Trainee blog: Making the most of your Vacation Scheme
Hurrah! You've secured a coveted place on a vacation scheme and are one step closer to getting a training contract. But how can you make the most of your time on the scheme and ensure you impress? I asked fellow trainees here at Michelmores for their advice:
Seema: "Be yourself and ask lots of questions. As much as the firm might be assessing whether you are the right "fit" for them, you need to work out if the firm is right for you. Vacation schemes are the perfect opportunity to get to know the people who you will be working with day to day if you are successful."
Ben: "Say hello to everyone - even the person you pass on the stairs and the person you're behind in the coffee queue. It's unlikely you will know who everyone you meet is, so err on the side of caution - you don't want to have inadvertently ignored the Managing Partner!"
Hannah: "Be proactive. While I was on my vac scheme, I organised short meetings with as many people as possible at the firm. It was a great way to get tips on things that could help me in my career going forward."
Abbey: "Get to know junior members of staff and the current trainees during your time on the vac scheme, as well as Partners and supervisors; they can give you an insight into what it is like being a trainee with the firm. Also, the HR team are likely to ask for feedback from everyone, not just Partners…"
Rob: "Get enough sleep!"
Gemma: "Be inquisitive. You are not expected to know everything, but show that you are interested in learning. Ask questions, seek advice, and be curious about the work you are doing and the firm you are at."
Vacation schemes are an excellent opportunity to learn more about the law firm you think you want to train with, and for them to see how brilliant you are. Many firms use them as part of their trainee recruitment process, although what they actually involve can vary. Commonly, there will be some sort of assessment, perhaps a presentation, a teamwork exercise, and an interview, as well as legal work as part of one or more teams. There may also be social events at lunch times or in the evenings.
Being prepared is crucial. This includes everything from logistics of travel to being physically and emotionally prepared (hence Rob's sage advice!). Michelmores holds a pre-vacation scheme event where you can meet the other people you'll be on the vac scheme with, learn about what you'll be doing and have a tour of the office.
It is also a good idea to have learnt as much about the firm as possible before you arrive. If the firm has recently been instructed by a great new client, won a complex court case or completed an interesting deal, and the news is on their website or social media, you should know about it.
While you are at the firm, get involved, use your initiative and try to be memorable for the right reasons!
Of course, you may feel nervous about your upcoming vacation scheme, and - given the pressure, expectation and intensity of the experience - this is not surprising. Just remember that the fact you are on the vacation scheme means that you have already impressed the firm. As Seema said, you now have the chance to see if the firm feels right for you.
Finally, if you are not successful at the end of the week and aren't offered a training contract, don't panic. Seek feedback from the HR team about what you could have done better and use that in your applications going forward. The experience you gain and the things you learn on a vac scheme are valuable, whether you end up at that firm or not.
If you have any questions, please tweet us @MMTrainees.