The Smart Start Business Challenge
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If you were the new Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of your favourite business, what would you do to attract the best employees?

Challenge details

Smart Start gives Year 12 students from less privileged backgrounds the chance to spend a week at Allen & Overy’s London office and gain a real insight into the world of business.  Smart Start is the first work experience programme in the legal sector to be accredited by City & Guilds, the internationally recognised vocational education business, for its quality and content.

The work experience programme is aimed at building confidence and developing skills, from improving personal impact, to analysing, negotiation, presentation and team working. These are useful transferable skills which can be taken into any career. Participants will also get the opportunity to start building a network of contacts amongst business professionals, as well as amongst their peers from other schools.

After the work experience programme has finished, Smart Start participants continue to benefit from advice and support from business volunteers, through Smarter Futures, our e-mentoring programme.  Smarter Futures mentees will also have the opportunity to apply for a bursary from Allen & Overy to support them in their university studies.


Pick your favourite organisation (fictional or real) and then think about:

What makes this company great?

Why did you choose this company over another?

Now think about what you would change or put in place to attract future employees.

It can be absolutely anything from more work experience opportunities for young people, paying staff the living wage, time off for volunteering (giving back to the community), developing a better marketing strategy or unlimited paid holiday. The choice is yours so be creative!

How To Enter

To be considered for a place you need to:

  • Complete the MyKindaFuture online challenge by telling us in 200 words “If you were the new Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of your favourite business, what would you do to make your business more attractive to the best future employees?

  • Submissions will be reviewed by MyKindaFuture. 200 people will be selected to take part in a skills and assessment day at Allen & Overy on the 15th March. Everyone who completes the skills and assessment day will receive a certificate in Enterprise from MyKindaFuture.

  • Following the skills and assessment day, MyKindaFuture will select 60 students to be offered a place on a week-long intensive programme of workshops starting Monday 4th July.

  • Information about Smarter Futures will be provided to participants at the end of the week’s programme.

Once you have written your entry, you can submit it in the following formats:

  • Word Document

  • PDF

  • Powerpoint Presentation

  • If you have completed your entry on paper, please scan your submission and upload as a JPEG

  • You can upload your submission as a video/audio file, or include a link in a word document to a video you have uploaded to YouTube

When thinking about entering this challenge please make sure you fit these criteria first:

  • You are in Year 12 of a state School or College

  • You attend a School or College in London or within commuter distance to Allen & Overy's London office*

  • You are in the first generation in your immediate family to attend University OR are (or have been) eligible for free school meals**

  • You are free to attend the skills and assessment day and have permission from school and family to do so

  • You are free to attend the week's work experience and have permission from school and family to do so

*Travel and transport costs to the skills and assessment day and the week's work experience will be covered up to £10 and £30 respectively. Please ensure that you can cover any extra costs to and from these events or contact us for advice.

**If difficult or sensitive to obtain information about free school meals, you should attend a school that has 30% or more students eligible for free school meals.

The Prizes

If your submission is successful, you will be invited to attend an Allen & Overy skills and assessment day where you will receive a certificate. Following the skills and assessment day, 60 participants will be selected to receive one week's work experience on the award-winning Smart Start Experience programme. Participants will be offered further advice and support via an e-mentoring programme as well as the opportunity to apply for a bursary towards the costs of their University studies.


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Penny Amatt