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Article written by Ola Alice, Babcock University, Third year LLB.
As students, we are taught what to expect, we are taught what to do, we are taught what methods to work with and what employers might require. Could there perhaps be more beyond these things? Could there be more beyond what we try to foresee? Could there be more beyond what we can see? Do companies operate mainly on what people know on the face value about them? Should students have to wait till they graduate before they are adequately prepared for the practical aspect of the business world?
According to Bright Network, a leading platform that connects students and graduates with employers in different companies, COMMERCIAL AWARENESS is “an understanding of how industries and businesses work”. It is the understanding of how the business world as well as the industry you wish to work or are working for, works.
Commercial awareness involves both knowledge and experience. This means you should not only know how an industry operates; you should also be able to show proof of your knowledge i.e., what business experience do you have? What do you understand by the term ‘business’? What could you add to the growth of the company you wish to work for? What should your employers expect of you if you are employed? To sum it all up, what do you bring to the table?
Rudiments of Commercial Awareness
Any industry’s first goal is growth. To achieve this however, the employees must have this mindset. This is why as a student, you must be commercially aware. Recruiters want you to be able to spot areas that the company should work on, opportunities that the company should seek, things that pose as risks to the company, what new inventions or ideas could develop the company, how to serve customers better and how to add value to the company.
Commercial awareness is currently in-demand. Graduate recruiters want not just any graduate, they want a graduate that is commercially aware. Your commercial awareness could be assessed either during your application, during your interview or any time before you are recruited. Many applicants fail at the very beginning of their application process just because they were unable to show their commercial awareness. This is because recruiters see someone that is commercially aware as more passionate, more knowledgeable, and more motivated. Recruiters want to be able to see your great interest in the role you are applying for, and this can only be demonstrated by your commercial awareness.
Do Law Students Need to Be Commercially Aware?
Commercial awareness is important for all industries. As a law student, you can demonstrate your commercial awareness by showing your knowledge about how the legal industry works, factors that are affecting or might affect the industry (political, economic, social, legal, or even environmental) and future risks and opportunities that the legal industry might encounter.
How to Be Commercially Aware
Following all definitions and explanations of commercial awareness given above, there are four general ways to get commercially aware:
- Get experience through internships or work placements.
- Stay up-to-date by listening to podcasts or radio programmes that talk about commercial changes, risks, growth, and updates.
- Utilise your connection by having conversations with other law students or experts in the legal industry about commercial awareness.
- Read books, journals, and articles that talk about commercial awareness, discuss new improvements in the legal industry and analyse trends in the legal industry.
You can also apply the ‘SWOT’ method:
S – Strengths
W – Weakness
O – Opportunities
T – Threats
Identify the strengths, weakness, opportunities of and threats to the industry or company you are interested in. Research about the industry or the company. Discuss with your peers or experts about your findings.
Today, make a decision to be commercially aware.