From self-control on socials to planning your route to the office; Legal Cheek is here to help
Summer’s officially here, and while for some that means heading abroad or firing up the BBQ, many training contract hunters will be preparing for vacation schemes. But for the unprepared, the road to TC victory is full of pitfalls so we’ve rounded up a list of dos and don’ts to help you put your best foot forward.
Do your homework before you arrive
Chances are, you’ve put in a lot of hard work just to get to this point. Don’t fall at the final hurdle by turning up without having refreshed your knowledge concerning the firm, the teams you will work in and the people you may encounter. Yes, you’re here to learn about all this but a little intel can make things much smoother and you’ll appear more confident from day one.
Don’t overdo it on the free alcohol at socials
Socials. A chance to kick back after a hard days work and have a bit of fun right? Yes and no. Remember socials are an extension of your professional day with the addition of seemingly limitless free alcohol. This is a crucial test of self-control. Networking is a key skill, and the firm knows that one day, instead of a room of slightly dazed vac schemers, this will be a room full of important clients.
Do dress appropriately
This one can be tricky, but as a rule of thumb it’s probably better to be slightly overdressed than underdressed. Check any emails from the firm for dress code pointers ahead of time and if in doubt err on the side of caution and dress smart. Every firm will do things slightly differently and you can always adjust after the first day when you have a better idea of what everyone else wears.
Don’t be late or underprepared
A vac scheme is a chance to show your potential future workplace what kind of colleague you would be. The unvarnished truth is if you are tardy or simply not ready for what the day has in store, they are unlikely to want you to join their ranks in the future. You have a limited time to make a good impression, that means showing up consistently and enthusiastically every single day. Bonus tip: map your route to firm’s office in advance. And watch out for train strikes!
Do be friendly to everyone
Making a good impression starts the moment you walk in the door — if not sooner! Take the time to learn names and be friendly to everyone, even if they’re not directly responsible for evaluating you.
Don’t forget this works both ways
Often vac schemes can feel like an obstacle course, and in the competitive world of commercial law the eyes-on-the-prize approach is not at all unwarranted. But it’s important to take the time to ask that critical question: ‘Could I be happy here?’ After all, it’s a lot of effort for a life you’re not 100% sure about.
Triple check everything
Having made it this far it would be a shame to miss out due to a silly mistake, so always take the extra time to triple check everything you do. Lawyers are cautious creatures, demonstrate that eye for detail you waxed lyrical about in the application form.
Don’t let fear stop you from making an impression
It’s completely normal to experience anxiety/imposter syndrome/shyness when coming into a vac scheme and it can be hard to just shrug it off and relax. Try to remember that most people will have encountered those nervous first days in office at one time or another and don’t let the fear stop you from putting forward your best self.
Do ask questions
We all have those moments, perhaps in the lift or the communal coffee area, where your mind goes blank and you can’t think of anything to say to the people you spend all day working with. But as a vac schemer, this is a luxury you simply cannot afford. Instead, come prepared by having a mental list of questions to keep in mind during your vac scheme so that you can turn any awkward pause into an opportunity to strike up a conversation and gain useful intel on your potential workplace.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself
And finally, if you can find time amidst all the hard work, relentless networking and self-promotion, try to actually enjoy it. In the cutthroat world of commercial law, getting a vac scheme is an achievement in itself. Take a second to feel proud and if you don’t score that TC remember this all counts as valuable experience for the next time round.