I have no problem with admitting that I may be late to the party with this one. With over 1.5 million students signed up to programs offered by Forage, I am probably correct in suspecting that many of you reading this article will have at least heard of it before, perhaps even used it. Granted, I did use the platform back in March of this year to take part in an assessment centre, but even then I was not aware of the vast array of programs offered by Forage. In the last few weeks, however, it has come to my attention just how many programs they offer, as well as how great an opportunity these programs are to gain an insight into the work undertaken by many law firms: not to mention the list of other non-law companies using the site. In case there are any 'newbies' out there who haven't yet experienced the delights Forage have to offer, I shall explain the concept as briefly as possible. Forage is a technology company which aims to make work experience more accessible, diverse and evenly distributed. They do this by collaborating with many companies (JP Morgan Chase & Co., BCG, KPMG, GE, Slaughter and May, Latham & Watkins, Goldman Sachs and Linklaters, to name but just a few) to create virtual work experience programs which are free and can be completed without having to go through assessment centres, interviews etc. They are self-paced, can be completed from anywhere in the world (as long as you have internet connection), and in the case of many but not all of the programs, culminate in being awarded a certificate of completion which can be used to bolster job applications and CV's.
I have now completed three programs, from which I have been awarded two certificates, and aim to complete several more. Consequently, I can tell you a few things from my own experience of using Forage and navigating through the programs which I hope will help and inspire you to do the same. In any event, the one biggest take-away from this article is this; take the opportunity to complete some of the programs they offer. Even if it's just one program, give Forage a go and I promise you won't regret it. For example, as someone who is due to start a new university course in January and has missed out on gaining experience through other avenues (due to personal commitments and unforeseen circumstances) prior to starting my course, it has been invaluable to be able to gain experience virtually, at a pace which fits around commitments with getting ready for the next chapter of my education, and has really helped to strengthen core legal skills and general transferable skills. Not only this, but I have now had the opportunity to explore many things I otherwise would be unlikely to have (Californian Evidence Code's, attorney-client privilege and the work product doctrine in the US, global litigation procedures, soft skill development such as through positive thinking and circles of control methods being just a few). Anyhow, here are some tips for undertaking these virtual experience programs.
ALWAYS take the time to properly read through the accompanying resources. Genuinely, some of the links to articles, videos, diagrams etc. I have come across as a result of doing these programs have been truly mind-opening and inspiring. Moreover, the resources provided have been instrumental in being able to fully understand the work, what's expected of you and to dispel any prima facie notions you may have about a task, case, method of learning which otherwise may have limited your abilities. It has always been useful as a way of providing a springboard from which my own further research has been guided. For example, when advising on Civil Procedure Rules, assisting in-house counsel to prepare for a board meeting on quantifying damages, or researching discovery options it has been a great tool to start my research from having these nifty resources close by.
Don't rush the tasks. I know that for some people the temptation to rush to the end in search of that coveted certificate may be niggling away at you, but honestly the lessons learned are easily worth taking your time over. How else would you come across an opportunity to try out drafting a memorandum on a specific point of law, presenting a pitch to earn a long-term client, or answering a clients questions? Where else would you be able to see the processes of a global litigation deal from beginning to end and get to try your hand at several tasks along the way? These tasks are so valuable at developing your commercial awareness, critical thinking, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, researching and drafting skills and so many others that you really ought to take the time with the tasks as they do make a big difference.
Linked in with the above point is that it's important to do it at your own pace. Yes, it may say that you should aim to complete the program in 'x' amount of hours, but that doesn't mean you should do half the program giving only 50% of your attention as you're tired or want to watch the football! If you have to spread it out so you do 3 hours a day for two days then so be it, at least you'll be absorbing the information and giving it a proper go! Whilst I did complete two of the programs in one sitting each, the other program I did complete over 2 days with a few days in between of reading my law books and enjoying Christmas, and there's nothing to be ashamed of in approaching a program like that. Just enjoy the program, take the lessons as something important, because they are, make sure you research properly for program tasks and pace yourself, that's all there is to it.
Right, I know I just said that's all there is to it, but there's one more thing. Don't shy away from doing programs that aren't directly associated with what you want to do career wise, after all it can be said that all experience is good experience. I, for example, am about to start a Barrister Training Course and am due to start applying for pupillage in a few days, but that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't complete programs centred around working in a law firm, or for HR at multi-national company, or for a bank. After all, it's all experience which helps you to further your skills, knowledge and abilities and helps to focus you with developing your personal brand. You never know, you could experience something which makes you realise what you want to specialise in, or try your hand at an entirely different industry and realise that's where you calling lies. And even if this doesn't happen, you've still gained experience which, especially in these pandemic times, would rarely be available elsewhere.
So, if you've made it to the end of this article, I applaud you for taking the time and effort to learn about Forage and to read what I believe are vitally important things to remember when approaching these programs. Now, click off this article and go and explore Forage!