Securing a vacation scheme is not a small achievement, but it is still only a step towards getting a training contract. Although many law firms invite their vacation scheme students to a second round of training contract interviews, that does not mean that your vacation scheme is not an opportunity to stand out. You will certainly be judged on your performance, so don’t miss the chance to impress!
Being willing to interact with everyone and ask questions will prove invaluable. Not only will you be building relationships with the people you work with, you will also be demonstrating your interest in law and your ability to get on with people.
So stay curious and never be afraid to ask questions, whether you are speaking to a member of the graduate recruitment team or a partner. Also, make an effort to interact with fellow vacation scheme students – they are not your competitors and you may even find yourselves working together in the future. So be willing to talk to anyone and get involved in social events.
It may be the case that on a vacation scheme at a larger firm your time will be more structured. You may have a timetable set for you by the graduate recruitment team and you may have been pre-allocated to particular departments.
However, you may still find yourself with no tasks left to do. If this is the case, always approach people and ask if they have any work for you. Not only does this show that you are able to use your initiative and actively seek out work, it could also allow you to gain experience in an area of law that you would have never otherwise encountered.
While it is tempting to take on every task you are set in order to demonstrate your time management skills and hardworking nature, overloading yourself is never a good idea. Make sure that you are always clear about what work you are completing and for whom.
It can be useful to prioritise tasks according to their deadlines so that you are always on track. If someone then asks you to complete a task which you do not think you have time for, do not be afraid to tell them that you are currently working on several things and may not be able to do more in the time you have.
You can ask if the deadline is negotiable or offer to collaborate with another student to share the load. Ultimately, if your availability just does not allow you to do more, then politely decline. Either way, your honesty will always be appreciated and showing that you can manage your own schedule effectively is yet another way to impress.
Professionalism is probably the minimum your firm will expect of you. It will be evident from what you wear, how you interact with others and even how you write.
Professionalism is particularly important if you get the opportunity to interact with clients. Occasionally, clients will not even know that you are a vacation scheme student, so they may treat you the same way they treat a trainee – and being able to live up to that level of professionalism is sure to impress.
However, you need to know your limits. If a client starts asking your opinion on a matter or even requests your legal advice, do not attempt to play the role of a lawyer if you are not sure. This is running before you can walk – you are certainly not expected to know everything as a vacation scheme student!
There is nothing wrong with telling a client that you will get back to them once you speak with your superior. The likelihood is that the more senior lawyers will take over from you to deal with complex client queries. So when it comes to being professional, dress smart and always know your audience.
Above all, enjoy this unique experience and use it as an opportunity to demonstrate your strengths and further develop your skills.
Words: Mariya Rankin
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