How to succeed on a vacation scheme
You’ve got your foot in the door and won a place on a vacation scheme- congratulations!
Now, you need to make the most of this great opportunity. What this means depends largely on your own personal career goals. At one end of the spectrum, you might know that life as a solicitor at that particular firm is for you and want to secure a job offer at the end of your vacation scheme. At the other end of the spectrum, you might be less sure if that firm, or even life as a solicitor, is for you. No matter where you fall on this spectrum, there are five simple tips that can help you to ensure that you get the most out of your vacation scheme, whether that means landing your dream training contract offer or getting a better understanding of whether law right is for you.
1.Talk to people
Make the effort to be confident and speak to people at the firm. This serves two purposes. Firstly, it shows you in a positive light, as a confident person who is interested in the firm and the people that work there. This will also help for people to remember you too, which could help your chances of securing a training contract offer at the firm. Secondly, it helps you to learn more about how the firm works, what it does, and what the culture is like there. Ask if you could speak to employees there over lunch; this is often a good way of getting quite candid responses that might give a truer picture of the firm than an office-based discussion would. However, be careful not to ask too many questions, as this might annoy the employees. Do not ask questions simply for the sake of it, interrogate anyone, and do not bother anyone if they are obviously very busy. Wait for an appropriate time to ask your questions and you will do well.
2. Be employable
Though it might sound basic, make sure that you turn up to the office on time looking presentable. Though what you should wear differs depending on the firm, smart business clothes tend to be a safe bet. If you look the part, you’re not only more likely to get a job at the end of it, but employees at the firm are more likely to take you seriously and feel that it is worth their time getting to know you and answering your questions. First impressions matter, so be on time and be smart!
3. Put full effort into tasks set
During your vacation scheme, you are likely to be set some tasks by your supervisor. These might be assessed tasks set for all students on the vacation scheme, or more incidental tasks that relate to your supervisor’s work (e.g. researching a point of law that came up in a client meeting). Make sure that you put maximum effort into these tasks and complete them promptly; doing this will not only impress your supervisor, but it will also help you to gain a better understanding of the sort of work solicitors do.
However, if you have been set too much work for you to complete, let those setting you the work know. It might be the case that another vacation scheme student is under-tasked and could be given some work instead of you. You do not want to leave anyone waiting for you to complete work and they will understand if you have been set work by someone else at the firm and are completing that first.
4. Work well with the other students on your vacation scheme
If you are on a vacation scheme with other students, make sure that you do your best to get along with them. Being overly competitive will not look good and any attempts to sabotage other students’ vacation schemes will be spotted by your supervisor. Firms need solicitors that can work well as part of a team, so this is a skill you should aim to demonstrate on your vacation scheme. You might even end up working with some of the students on your scheme as trainee solicitors in the future, so it is best to start building good relationships with them now.
5. Make notes as you go along
Keeping a brief record of what you have done over the course of your vacation scheme is a good idea as it will help you to remember what you enjoyed about the vacation scheme. This is very useful if you have an exit interview at the end of your vacation scheme, where you may be asked questions about the work you undertook during the scheme. It is also useful in helping you to decide whether that particular law firm is the right one for you; if you have done several vacation schemes, there is a danger that you misremember them and get them confused with each other. Keeping a record helps to stop this from happening, making sure that you base your decisions on accurate information.
Keep these tips in mind during your vacation scheme to make sure that you do as well as possible. Best of luck from the VCH team! If you are interested in vacation schemes from leading law firms, make sure that you sign up to use Varsity Careers Hub; law firms, as well as firms from a variety of other industries, use our platform to recruit for training contracts and vacation schemes. Signing up is free for students and takes just two minutes. Sign up here and let the companies come to you!