Converting your vacation scheme into a training contract - top tips in 2021

thirdtimelucky

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  • Nov 12, 2019
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    Hi @George Maxwell @AvniD @James Carrabino, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on one week vac schemes? I haven’t got much information on how the scheme will work besides knowing I get an associate mentor in one of my top 3 seat choices and that we have an exit interview at the end. Because it’s coming up quite soon I’m starting to worry a little about how to prepare and what I should be focusing on. Any advice/help would be welcome :D
     

    thelovelygiraffe

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    Hi @George Maxwell @AvniD @James Carrabino, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on one week vac schemes? I haven’t got much information on how the scheme will work besides knowing I get an associate mentor in one of my top 3 seat choices and that we have an exit interview at the end. Because it’s coming up quite soon I’m starting to worry a little about how to prepare and what I should be focusing on. Any advice/help would be welcome :D

    Bumping this up. Similar situation!
    Maybe @Jessica Booker could also have useful advice?
     

    Dheepa

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    Hi @George Maxwell @AvniD @James Carrabino, I was wondering if anyone had any advice on one week vac schemes? I haven’t got much information on how the scheme will work besides knowing I get an associate mentor in one of my top 3 seat choices and that we have an exit interview at the end. Because it’s coming up quite soon I’m starting to worry a little about how to prepare and what I should be focusing on. Any advice/help would be welcome :D

    Bumping this up. Similar situation!
    Maybe @Jessica Booker could also have useful advice?

    Hi!

    I did two one week long vac schemes in 2020, and generally all the advice myself and other people have posted on this thread is still extremely applicable. But more specifically, I think the outcome of shorter schemes (i.e. whether or not you're made the TC offer) are more focused on:

    a) The quality of work you produce whether those are fixed assessments/work your supervisor gives (side note: both my one week schemes only had fixed assessments and no real live work - there's a good chance you can expect the same);
    b) The final exit interview - because it's a shorter scheme and there's less opportunity for associates etc to get to know you and give feedback on you I think a lot of it comes down to the impression you make on your interviewers at the end. You can see advice I've given on exit interviews here. Again because the scheme is much shorter, I think its fair to say the kind of questions you get asked will be more competency/motivational focused rather than reflective questions (again see the previous link for the difference between the two);
    c) How engaged you are - are you asking questions during presentations, taking notes etc. You can prepare for this by looking up questions that you'd like to ask once you do get your schedule for the scheme. Personally, I'd recommend just asking genuine questions based on the content of the presentation (rather than preparing what you think might be impressive questions) but I also know sometimes doing the preparation work can help with confidence.

    Because these schemes are way shorter I wouldn't get too caught up in setting up calls with lots of different people or going out of your way to take on extra work. You'll find that there will be lots of presentations, socials, networking events etc. set up back to back and you'll hardly have the time for anything extra So I would focus on the aspects I mentioned above. I hope that helps!
     

    Moon

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    Nov 6, 2019
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    Hi @George Maxwell

    I have an upcoming VS with Addleshaw, this will be in person for one week. Last cycle, I had two VS, both virtual, and I was unsuccessful in converting them. Do you have a general checklist/tips on successfully converting a VS to a TC? What can I do beforehand to prepare? In my previous VS feedback, it was not made clear to me what exactly the cause of rejection was. Additionally, I have an upcoming AC with Fladgate, if there are any tips you could share?

    Many thanks in advance.
     
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    George Maxwell

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    Hi @George Maxwell

    I have an upcoming VS with Addleshaw, this will be in person for one week. Last cycle, I had two VS, both virtual, and I was unsuccessful in converting them. Do you have a general checklist/tips on successfully converting a VS to a TC? What can I do beforehand to prepare? In my previous VS feedback, it was not made clear to me what exactly the cause of rejection was. Additionally, I have an upcoming AC with Fladgate, if there are any tips you could share?

    Many thanks in advance.
    Hey @Moon,

    Thank you for the question. I am sorry to hear that you have had a rough ride so far in terms of converting your vacation schemes last cycle. That being said, congratulations for being offered a VS this cycle with AG. They are a fantastic firm and credit to you for bouncing back! I would be delighted to help you with some tips.

    In terms of useful information already on the forum:
    • If you have not already, do check out the information and tips already contained within this thread. @Jaysen linked a number of tips for converting vacation schemes in this post, which are definitely worth combing through ahead of your vacation scheme.
    • Check out @Jacob Miller's fantastic articles. Although many of them are geared towards assessment centre preparation, if you have not already, revise from these, as they are gold dust.
    • This thread includes some thoughts from me (and others) about the sorts of thing to consider when completing vacation scheme tasks.
    Ahead of your vacation scheme, I think it is really important to go in with a fresh mindset. You are clearly capable, so as best you can, draw a line between this and last cycle. I am also sorry to hear that your post-VS feedback was not helpful. I know how frustrating that must feel.

