Trainee blog: Now what?... Life after applications, vacation schemes and assessment days

Following the fire and fury of applications, vacation schemes and assessment days, the dust starts to settle around this time of year. Whether they have been successful or unsuccessful in obtaining a training contract, many prospective trainee solicitors will be asking themselves: "now what?"

Get feedback

If you are unsuccessful in a training contract application, it is well worth reaching out to the firm for feedback. The firm might be able to give you targeted, actionable feedback based on the quality of your application, or your performance during the vacation scheme or assessment day. Actively seeking feedback will also show the firm that you are engaged in your own professional development – this is a key trait for trainee solicitors.

Whatever stage you are at in your career, feedback is essential. For prospective trainee solicitors, feedback can make a huge difference to how you approach future training contract applications, vacation schemes and assessment days. The key is to view feedback as constructive and positive. Try not to let it knock your confidence.

As an example, after I completed a vacation scheme at Michelmores a few years ago, I received a phonecall from Michelmores to inform me of the outcome. Michelmores explained what went well and, more importantly, the skills and knowledge-sets that I could improve. Whilst I did not secure a training contract that year, the feedback I was given laid the foundations for my own development over the coming months. 

Even if you have managed to secure a training contract, feedback is just as important. Use the time you have until your training contract starts to continue learning and developing, so you can hit the ground running when you join the firm.

Acting on feedback

If you can, make a note of the feedback you have received.  I opted to split my feedback into two categories: (1) what went well; (2) areas for improvement. From this, I decided how I would tackle each of my areas for improvement, and thought about how I could develop the aspects that went well. For example:

Skill

Feedback

Action

Commercial awareness

Went well

Keep reading the news and legal press; perhaps find more journalists or commentators on social media.

Interviewing skills

Area for improvement

Practice interview skills with friends and colleagues.

Keep going

Missing out on a training contract offer, at whatever stage, can be tough to take. Having been through that disappointment more than once, my advice is this (brace yourself for a cliché): don't give up.  Rejection is part of the process and is an opportunity to understand and tackle your "weaknesses" head-on. For me, a year after that phonecall, I came back to Michelmores to take part in an assessment day, following which I was offered a training contract. One of the main reasons I chose to try again at Michelmores was due to the support and feedback I had been given the previous year.

If you have been offered a training contract, congratulations! For many future trainees there is still a lot of hard work to come. This may take the shape of your final undergraduate years at university, undertaking the GDL or LPC, or seeing out the remainder of your time with your current employer. Keep your foot on the gas, but remember to find time to pat yourself on the back.

If you have any questions about training contracts at Michelmores, visit our Graduate Recruitment page here or tweet us @MMTrainees.