The season for vacation scheme applications is upon us, with many deadlines approaching at the end of January. A vacation scheme is an opportunity to spend some time in a firm (for example, our vacation scheme is one week long), getting to know more about life as a solicitor in and out of the office whilst, ultimately, showing the firm why they should offer you a coveted training contract. For those of you thinking about applying for a vacation scheme, this trainee blog sets out some top tips from our trainees which may help your application stand out from the rest.
Alice:”include something that will make you stand out and make people remember you. A previous trainee at Michelmores mentioned climbing a huge tree in Australia to overcome a fear of heights, and I talked about doing a sky dive for charity”
Chloe:”make it as personal as possible. Firms like Michelmores want to get to know candidates, so something a little different to the ‘safe’ answer may stand out.”
Think about what makes you different to the other applicants; and give examples to back-up these qualities. Whilst it is true that any firm would be pleased to see experience in the legal sector, “non-legal” experience can be equally relevant. I had no legal experience when I applied, but focussed on my work experience in retail and customer services as well as playing sport and fundraising for charity.
Hannah: “take the time to research the firm to tailor your application to the firm”
Helen: “Think about what you want to get out of the experience and use that as the basis of your application. For example, if you are interested in a certain practice area, explain why the work the firm does in that area is appealing. Or, if you want know if the firm is the right ‘fit’, find out about its values and social opportunities.”
Believe it or not, every law firm is different. It is always a good idea to find out as much as you can about the firm you intend to apply for. Firstly, this will help you focus on the kind of law firm you want to work for (check out Alice Spicer-Edwards’ take on this aspect, here). Secondly, tailoring your application around your knowledge of the firm’s values, choir, cricket team or recent volunteering days will demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to the firm.
Ben: “don’t overthink it! The questions are not trying to catch you out at every opportunity. They are providing a platform for you to demonstrate who you are and the attributes you have”
The application form is your first opportunity to tell the firm about yourself, why you want to be involved in the firm’s vacation scheme and why you want to train as a solicitor at that specific firm. Think about real-life examples which show-off your skills, experience and personality.
Lydia: “check your application carefully. Someone I know misspelt the name of the law firm on their application… and he had to try and explain the mistake in his interview”
Maddy: “I found it helpful to get someone else to read the firm’s graduate material and then read my application form… The other person can give you a better idea of how you come across and what first impression your application gives”
Throughout school, college and university I was hounded by teachers stressing the importance of proof-reading and double-checking. Unsurprisingly, they had a point. Perhaps ask someone to read your answers back to you, or print them out and read them aloud to yourself. Does everything make sense, and sound the way you want it to sound?