    The best pieces of advice I have for you are to be proactive, enthusiastic and dedicated in everything you do during your vacation scheme. Treat it as an opportunity to excel. What practically do I mean by this?

    Proactivity

    When you are asked to do something, ask yourself where it is possible to add value. For example, if you are invited to a meeting, take minutes, employ a clear structure and send it to the person who invited you. It might not be of any practical use for them, but equally it could be helpful. You are also demonstrating and practising a useful trainee skill. Make sure to ask your supervisor where you can relieve pressure or help too.

    Being proactive also means seeking opportunities in addition to the mandatory tasks you have been given. For example, during my vacation scheme with Akin Gump, I wrote to one of the associates after a pro bono talk to see whether I could help with a matter that she mentioned. This lead to me, amongst other things, attending (and taking minutes of) a live interview with a relative of someone on death row, who the firm were providing legal aid to. If I had not proactively reached out, I would not have been able to do work with her. Of course, be mindful not to take on too much extra, as it is vital that you complete your core tasks to a high standard.

    The last example that I can think of in terms of being proactive and taking initiative, is to reach out to people who are working in practice areas that interest you. Often people may well be too busy, but if you don't ask, you will not find out. Be authentic, open and honest during these conversations. They are for your benefit, so speak to the other person like another human being, rather than someone to impress. Ask them genuine questions, rather than ones that you feel that you should ask. Speaking to a broad range of people during your vacation scheme will demonstrate curiosity and engagement with the firm and its work, which are clearly a sought after traits in future trainees. It will also allow you to make an informed decision about the firm and whether it is right for you.

    Enthusiasm

    When you are speaking with your supervisor or trainee buddy, be curious. Have the confidence to ask questions about aspects of their job/day/work that appeal or interest you. Be positive too! I think it must be miserable supervising someone who is clearly has no interest in being there.

    I think that it is important to be enthusiastic about the jobs which might appear less interesting. For example, during my vacation scheme at HSF, I had to update some slides which included a list of the firm's public takeover work in the last 20 years. This was the sort of task which you really might have to complete as a trainee (and it really did take hours). Throughout I tried to extract value from doing it where I could. This included making sure I researched and considered the most efficient ways of completing the task, in addition to thinking about how best to seek clarification from my supervisor on aspects of the task that I was unsure about.

    Dedication

    Being dedicated includes going the extra mile and being proactive. But it also includes completing very basic tasks well. For example, when you are sending emails or emailing your supervisor with completed tasks, try as best you can to eliminate any spelling errors. This is definitely easier said than done, but it makes a huge difference. This was one of the big tips that my trainee buddy at HSF mentioned to me at the start of the scheme which I tried my absolute best to act on throughout.

    Make sure that you always have a pen and paper with you. This way you will not miss any key information for tasks, or even notes to yourself about things to do or consider. When you are being given a task too, take a look at the link included in the final bullet above, as these are important questions that you should always ask after being given a supervisor task. I made sure that I took notes during all of the meetings I attended during my schemes.

    I am sure that you would do this already, but I think that it is worth saying all the same, you should be willing to work beyond normal working hours to ensure your tasks are completed to a high standard. This does not mean working until 2am each night, but it does involve trying your best and engaging with tasks fully. This needs to be done in a sustainable way though. For example, at HSF I was told that if my supervisor or trainee buddy suspected I was working late into the night this would reflect more on my time management skills than anything else.

    My trainee buddy also spoke to me about how protecting evenings and your free time was one of the aspects of transitioning to working life (away from being a student) that was important to take seriously. Otherwise, especially as a trainee, it is easy to burn yourself out.

    Another thing that I did during my vacation schemes was to make clear I was there to develop and improve. During the first meeting with each of my supervisors and trainee buddies, I made it clear that I would like feedback on all aspects of my work (where possible). I made it clear that I was mostly interested in constructive feedback too, as this is the sort of feedback that would accelerate my learning. This led to some invaluable insight into how I could improve and develop in the future.

    Questions for you

    I would be fascinated to hear how you felt about the schemes that you completed last cycle. Are there areas that you felt particularly strong or weak in? Do you have anything that you might be able to share (in terms of learnings or developmental points) having completed two vacation schemes? What would you say to others who have vacation schemes coming up this spring/summer based on your experiences?

    Please do ask any clarificatory points on the above if you would like to!

