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  • Phoebe Tissiman

Bagging the BBC!

“We would be absolutely delighted if you would join us at the BBC as a trainee solicitor”

*collapses into tears in the middle of Leeds city centre*

I had envisioned this day for a long, long time. I had played the scene over and over in my head. I cannot even begin to explain the feeling of pure elation when I FINALLY received the call.

But let me rewind and tell you the tale from the beginning …

I decided I wanted to be a solicitor in first year, but I didn’t really kick into gear until final year. I gravitated towards private practice because this was all I knew and what everyone else seemed to do. I started applying for vac schemes and training contracts and got absolutely nowhere. I couldn’t even make it past the first stage. I had the skills, grades and experience but no one would give me a look in. Something wasn’t right, but I had no idea what. In hindsight, PP was not for me. In all fairness, I hated doing the applications. After rejection number 12 (seriously), I’d had enough. I was going to focus on my finals, take a year off and figure things out.

But then in April, my university careers’ team sent an email about the BBC legal graduate apprenticeship scheme where successful candidates would train and qualify under the new SQE/QWE route. After a bit of umm’ing and ahh’ing, and honestly not knowing if I could put myself through another application, I decided to give it a go.

The first round was a standard application, but I really REALLY enjoyed doing it (bizarre, right?). Applying for an in-house role felt like a breath of fresh air. With PP, I had really struggled to articulate myself on paper. Everything felt forced and robotic. But the BBC was different. I did all my usual stuff – researched thoroughly, gained advice from friends/uni careers team, networked with individuals in the industry, spent a lot of time drafting, tweaking and perfecting. I was really proud of what I’d written. So, what was different? My application was genuinely authentic. It showed my personality, something I hadn’t dared to do before. I literally wrote how Normal People ‘broke my heart into a million pieces’. I felt like I couldn’t be this ‘real’ with PP applications; I felt really restricted in what I could write. Given the nature of the BBC though and the fact that it was in-house, showing my personality just came so naturally.

A month later, I was invited to take the Watson Glaser and a psychometric test. I don’t think you ever complete tests like this and think you’ve done well. I was absolutely convinced I’d fluffed it. My only advice for the WG is to practice. You have to forget everything you know and think how the test wants you to think. There are a wealth of resources online to help you as well. As for the psychometric test, I completed a series of ‘games’ like memorising a sequence. You can’t really prep for something like this, you’ve just got to give it a go and trust your instincts.

Two weeks later, I was emailed a written exercise with a two-week deadline. These come in various forms, but my top tips would be to write succinctly and clearly, consider both legal AND commercial concerns and think about the context (who are you writing to? what is your role? what is your task? what team are you in?). As a musical theatre child, I liked to ‘put myself in character’ to truly understand what was expected of me.

A week later – I was invited to the assessment centre. The final stage. I couldn’t believe it.

The AC consisted of a competency-based interview, a group project and an ‘informal’ chat with current trainees. I was nervous but I was so excited. I felt so ready. The AC was intense, but I remember finishing it and thinking ‘I want this so bad’. I just knew it was the perfect place for me. The people, the company, the culture, the job, the fact it was in-house. I could really imagine myself working there and being part of that team.

Two days later, I got the call.

I’m moving to London in 2 weeks to start the SQE full-time at the Moorgate campus and will start work at the BBC in December. I pinch myself every day and catch myself grinning like the Cheshire cat when I tell people about my job.

I am fully aware how cut-throat this profession is and how ridiculously difficult it is to get a TC. It requires an insane amount of perseverance, resilience and adaptability. Getting knocked down is an inevitability but if I can do it – so can you. You will get there eventually. You will end up in a job you genuinely want and genuinely belong in.

If anyone, at any stage of their journey would like to chat, feel free to send @trainwithtiss a message on Insta.

My top tips for in-house applications;

- Show your personality and be yourself!

- Thoroughly research the role/company to truly understand how the company operates, what you are applying for and how your role will contribute to the wider business

- Network!!! Connect with trainees at the company to gain a deeper insight

- Use your resources – speak to your friends for advice, make appointments with careers, practice interviewing on your parents. Take all the help you can get

- Demonstrate commercial awareness – think about legal AND commercial issues.

Phoebe Tissiman

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