaa’s story shows that rather than being idle and allowing these things to happen to us we should let our voices be heard and be more involved in the decisions that determine the way we live our lives.
Control what you can
On that theme of taking control, Alaa shared that she was driven by a desire to succeed at everything she could control. In life, there are so many variables that we can’t control, such as where we’re born and who raises us but if we focus on the things that we can control, we are bound to find more success. In Alaa’s case, she knew that if she focussed on her academics and worked towards her career prospects she would be able to create a good future for herself. From putting hours researching law firms to actively networking with people, this allowed her to create better circumstances for herself. Another thing you can control is how you present yourself and the topic of authenticity came up when we spoke. You can control the extent to which you are true to yourself in most situations and while there may be pressure to conform and change yourself to fit the mould.
Game-changing career tips
Alaa’s authenticity has paid off as she has pursued a career in law. Over the course of the podcast, she shared some key tips on how to succeed in the field, here are 2 that stuck out to me (which are applicable for most industries besides law):
Do your research
Researching which firms you want to apply to is key so you apply to firms that align with your values and are a good fit for your personality. Not surface level but a deep dive. Research on spring weeks, vacation schemes and every programme they run under the sun. Create a spreadsheet to track progress and a Powerpoint to remember key information.
Build valuable experiences
It is important to build valuable experiences that make you a better-rounded candidate. In Alaa’s case, her involvement in youth politics demonstrated her desire to better her community. In doing so, she can confidently communicate her experiences to employers and show the valuable skills developed in the process. Your experiences do not have to be corporate but communicated well with a clear explanation of what you did and how it will benefit the firm. For example, prior to any formal work experience gained, I often use my experiences creating a chicken wrap and clothing business to communicate my entrepreneurial mindset, drive and marketing efforts.
Turning pain into purpose
In life, challenges and setbacks are inevitable. In Alaa’s case, the setbacks she faced may seem overwhelming to some, but I was inspired by the fact that she used this pain to fuel her purpose. Pursuing her passions gave her a sense of purpose amidst the challenges she faced and also led to an interesting perspective on success. Rather than seeing success as an achievement for you as an individual, it was great to see Alaa stress the importance of sharing these moments with those you love who are irreplaceable.
Featuring Alaa Fawaz
You've sat on a range of panels as a keynote speaker. What would you advise someone who wants to join a panel to talk about something they're passionate about?
Personal branding is crucial, thinking about what you stand for and how you represent yourself to others. Practice introducing yourself to others, what do you want them to know you for. Once people are aware of the things you care about and they know you have something insightful to say on a specific topic, naturally people will reach out to you if you create the conditions for them to do so. That is of course not to say that you should force a persona, you should always remain authentic!
What programmes or schemes would you recommend for someone to accelerate their entry into the law industry?
If you come from an underrepresented background, I definitely recommend joining social mobility organisations such as UpReach, Rare Recruitment, SEO London and Social Mobility Foundation. They provide you with a lot of support and guidance throughout your journey, right from the beginning. They host mentoring programmes and lead workshops on the law industry, offer application and interview guidance and more!
How do you plan to balance your content creation on TikTok with a corporate law career? Do you believe there would be any conflicts?
It will certainly require time organisation, I guess it is about remembering that TikTok is something that I enjoy doing but I will, of course, prioritise my legal career. There are no restrictions with TikTok, I do not have to post all the time if there are other pressing things happening in my life!
Listen to the full episode on a platform of your choice: https://linktr.ee/valuablepodcast