    I am always here to help 🚀
     

    Moon

    Star Member
    Nov 6, 2019
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    Hey @Moon,

    Thank you for the question. I am sorry to hear that you have had a rough ride so far in terms of converting your vacation schemes last cycle. That being said, congratulations for being offered a VS this cycle with AG. They are a fantastic firm and credit to you for bouncing back! I would be delighted to help you with some tips.

    In terms of useful information already on the forum:
    • If you have not already, do check out the information and tips already contained within this thread. @Jaysen linked a number of tips for converting vacation schemes in this post, which are definitely worth combing through ahead of your vacation scheme.
    • Check out @Jacob Miller's fantastic articles. Although many of them are geared towards assessment centre preparation, if you have not already, revise from these, as they are gold dust.
    • This thread includes some thoughts from me (and others) about the sorts of thing to consider when completing vacation scheme tasks.
    Ahead of your vacation scheme, I think it is really important to go in with a fresh mindset. You are clearly capable, so as best you can, draw a line between this and last cycle. I am also sorry to hear that your post-VS feedback was not helpful. I know how frustrating that must feel.

    The best pieces of advice I have for you are to be proactive, enthusiastic and dedicated in everything you do during your vacation scheme. Treat it as an opportunity to excel. What practically do I mean by this?

    Proactivity

    When you are asked to do something, ask yourself where it is possible to add value. For example, if you are invited to a meeting, take minutes, employ a clear structure and send it to the person who invited you. It might not be of any practical use for them, but equally it could be helpful. You are also demonstrating and practising a useful trainee skill. Make sure to ask your supervisor where you can relieve pressure or help too.

    Being proactive also means seeking opportunities in addition to the mandatory tasks you have been given. For example, during my vacation scheme with Akin Gump, I wrote to one of the associates after a pro bono talk to see whether I could help with a matter that she mentioned. This lead to me, amongst other things, attending (and taking minutes of) a live interview with a relative of someone on death row, who the firm were providing legal aid to. If I had not proactively reached out, I would not have been able to do work with her. Of course, be mindful not to take on too much extra, as it is vital that you complete your core tasks to a high standard.

    The last example that I can think of in terms of being proactive and taking initiative, is to reach out to people who are working in practice areas that interest you. Often people may well be too busy, but if you don't ask, you will not find out. Be authentic, open and honest during these conversations. They are for your benefit, so speak to the other person like another human being, rather than someone to impress. Ask them genuine questions, rather than ones that you feel that you should ask. Speaking to a broad range of people during your vacation scheme will demonstrate curiosity and engagement with the firm and its work, which are clearly a sought after traits in future trainees. It will also allow you to make an informed decision about the firm and whether it is right for you.

    Enthusiasm

    When you are speaking with your supervisor or trainee buddy, be curious. Have the confidence to ask questions about aspects of their job/day/work that appeal or interest you. Be positive too! I think it must be miserable supervising someone who is clearly has no interest in being there.

    I think that it is important to be enthusiastic about the jobs which might appear less interesting. For example, during my vacation scheme at HSF, I had to update some slides which included a list of the firm's public takeover work in the last 20 years. This was the sort of task which you really might have to complete as a trainee (and it really did take hours). Throughout I tried to extract value from doing it where I could. This included making sure I researched and considered the most efficient ways of completing the task, in addition to thinking about how best to seek clarification from my supervisor on aspects of the task that I was unsure about.

    Dedication

    Being dedicated includes going the extra mile and being proactive. But it also includes completing very basic tasks well. For example, when you are sending emails or emailing your supervisor with completed tasks, try as best you can to eliminate any spelling errors. This is definitely easier said than done, but it makes a huge difference. This was one of the big tips that my trainee buddy at HSF mentioned to me at the start of the scheme which I tried my absolute best to act on throughout.

    Make sure that you always have a pen and paper with you. This way you will not miss any key information for tasks, or even notes to yourself about things to do or consider. When you are being given a task too, take a look at the link included in the final bullet above, as these are important questions that you should always ask after being given a supervisor task. I made sure that I took notes during all of the meetings I attended during my schemes.

    I am sure that you would do this already, but I think that it is worth saying all the same, you should be willing to work beyond normal working hours to ensure your tasks are completed to a high standard. This does not mean working until 2am each night, but it does involve trying your best and engaging with tasks fully. This needs to be done in a sustainable way though. For example, at HSF I was told that if my supervisor or trainee buddy suspected I was working late into the night this would reflect more on my time management skills than anything else.

    My trainee buddy also spoke to me about how protecting evenings and your free time was one of the aspects of transitioning to working life (away from being a student) that was important to take seriously. Otherwise, especially as a trainee, it is easy to burn yourself out.

