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Career choice: Corporate law programme manaager

Khatidja Janmohammed  

Name: Khatidja Janmohamed
Level of PQE: 4 years
Current position and immediate former position: Corporate law programme manager at Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO London). Formerly graduate recruitment executive at Freshfields.

Why did you go into the law in the first place?

Growing up in an international environment, I developed an interest in languages and global legal issues, and undertook a Law with European Study degree. During university, I set my sights on becoming a corporate lawyer, combining my interests in the legal and business worlds.

What was your first job as a qualified solicitor?

I completed a training contract at Linklaters, rotating between equity and debt markets, project finance, pensions, and trusts. On qualification, I moved into graduate recruitment at Linklaters, before moving to Latham & Watkins, and then Freshfields.

What was your reason(s) for choosing your career path?

As a trainee, I became heavily involved in graduate recruitment - I enjoyed how people-focused the work was, and the creative and commercial balance. I soon realised that this was a career I wanted to pursue. During my time in graduate recruitment, I became increasingly responsible for diversity and social mobility initiatives, as this was my particular passion. I was familiar with SEO and, started to consider working for a charity supporting aspiring City lawyers from under-represented backgrounds.

What steps did you take to make that move a reality (include details of resources that you found particularly helpful)?

I was determined to prove I was serious about my first move, and volunteered for a range of graduate recruitment projects. This enabled me to show a good understanding of the role I was applying for. In relation to my second move, I sought further responsibility on diversity and social mobility initiatives, so that when an opportunity arose, I had the requisite experience.

How easy or difficult did you find the move?

Transitioning at Linklaters made my first move much smoother, as I already had a large firm network and understood the business. Having trained as a lawyer has been invaluable in both transitions, as I know what lawyers look for in future trainees and, having gone through assessment processes myself, I know what candidates look for in firms, and the challenges they face.

What do you consider to have been the key factor in enabling you to make that successful move?

For both transitions, my determination and enthusiasm were essential. I also tried to ensure I had as much experience as possible before making the respective transitions.

How did you find the transition after you made the move?

Both transitions have been great experiences, have enabled me to meet a huge range of people, have developed me in different ways, and have kept life interesting!

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

The best feeling is knowing that I am helping some exceptional and inspiring candidates achieve their career aspirations.

What did you learn about how to make change effectively and what would you have done differently?

Though my career changes happened quite organically, I undertook considerable research and spoke to several contacts, which helped ensure it was the right decision for me. Moves can be difficult to contemplate, but that should not deter a transition if you have considered it carefully. I would try to worry less!

What are your three tips for a successful change in career direction?

  • Be open to exciting opportunities.
  • Believe in yourself and really understand why you want to make the career change.
  • Do your homework so that you ensure you are in the best possible position to make the move.