How do I ace a vacation scheme?
Congratulations on securing a vacation scheme! This is an amazing opportunity to learn more about the firm and its values, and to discover whether law is right for you. If you manage to impress the senior lawyers and admissions team, you could even receive a training contract offer on completing the programme. Here are a few ways you can ace your vacation scheme.
What does a vacation scheme involve?
A vacation scheme is a week or two weeks of legal work experience. The specifics vary from firm to firm, but vacation schemes usually involve shadowing a trainee solicitor, attending meetings with senior lawyers, listening to talks about the firm and completing legal tasks.
The amount of responsibility you’ll take on depends on the size of the firm, with smaller firms tending to give their vacation scheme candidates more responsibility. Aside from legal work, there are opportunities to network with your fellow candidates, as well as with senior lawyers from the firm.
Basic workplace etiquette
The first thing to remember during your scheme is basic workplace etiquette. For instance: don’t be late (in fact, try and get to work 15 minutes before you’re expected to), communicate professionally, and dress in appropriate office attire.
If you find any of these challenging, start making improvements before you start the scheme. If you’re always late for university, for example, set your alarm earlier than you think you need, to give you enough time to get ready. You could even ask a friend to call you in the mornings to make sure you wake up on time.
In the same way, if you were always getting pulled up for uniform violations in school, don’t be afraid to ask about the firm’s expected dress code, and then ask your parents or friends if they think your planned outfits are appropriate, making changes if needed. It would be the worst feeling if you missed out on a training contract because of an issue that could have been easily resolved.
Make an impression
Another way to ace a vacation scheme is to make a long lasting impression on the firm, to go above and beyond what’s expected: this is what they want from employees.
If you find yourself with no work to do, why not ask if there’s anything else you can help with? Or, if you attended a talk that you found particularly interesting, ask the speaker if you can schedule a meeting to further discuss any particularly interesting or relevant points.
At the end of the scheme, it’s worth sending an email to the lawyers you met, expressing your gratitude for mentoring you. This way, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Attend social events
During your scheme, the firm might run social events after work. While you might be exhausted or eager to spend time with friends, don’t miss out on these opportunities.
These get-togethers are a great chance for you to network and speak to senior lawyers in a more relaxed setting, making connections that you may find invaluable later on.
Remember that the programme will pass quickly: make each day count.