    Another thing that I did during my vacation schemes was to make clear I was there to develop and improve. During the first meeting with each of my supervisors and trainee buddies, I made it clear that I would like feedback on all aspects of my work (where possible). I made it clear that I was mostly interested in constructive feedback too, as this is the sort of feedback that would accelerate my learning. This led to some invaluable insight into how I could improve and develop in the future.

    Questions for you

    I would be fascinated to hear how you felt about the schemes that you completed last cycle. Are there areas that you felt particularly strong or weak in? Do you have anything that you might be able to share (in terms of learnings or developmental points) having completed two vacation schemes? What would you say to others who have vacation schemes coming up this spring/summer based on your experiences?

    Please do ask any clarificatory points on the above if you would like to!

    I am always here to help 🚀
    Thank you for taking the time to go into so much detail. Last cycle, I would say not going above and beyond the task assigned would be a critical fault of mine. I also think spelling issues did appear in an email task that I had to complete during a short period. I will need to take extra care not to repeat my mistakes. As this is an in-person VS, would you recommend staying the extra hours just so you can demonstrate your commitment to the firm?
     
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    Jessica Booker

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    Thank you for taking the time to go into so much detail. Last cycle, I would say not going above and beyond the task assigned would be a critical fault of mine. I also think spelling issues did appear in an email task that I had to complete during a short period. I will need to take extra care not to repeat my mistakes. As this is an in-person VS, would you recommend staying the extra hours just so you can demonstrate your commitment to the firm?
    Staying late isn't always the best solution in my opinion. It is more about making the most of your working day and only staying late if you really need to or if asked to.
     
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    jo

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    I have a vac scheme this summer, but I'm really worried that I won't be able to convert it to a TC. I think I'm also under extra pressure because this is the only vac scheme I've got this cycle and would be devastated if I failed to convert.

    MINDSET
    I'm aware that I shouldn't go into the vac scheme being too caught up about converting - so much that it distracts me from actually enjoying myself on the scheme and using this experience to figure out if commercial law and the firm is right for me. So I'll definitely work on this and make sure I'm level-headed about this throughout the scheme.

    QUESTIONS
    The tips and advice in this thread have been really helpful. But I was wondering if anyone can offer some insights on some other questions I have:
    1. Networking
      - I'm still very new to the idea of networking, so I'm quite anxious about all the networking opportunities that a vac scheme would present. If we were at an evening social, I know that it's probably not the best idea to ask people about their work, and just stick to more 'human' topics instead. But in the context of a coffee chat that's not a social, I'm still terrified of asking associates/partners about their work in particular because I don't think I know enough about law/commercial awareness to hold a proper conversation about their actual work (even if I were genuinely interested). Can someone here share a personal experience of this so I can gain insight on how this sort of conversations go (e.g. who & why you asked for a coffee chat, how you asked, what questions you asked, what you discussed in the conversation and how the conversation ended etc.)?
      - Sorry if this is a dumb question — but for an in-person vac scheme, how would you go about asking someone for a coffee chat? Do you email them first or just knock on their door when they're not on a call?
      - If I end up not asking anyone for a coffee chat/reach out to anyone else except my supervisor whilst on the scheme, would that make me look unenthusiastic?
    2. Vac Schemer Pitfalls
      - previous posts in this thread have very helpfully outlined positive attitudes that vac schemers should bring but I was wondering if it's possible to hear from @Jessica Booker from a graduate recruiter's perspective about some negative behaviours that vac schemers have presented and how to avoid them.
      - Beyond the obvious 'red flag' behaviours that would detract a firm from offering a TC to a vac schemer, is there anything else that we should avoid?
     
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    Jessica Booker

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    I have a vac scheme with Slaughter and May this summer, but I'm really worried that I won't be able to convert it to a TC. I think I'm also under extra pressure because this is the only vac scheme I've got this cycle and would be devastated if I failed to convert.

    MINDSET
    I'm aware that I shouldn't go into the vac scheme being too caught up about converting - so much that it distracts me from actually enjoying myself on the scheme and using this experience to figure out if commercial law and the firm is right for me. So I'll definitely work on this and make sure I'm level-headed about this throughout the scheme.

