First things first—we’d never recommend applying for a vacation scheme at the last minute. Given the research, tailoring and proofreading involved, it certainly isn’t something you should be submitting a few hours before the deadline.
Having said that, sometimes it happens. Before you know it, January is upon you, you’re back at university and there seems to be very little time to devote to those lengthy application forms.
If you’ve found yourself applying for opportunities at the last minute, there is hope. You just have to be very focused and a little bit crafty…
Is it too late to apply for a vacation scheme?
January 31 is the mythical date rumoured to be the final cut-off for all vacation scheme applications. But the notion of every summer scheme at a law firm disappearing in a puff of smoke at midnight is as fictional as it sounds.
It’s true that for some law firms, January 31 is the deadline you should have in mind. But for others, the deadline was in December, or early January. Other firms have deadlines tomorrow, next week, or in the days leading up to the 31st. Look at it this way: you have a dwindling list of vacation scheme opportunities to apply for, and that list is gradually getting shorter as this month goes on.
Manage your expectations
If you’re planning to apply for a vacation scheme in mid-to-late January, make sure you visit our vacation schemes page to see which opportunities are still open. It’s likely that the remaining schemes—and their deadlines—will be your first deciding factor when making your list of firms to apply to.
Once you’ve got your shortlist, the next stage is research. It can be tempting to skip this stage if you’re a late applicant, but it’s one of the most important parts of the process. A thorough research approach could also make the application process easier for you; it will give you a strong impression of what the firm is looking for, and you can use that as a structure for figuring out what you are going to write about in the application form. You can start your research here on AllAboutLaw by reading the firm’s profile, and continue it on the firm’s website.
Streamline your efforts
If you’re applying later than planned, it’s likely that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices somewhere along the application process. You should cut the number of firms that you apply to rather than the quality of your applications. If you frantically try to apply for every vacation scheme in a race against the clock, sending off near-identical answers to questions without proofreading, you’re just going to hurt your chances of getting a positive response.
On the other hand, if you select two or three vacation schemes at firms that really appeal to you, and devote time and energy to each one of them without copying and pasting large chunks of your applications, you’re more likely to get a favourable response.
Know your worth
If you are planning to apply for more than one scheme, one way that you can save yourself some time is to make a master list of all of your experiences and skills, perhaps divided into categories such as clubs and societies, part-time work and internships/work experience. Every time you apply for a new vacation scheme, compare your list with the job description and make connections between your achievements and the particular qualities the firm is looking for.
Are you applying for an opportunity at a firm with a thriving real estate practice? It could be a good time to mention the extensive pro bono work you’ve done with a housing charity. Going for a scheme at a firm with a small intake? It would be sensible to include evidence of how you started a society from scratch and led a small but effective committee to grow it. Just having a list of what you’ve achieved will speed up the process massively.
If you’re still planning to apply for a vacation scheme, head over to our jobs board to check out the schemes still available.