Friday 9 December 2016

Meet the Irish teenager who just landed a €55k job weeks after leaving school

Claire McNeilly

Published 13/09/2016 | 09:42

Tim Kennedy
Tim Kennedy

It's not every day an 18-year-old leaves school for a job boasting a guaranteed €55k (£47,000) salary.

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But Lurgan lad Tim Kennedy is doing just that, having landed a place in a unique earn-while-you-learn 'articled apprenticeship' scheme with Mayer Brown - one of the biggest legal firms in the world.

Tim - who started his new job yesterday and has already settled into his apartment in London's trendy Notting Hill area - fought off stiff competition to become the first student in Northern Ireland to undertake the programme that will eventually see him qualify as a solicitor.

And the teenager, who recently achieved A-levels in history, English literature and music at Lurgan College, is determined to make the most of an opportunity most students are lucky to be presented with much later in life.

Tim and his family
Tim and his family

"There is a lot of earning potential in this job but I wanted to be a solicitor from the age of 16 because it's an extremely important, fruitful career," he said.

"My parents have warned me about the hard work involved but they know it's a good industry to get into and they were very supportive."

Tim says he knew which career he wanted to pursue after work placements in Belfast firms and also shadowing UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson at the ultimate law-making establishment in this country - Stormont - for a few days.

"I had an induction last week and this is my first proper week on the job. I'm loving it so far," said Tim, who grew up just outside Lurgan and is the youngest of three children.

"It's a very welcoming and diverse firm. A lot of other global law firms anchored in big London offices are quite strict and serious but Mayer Brown is a very friendly place.

"Even the most senior people in the company, the partners, are taking a real interest in me and I've been made to feel very welcome."

But does he not feel he's going to be missing out on university life?

"No, I don't," he replied. "I've already realised that I've joined a really social firm.

"I wouldn't want to do something that would have me working or studying all the time. It was really important for me to ensure I'd have a social life outside of work."

Tim - who'd never spent time in London before except as a fleeting tourist - will now be there for the next six years, the first four as an apprentice and the final two as a trainee.

During those initial four years he will study for his law degree on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, as well as weekends.

Typically, his day in the office starts at 9am and ends at 6pm, apart from the two days he has to attend lectures - and he has the same holidays as normal university students.

So how did all this come about?

"I subscribe to a website for young people who want to become lawyers, and when Mayer Brown launched their scheme last year I knew that it was something I had to go for when I was eligible."

Tim applied for the role with the world's 17th largest law firm in January and the letter he was hoping for arrived in June.

Apart from being the only Northern Ireland youngster taken on, Tim is actually one of only three in the UK recruited for this scheme. He's also the first school-leaver to do it - and the youngest.

His starting salary is €21,335 (£18,000), rising incrementally to €55k (£47,000) over those first four years.

Tim's other two siblings have also flown the coop - sister Rachel (21) is a final year language student at St Andrews in Scotland, while brother Matthew (24) works in marketing for Premier League club Stoke City.

Father Steve (54) is a business director with GlaxoSmithKline while mother Wendy (53) is a teacher.

Tim says that, after 10 whirlwind days in the big smoke, he hasn't had a chance to really miss the family: "I'm too busy to be worrying about home," he said.

The teenager may have been focused on what he wants to do, but has yet to decide which branch of law he favours.

"This apprenticeship means I'll get six months rotation in every different seat so I'll experience all aspects of law and by the end of my six years I'll actually know what type of law I want to go into," he explained.

"This is the only law firm apprenticeship that actually offers you a proper degree alongside of it. It's a huge firm and I was apprehensive at the start but after my first week that evaporated."

Belfast Telegraph

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