    QUESTIONS
    The tips and advice in this thread have been really helpful. But I was wondering if anyone can offer some insights on some other questions I have:
    1. Networking
      - I'm still very new to the idea of networking, so I'm quite anxious about all the networking opportunities that a vac scheme would present. If we were at an evening social, I know that it's probably not the best idea to ask people about their work, and just stick to more 'human' topics instead. But in the context of a coffee chat that's not a social, I'm still terrified of asking associates/partners about their work in particular because I don't think I know enough about law/commercial awareness to hold a proper conversation about their actual work (even if I were genuinely interested). Can someone here share a personal experience of this so I can gain insight on how this sort of conversations go (e.g. who & why you asked for a coffee chat, how you asked, what questions you asked, what you discussed in the conversation and how the conversation ended etc.)?
      - Sorry if this is a dumb question — but for an in-person vac scheme, how would you go about asking someone for a coffee chat? Do you email them first or just knock on their door when they're not on a call?
      - If I end up not asking anyone for a coffee chat/reach out to anyone else except my supervisor whilst on the scheme, would that make me look unenthusiastic?
    2. Vac Schemer Pitfalls
      - previous posts in this thread have very helpfully outlined positive attitudes that vac schemers should bring but I was wondering if it's possible to hear from @Jessica Booker from a graduate recruiter's perspective about some negative behaviours that vac schemers have presented and how to avoid them.
      - Beyond the obvious 'red flag' behaviours that would detract a firm from offering a TC to a vac schemer, is there anything else that we should avoid?
    Negative behaviours won’t necessarily be surprising so I think they are only obvious ones. They include:

    - rudeness
    - over confidence
    - trying to hide mistakes (or worse blame others)

    The only one that might not be obvious is not asking enough questions. This is typically for fear of looking stupid. But it’s really important to show you are inquisitive and in the case of the work you are responsible for delivering, doing it to the highest standard possible. And both of those things need you to ask questions. It’s just about analysing who the best person is to ask the question to.
     

    James Carrabino

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    I have a vac scheme this summer, but I'm really worried that I won't be able to convert it to a TC. I think I'm also under extra pressure because this is the only vac scheme I've got this cycle and would be devastated if I failed to convert.

    MINDSET
    I'm aware that I shouldn't go into the vac scheme being too caught up about converting - so much that it distracts me from actually enjoying myself on the scheme and using this experience to figure out if commercial law and the firm is right for me. So I'll definitely work on this and make sure I'm level-headed about this throughout the scheme.

    QUESTIONS
    The tips and advice in this thread have been really helpful. But I was wondering if anyone can offer some insights on some other questions I have:
    1. Networking
      - I'm still very new to the idea of networking, so I'm quite anxious about all the networking opportunities that a vac scheme would present. If we were at an evening social, I know that it's probably not the best idea to ask people about their work, and just stick to more 'human' topics instead. But in the context of a coffee chat that's not a social, I'm still terrified of asking associates/partners about their work in particular because I don't think I know enough about law/commercial awareness to hold a proper conversation about their actual work (even if I were genuinely interested). Can someone here share a personal experience of this so I can gain insight on how this sort of conversations go (e.g. who & why you asked for a coffee chat, how you asked, what questions you asked, what you discussed in the conversation and how the conversation ended etc.)?
      - Sorry if this is a dumb question — but for an in-person vac scheme, how would you go about asking someone for a coffee chat? Do you email them first or just knock on their door when they're not on a call?
      - If I end up not asking anyone for a coffee chat/reach out to anyone else except my supervisor whilst on the scheme, would that make me look unenthusiastic?
    2. Vac Schemer Pitfalls
      - previous posts in this thread have very helpfully outlined positive attitudes that vac schemers should bring but I was wondering if it's possible to hear from @Jessica Booker from a graduate recruiter's perspective about some negative behaviours that vac schemers have presented and how to avoid them.
      - Beyond the obvious 'red flag' behaviours that would detract a firm from offering a TC to a vac schemer, is there anything else that we should avoid?
    Hi @jo,

    @Jessica Booker has given you some excellent advice on vac schemer pitfalls and I did my vac schemes online so I am not best positioned to answer your question about networking, although I think that you cannot go wrong if you send a polite e-mail to a lawyer asking if they have a moment of their time to talk to you!

    The main point of my post, however, will be to help you prepare your mindset going in!

    First of all, you should feel great that you got a vac scheme!! That is incredibly impressive and better than most candidates do in a given cycle - plus now that you have a vac scheme I think from my own experience you will find that future applications (if you have to make them) will pass the application stage much more often!

    Consequently, I would recommend that you go into your vac scheme full of confidence that you are an excellent candidate because the firm selected you to be there and so you have as good a shot at a TC as anyone!

    Even if you fail to convert the vac scheme, this will be an excellent piece of work experience for you which will reveal to you whether you enjoy and excel at commercial law. You seem to be a highly determined and thoughtful applicant and so, in the scenario that you don't convert the vac scheme, I know that you can keep up the same drive going forward and will have significant future success! You should not fear failure to convert the scheme as long as you go in and try your best, since the process can be quite arbitrary at times.

