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Northampton School for Boys

Northampton School for Boys

Making Links Schools Finalist 2020

The Making Links Schools Challenge is a competition aimed to help young students develop their commercial awareness and presentation skills. Part of the application process was the submission of a 500-word essay. 

If you take a quick peruse through the websites of the leading law firms operating in the UK, you will find one common word: “Innovation.” It is unsurprising that the given question was “WHAT HAS BEEN THE SINGLE BIGGEST DISRUPTION OR INNOVATION IN THE BUSINESS WORLD, WITHIN YOUR LIFETIME?”

Phong Ta in Year 12 entered the competition and was nominated as a finalist. He won £1000 for NSB to develop research skills in students and to fund projects that give students exposure to the business world. He is a true credit to the school, and he has used the lockdown period to develop his skill set through competitions and online work experiences, as well as continuing his studies to a very high standard.

Mrs Bradley-Brophy
Director of Sixth Form

Phong Ta
Year 12 Student
Making Links Schools Challenge – Linklaters

I received an email from a woman called Margaret Leach: “We are delighted to let you know that you have been selected as one of the finalists of our Making Links Schools Challenge.” I had only one week to consolidate my research. The COVID-19 pandemic meant the final was going virtual.

The first half of the day was run by Francesca Bortoli who was an Innovation Senior Advisor; this was all about learning about Linklaters as a firm. We also discussed the future of the business world and the changes in the legal industry – did you know half of the current jobs will be gone by 2050? An amusing and thought-provoking activity was where we had to conceive a business, imagining the year was 2030. An important issue I raised was that it was not simply reversing the current situation where BAME and female workers find it more challenging in the business world, but that there should be equal opportunity for everyone. It was also great to ask questions to Hamza Zaveri, a Trainee Solicitor, about turning an idea into a reality: have a clear view, value proposition and evaluation (I definitely recommend you check out his podcast called Linkubator.)

The second half of the day was all about presentation skills with Nicola Raw, a Learning & Development Consultant. There were 10 key tips but her favourite was “Change your mindset: great is perfect.” Remember that mistakes are what makes you human and it establishes that intimacy with audience.

We had a submission briefing from a Trainee Recruitment Assistant and the virtual meeting had ended. We had 4 hours to execute a 2-minute video presentation based on our essays which would be reviewed, and 4 students would be selected for the last round. This was probably the most stressful part of the entire process, constantly re-recording or watching the video back and noticing something in the background. The next day was where the journey for me ended. We received an email informing us of the 4 students who got through and I was not one of them.

Although I did not win, it cannot be denied that I learnt a lot from this and gained massive amounts of advice to push forward my career. A key concept was the idea of building your personal brand – identify how you want to come across (become self-aware) and extend your learning, using your experiences to inject personality into your conversations.

You always hear recruiters say that the most important aspect an employee can have is passion for their subject. Pondering this, I am forcibly reminded of a significant comment from a Trainee Recruitment Partner, Alison Wilson, which has resonated with me and perhaps the rest of the candidates. She mentioned that there was always one seed which set someone on the path to law. This programme was that one seed.




Northampton School for Boys, Billing Road, Northampton, NN1 5RT
01604 230240