Burges Salmon runs fourth annual Bright Sparks work experience programme
We are committed to increasing access to quality work experience. For the fourth consecutive year, the firm has run its Bright Sparks work experience programme for 24 students aged 15 to 17.
Bright Sparks has been developed by the firm in accordance with the objectives of PRIME; an alliance of law firms and legal departments across the UK that offer work experience to young people from less privileged backgrounds, with the aim of broadening access to careers in the legal profession.
Through PRIME, Burges Salmon targets students who would be the first generation in their family to attend university, and/or receive free school meals. Of the 24 students taken on each year, the firm commits that at least 12 will meet this criteria set by PRIME.
Bright Sparks 2016 took place during 20 – 24 June and 4 – 8 July, and was attended by students from a range of different schools. Over the course of each week, the students were given the opportunity to develop their employability skills through interactive workshops, where they learnt about the importance of networking, practised their presentation skills, and fine-tuned their CVs with the help of the firm’s recruitment team.
A key aspect of the programme are the shadowing sessions, where students work under the supervision of lawyers and business services professionals based in legal departments and other areas such as Human Resources, Marketing and Finance. This highlights the many different career paths that are available within a large professional services firm, introducing the students to specialist job roles and legal departments that they may be unfamiliar with.
Additionally, the students are assigned a project to work on that culminates in a group presentation at the end of each week, in front of a panel including external guests from IntoUniversity, Envision and the University of Bristol. Parents and teachers are also invited. The project for 2016 was to design a marketing campaign to promote the new apprenticeships Burges Salmon recently launched.
Describing the programme, a Year 12 student from Wellsway School said: "I really enjoyed my experience at Burges Salmon. I met lots of new people, made friends and gained a better understanding of all the different roles in the legal profession. I also gained valuable skills such as presentation skills, CV writing and teamwork skills."
Burges Salmon’s corporate responsibility manager, Catherine Correia, said: “Once again we are pleased to have hosted the students and given them the opportunity to experience a structured work experience programme. It is always extremely rewarding to see how students develop over such a short period of time. They usually arrive on Monday feeling slightly nervous but by Friday they have all formed good working relationships. The quality of their presentations was excellent this year and we will be able to use some of their ideas for our apprenticeship recruitment campaign."
A parent of one of the participants commented that: “Bright Sparks is a wonderfully varied and thoughtfully constructed programme. I honestly can’t think of any additions that could be made to improve it."
Kelly Thomas, work experience co-ordinator at Fairfield High School, commented: "Our students really enjoyed their work experience week and have learnt so many skills to take forward in their chosen career. It was great to see them grow in confidence with their public speaking. Both students have said this experience has assured them the legal profession is the right choice."
Burges Salmon chief people officer, Robert Halton, said: “It is a real pleasure to see the students grow in confidence during their time with us, especially when it comes to the group presentations at the end of the week. This year they developed creative ideas to recruit legal apprentices into the firm, which was particularly relevant because our first intake of apprentices join this September."
For the first time this year, Burges Salmon organised an alumni event for Bright Sparks students, giving information about how to prepare for assessment centres. The firm will continue to provide this work experience programme along with its Law Information days and other programmes aimed at university students.