    I failed to convert all three of my vac schemes into TC offers, which was incredibly disappointing at the time! I got two post-vac scheme rejections on July 13th of last year. I picked myself up and submitted a direct TC application on July 14th and another one on July 15th and they both ultimately ended up in training contract offers! I am happier with the firm I am going to than I would have been at any of the firms where I did vac schemes - it's funny how things work out...

    So this is all to say that in the event you fail to convert the scheme, all is not lost by any means, although I have a good feeling about your ability to convert it :) Go in and don't worry about the outcome because things have a way of working themselves out as long as you are honest with yourself and the work you put in.

    Please let me know if you would like any further advice in advance of your scheme!
     

    thirdtimelucky

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    Hi @jo,

    @Jessica Booker has given you some excellent advice on vac schemer pitfalls and I did my vac schemes online so I am not best positioned to answer your question about networking, although I think that you cannot go wrong if you send a polite e-mail to a lawyer asking if they have a moment of their time to talk to you!

    The main point of my post, however, will be to help you prepare your mindset going in!

    First of all, you should feel great that you got a vac scheme!! That is incredibly impressive and better than most candidates do in a given cycle - plus now that you have a vac scheme I think from my own experience you will find that future applications (if you have to make them) will pass the application stage much more often!

    Consequently, I would recommend that you go into your vac scheme full of confidence that you are an excellent candidate because the firm selected you to be there and so you have as good a shot at a TC as anyone!

    Even if you fail to convert the vac scheme, this will be an excellent piece of work experience for you which will reveal to you whether you enjoy and excel at commercial law. You seem to be a highly determined and thoughtful applicant and so, in the scenario that you don't convert the vac scheme, I know that you can keep up the same drive going forward and will have significant future success! You should not fear failure to convert the scheme as long as you go in and try your best, since the process can be quite arbitrary at times.

    I failed to convert all three of my vac schemes into TC offers, which was incredibly disappointing at the time! I got two post-vac scheme rejections on July 13th of last year. I picked myself up and submitted a direct TC application on July 14th and another one on July 15th and they both ultimately ended up in training contract offers! I am happier with the firm I am going to than I would have been at any of the firms where I did vac schemes - it's funny how things work out...

    So this is all to say that in the event you fail to convert the scheme, all is not lost by any means, although I have a good feeling about your ability to convert it :) Go in and don't worry about the outcome because things have a way of working themselves out as long as you are honest with yourself and the work you put in.

    Please let me know if you would like any further advice in advance of your scheme!
    Thank you so much for writing this James! Although I am not the original poster I was feeling the same way about my odds on a (virtual) vac scheme and this has made me feel so much better! Especially around whether I can’t convert! 🙏🏼
     

    James Carrabino

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    Thank you so much for writing this James! Although I am not the original poster I was feeling the same way about my odds on a (virtual) vac scheme and this has made me feel so much better! Especially around whether I can’t convert! 🙏🏼
    @thirdtimelucky I am really happy if my post helped to ease your mind 😊 Nevertheless, I would put money on your chances given you've shown that not even Covid can stop you performing your best! When does your scheme start?
     
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    thirdtimelucky

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    @thirdtimelucky I am really happy if my post helped to ease your mind 😊 Nevertheless, I would put money on your chances given you've shown that not even Covid can stop you performing your best! When does your scheme start?
    Thank you so much James, it’s starts on the 4th April!! (So only a two weeks away which terrifies me haha!)
     
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    James Carrabino

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    Thank you so much James, it’s starts on the 4th April!! (So only a two weeks away which terrifies me haha!)
    Ah good luck I am sure you will do a great job! Do reach out if you have any further queries about converting your scheme :)
     
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    MN

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    Hi everyone! I am a law graduate and paralegal at Hogan Lovells. I have a place on a Linklaters’ spring vacation scheme which I have permission to attend. Please can someone tell me what type of work I will be expected to undertake on a Linklaters’ vacation scheme and how these schemes are generally assessed? Do you think the vacation scheme work tasks would be comparable to that of a paralegal? Many thanks!
     

    George Maxwell

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    I have a vac scheme this summer, but I'm really worried that I won't be able to convert it to a TC. I think I'm also under extra pressure because this is the only vac scheme I've got this cycle and would be devastated if I failed to convert.

    MINDSET
    I'm aware that I shouldn't go into the vac scheme being too caught up about converting - so much that it distracts me from actually enjoying myself on the scheme and using this experience to figure out if commercial law and the firm is right for me. So I'll definitely work on this and make sure I'm level-headed about this throughout the scheme.

