1. DO research the firm
If you've somehow made it through your vacation-scheme application without having researched the firm, you've been very lucky. Don't rely on this luck when the training contract actually starts—if you turn up on your first day not knowing what the key departments are, or with a shaky knowledge of key values, someone will notice. Being clued up about the firm you’re at will allow you to ask in-depth questions, which will show your enthusiasm and initiative. It may also end up being a massive asset to you—if you know how the firm works and you've got an idea of their values, you'll be able to get on with work and be super impressive.
2. DON’T sit on the bench
We get it—first days are daunting, especially when everyone else is running around seeming to know everything. But once you get over the initial trauma of not knowing where the toilets are, it's time to come out of your shell. Get into the habit of trying to be helpful and make the effort to get involved. Students who are reluctant to help out trainees and associates or lack enthusiasm are unlikely to be taken on.
3. DO be confident, but not over-confident
Remember, your arrival at the firm is one step of many in qualifying as a lawyer—you're not qualified yet! Firms will want to see that you can hold your own, but they don't want to be confronted with students who think they know it all already. Confidence is important, of course, but you should show a willingness to learn alongside it. One important skill to develop is knowing when to talk and when to listen.
4. DON’T act inappropriately
Using the placement as an opportunity to scout out the local talent, or drinking too much, isn't the way to impress a future employer; this is not the sort of sociability firms want to see. We've heard countless horror stories of people trying it on with the HR graduate-recruitment managers, other vacation schemers and even trainees and associates. Although it's possible you may find love, you probably won’t find yourself with a training contract at the end of your placement.
5. DO keep it professional
Professionalism always comes first. Keep composed, polite and respectful at all times. Even as you become more comfortable and start to remember names and faces, make sure you're still rocking that professionalism that got you onto the vacation scheme in the first place!
6. DON’T forget to enjoy yourself
Interact with your colleagues, get stuck in and try to squeeze as much out of the placement as you can. You want to demonstrate how confident and comfortable you are within the law firm’s working environment, so they can picture you as an integral member of the team in the future.
Next article: What happens after a vacation scheme?
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