    QUESTIONS
    The tips and advice in this thread have been really helpful. But I was wondering if anyone can offer some insights on some other questions I have:
    1. Networking
      - I'm still very new to the idea of networking, so I'm quite anxious about all the networking opportunities that a vac scheme would present. If we were at an evening social, I know that it's probably not the best idea to ask people about their work, and just stick to more 'human' topics instead. But in the context of a coffee chat that's not a social, I'm still terrified of asking associates/partners about their work in particular because I don't think I know enough about law/commercial awareness to hold a proper conversation about their actual work (even if I were genuinely interested). Can someone here share a personal experience of this so I can gain insight on how this sort of conversations go (e.g. who & why you asked for a coffee chat, how you asked, what questions you asked, what you discussed in the conversation and how the conversation ended etc.)?
      - Sorry if this is a dumb question — but for an in-person vac scheme, how would you go about asking someone for a coffee chat? Do you email them first or just knock on their door when they're not on a call?
      - If I end up not asking anyone for a coffee chat/reach out to anyone else except my supervisor whilst on the scheme, would that make me look unenthusiastic?
    2. Vac Schemer Pitfalls
      - previous posts in this thread have very helpfully outlined positive attitudes that vac schemers should bring but I was wondering if it's possible to hear from @Jessica Booker from a graduate recruiter's perspective about some negative behaviours that vac schemers have presented and how to avoid them.
      - Beyond the obvious 'red flag' behaviours that would detract a firm from offering a TC to a vac schemer, is there anything else that we should avoid?
    Hey @jo,

    First off, I wanted to say that I really admire your questions. They are clear, open and honest. You have managed to put words to, and accurately describe, anxieties that a lot of people (myself included) would struggle to delineate.

    Re: networking

    I empathise with your concerns about networking. My biggest tip would be to ask questions that you are genuinely interested in. If you are curious about something, do not be afraid to raise it in conversation. When speaking to someone about their work, they will realise that you are a vacation schemer. They will be aware that you may lack certain pieces of contextual knowledge, so try not to worry about asking (what you worry may be) silly/obvious questions.

    An example

    A lawyer I reached out to on a (virtual) vacation scheme worked in Insolvency and Financial Restructuring. They presented to my vacation scheme cohort and I followed up with an email asking whether they would have time for a coffee. If this had been on an in-person scheme, I would have thanked the person who presented afterwards and either:
    • a. asked my trainee buddy how to find where their office was, or found it myself (so I could find them to ask if they had time for a coffee at some point), or
    • b. sent them an email afterwards to thank them again and ask if they would have time for a coffee to discuss X. I think that now I would most likely default to emailing them, purely because I would not want to interrupt them by knocking on their door.
    When we spoke, I asked them about what their attraction had been to insolvency and what other seats they considered. I then asked about the team in general. I wanted to know the type of work the group did and their client base. I then asked about their personal experience working in law, whether they enjoyed the job and if they had struggled since starting their training contract.

    The ending of the conversation was fairly natural. I tried to make clear that I didn't want to take up too much of their time, so they let me know when they had to get back to things.

    Asking people for coffee

    In terms of being marked down for not asking people for coffee, again largely I would not worry. Following a few of my vacation schemes, I was told that my enthusiasm and willingness to reach out to people had been flagged as a good thing. That being said, I do know people who didn't go for coffee with anyone during their scheme and they still got it!

    Ultimately, the most important thing is to do the work that you are given to the highest standard you can manage, whilst building up a strong relationship with your trainee buddy and supervisor. You should prioritise your core tasks in particular, as receiving good marks on these will form the basis of any decision to extend a TC offer (on my understanding at least!).

    Common pitfalls

    I would caveat what Jess has said by saying that I think it is important not to ask questions for the sake of it. On one of my schemes there was someone who consistently asked very obvious and unnecessary questions in an effort to be seen by GR and to stand out (that is what it seemed like anyway!). I will say that they did not receive an offer, but this is likely have been based on other things. However, looking back I am certain that GR were not noting down names of people who asked questions and those who did not. Some of the people who got the TC never asked a single question!

    My advice in general would be to lean into your natural curiosity rather than asking inauthentic questions.

    I hope that helps! Please let me know if you would like any more advice ahead of your vacation scheme 😊. I wish you all the best for it in any case!
    Hi everyone! I am a law graduate and paralegal at Hogan Lovells. I have a place on a Linklaters’ spring vacation scheme which I have permission to attend. Please can someone tell me what type of work I will be expected to undertake on a Linklaters’ vacation scheme and how these schemes are generally assessed? Do you think the vacation scheme work tasks would be comparable to that of a paralegal? Many thanks!
    Hey @MN,

    Congratulations for receiving a VS offer from LLs!

    Unfortunately I do not have any direct experience of the type of work given to vacation schemers on the LLs VS. I am sure that you are aware, but the type of work given can vary hugely between firms. Broadly though, from what I have heard VS tasks will be very similar to a lot of paralegal tasks. I actually spoke with my supervisor about this on one of my schemes, who said that some paralegals do a better job than many trainees. Your paralegal experience should set you up very well ahead of your scheme.

    That said, this post (and thread) might be helpful in giving you an idea of the sort of work that students might expect to be given on a vacation scheme. I would also suggest having a scroll through the forum using the search bar. You are likely to find plenty of posts about the LLs AC and VS too. This material might be helpful in itself. In addition though you might find it helpful to reach out to users who have posted this content to ask them what to expect!

    All the best for your scheme. Please do let me know how it goes. Feel free to reach out at any point too 🙌
     
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    jo

    Star Member
    Sep 11, 2021
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    Hey @jo,

    First off, I wanted to say that I really admire your questions. They are clear, open and honest. You have managed to put words to, and accurately describe, anxieties that a lot of people (myself included) would struggle to delineate.

    Re: networking

    I empathise with your concerns about networking. My biggest tip would be to ask questions that you are genuinely interested in. If you are curious about something, do not be afraid to raise it in conversation. When speaking to someone about their work, they will realise that you are a vacation schemer. They will be aware that you may lack certain pieces of contextual knowledge, so try not to worry about asking (what you worry may be) silly/obvious questions.

    An example

    A lawyer I reached out to on a (virtual) vacation scheme worked in Insolvency and Financial Restructuring. They presented to my vacation scheme cohort and I followed up with an email asking whether they would have time for a coffee. If this had been on an in-person scheme, I would have thanked the person who presented afterwards and either:
    • a. asked my trainee buddy how to find where their office was, or found it myself (so I could find them to ask if they had time for a coffee at some point), or
    • b. sent them an email afterwards to thank them again and ask if they would have time for a coffee to discuss X. I think that now I would most likely default to emailing them, purely because I would not want to interrupt them by knocking on their door.
    When we spoke, I asked them about what their attraction had been to insolvency and what other seats they considered. I then asked about the team in general. I wanted to know the type of work the group did and what sort of client the firm specialised in assisting. I then spoke about their personal experience working in law, whether they enjoyed the job and if they had struggled since starting their training contract.

    The ending of the conversation was fairly natural. I tried to make clear that I didn't want to take up too much of their time, so they let me know when they had to get back to things.

    Asking people for coffee

    In terms of being marked down for not asking people for coffee, again largely I would not worry. Following a few of my vacation schemes, I was told that my enthusiasm and willingness to reach out to people had been flagged as a good thing. That being said, I do know people who didn't go for coffee with anyone during their scheme and they still got it!

    Ultimately, the most important thing is to do the work that you are given to the highest standard you can manage, whilst building up a strong relationship with your trainee buddy and supervisor. You should prioritise your core tasks in particular, as receiving good marks on these will form the basis of any decision to extend a TC offer (on my understanding at least!).

    Common pitfalls

    I would caveat what Jess has said by saying that I think it is important not to ask questions for the sake of it. On one of my schemes there was someone who consistently asked very obvious and unnecessary questions in an effort to be seen by GR and to stand out (that is what it seemed like anyway!). I will say that they did not receive an offer, but this is likely have been based on other things. However, looking back I am certain that GR were not noting down names of people who asked questions and those who did not. Some of the people who got the TC never asked a single question!

    My advice in general would be to lean into your natural curiosity rather than asking inauthentic questions.

    I hope that helps! Please let me know if you would like any more advice ahead of your vacation scheme 😊. I wish you all the best for it in any case!

    Hey @MN,

    Congratulations for receiving a VS offer from LLs!

    Unfortunately I do not have any direct experience of the type of work given to vacation schemers on the LLs VS. I am sure that you are aware, but the type of work given can vary hugely between firms. Broadly though, from what I have heard VS tasks will be very similar to a lot of paralegal tasks. I actually spoke with my supervisor about this on one of my schemes, who said that some paralegals do a better job than many trainees. Your paralegal experience should set you up very well ahead of your scheme.

    That said, this post (and thread) might be helpful in giving you an idea of the sort of work that students might expect to be given on a vacation scheme. I would also suggest having a scroll through the forum using the search bar. You are likely to find plenty of posts about the LLs AC and VS too. This material might be helpful in itself. In addition though you might find it helpful to reach out to users who have posted this content to ask them what to expect!

    All the best for your scheme. Please do let me know how it goes. Feel free to reach out at any point too 🙌
    @George Maxwell thank you so much for this!
     
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