Don’t sweat the small stuff - vacation schemes

Jessica Booker

Legendary Member
Graduate Recruitment
Premium Member
Forum Team
Aug 1, 2019
6,267
8,882
As we have had a few posts where people are worried about how they are perceived on vacation schemes, and I have also had a fair number of PMs on the same topic, I thought it would be useful to list out some of the things you really don’t need to worry about when it comes to vacation schemes.

- Not asking questions in a large group environment such as a panel talk/networking event (typically not everyone can ask questions given time limits). In a similar way if you “submit” questions before the event and yours doesn’t get chosen, it doesn’t mean anything - it doesn’t mean it was a stupid question to ask, it just means they answered other questions.

- Attendng social events, lunchtime talks or events put on by the firm instead of staying behind to do work. Unless your supervisor says they need you to stay to work, you are not going to be perceived badly. The firm has put the event on for employees and wants people to attend - that is no different to vacation schemers

- How many informal coffee sessions you organise compared to your peers. There is no right answer to how many you could/should do. It’s much more about what you gain from them than how many you do

- forgetting someone’s name - we all do it. And we expect that interns will probably forget more than anyone as they are learning everyone’s name for the first time, while people who have been at the firm for ages even do it from time to time

- your work not being perfect the first time around. Expect any work you do to be reviewed and criticised - it is something you have to be prepared to happen for most of your career, and more so as a intern/trainee/junior lawyer. Expect significant mark-ups of documents, supervisors to highlight what is irrelevant, what is missing etc. It doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good enough - it just means you need to do some additional work on it. This isn’t like academia where you typically get one chance of submitting an assessment and your performance is “graded” purely on that content. Expect multiple revisions of your work. about the final product than the first draft.

- you find yourself asking a lot of questions about the work you are doing. That’s normal and expected. Firm’s tend to be worried more about those not asking questions about what they are doing.

- how much work you have compared to your fellow vac schemers. They are working in different departments with different supervisors. This is the reality of the working in law firms. It isn’t down to your/your abilities/how you are perceived - it’s just down to the variables outside of your control.

- what other vac schemers think about you. You are never going to best buddies with everyone, if there are individual people you just don’t gel with, that doesn’t mean anything about you (or them). Even smaller commercial law firms are big enough that you don’t to be everyone’s best friend.

- small and inconsequential mistakes. Spelling your colleagues name wrong in an internal email, turning up to the wrong meeting room, leaving your notebook in the canteen, leaving your coat at a social event - all things normal people do all the time. These things happen - it’s highly likely that no one is going to remember it apart from you, and if someone does remember, they really won’t care. They generally have more important things to care about.

- being late because of public transport delays. We have all been there and it’s likely if you are running late, so are other people in the office. It unfortunately happens from time to time. The one off late start is easily forgotten, especially if you just make up the time that day. Same goes for technology if you are working remotely - people’s Wi-fi will go at times, electricity cuts happen. No one is going to judge you if it happens, because it’s happened to them to

- Your Zoom background - we have seen it all really. As long as there isn’t anything overtly offensive or your background isn’t ridiculously messy, it really doesn’t matter what your decor is like. If your really worried, then putting your zoom background on “fuzzy” isn’t really an issue - lots of people do it!

Please feel free to add your own “don’t sweat the small stuff” comments or feel free to ask if there are other things you are concerned about during your vacation scheme.
 
Last edited:

Dheepa

Legendary Member
Future Trainee
Forum Team
M&A Bootcamp
  • Jan 20, 2019
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    1,938
    So exactly a year ago now I had just started on my first of three vacs for the summer. Here's some of the small stuff (some not so small maybe) I heavily overthought and stressed about across all three.
    • Towards the end of one of my seats I was given a research task on a Thursday evening that I needed to submit by COB Friday. The deadline and time pressure really got to me and ultimately I don't think it was the strongest piece of work I submitted - I spent the next week of the VS stressing about this. I still remember how much I let this eat me up inside and I was completely convinced that I had ruined my chances at the TC.
      • Ultimately received decent feedback on the task anyway. There were areas of improvement but the person reviewing it told me she was very aware of the time crunch and was grateful for the help anyway.
    • While working on another task, I had made two mistakes when doing some basic calculations (don't ask me why I was doing math at a law firm. As these things normally go, I only spotted these right after I had sent out the email.
      • Apologised profusely to my supervisor about it. He told me not to worry, that it does happen and that he was glad I spotted and rectified it immediately.
    • My group actually came in last for in the group assessment at one firm. Out of everyone we got the most critical feedback.
      • This came up during my TC interview and I explained that I was aware of the mistakes we had made and what I could have done better.
    • I asked a question during a presentation that the partner actually laughed at (trust me when I say it wasn't a oh that's funny laugh but a oh that's ridiculous laugh). He still answered it but again as someone that stressed about small things that entire interaction made me feel incredibly silly.
      • I think partners forget what students know and don't know sometimes. Ultimately I don't think he remembered that interaction at all, and certainly didn't stress about it the way I did.
    As a chronic over thinker myself I know its easier said than done, but try to remember that the mistakes you make during a VS are (1) probably mistakes people have made a thousand times over before you and (2) almost always more inconsequential than you think.

    My best advice on mindset for anyone heading into a VS is:
    1. Produce high quality work - Remember that quality always matters over quantity and if you're comparing how much work you're doing with other vac scheme students, overthinking it, then taking on more work than necessary - it will detriment the quality of your work in the long run.
    2. Don't overthink - I really believe a huge part of vac schemes is being the person that your supervisor, trainee buddy and everyone you interact with WANTS to hire. You need to build good relationships with people because you want them to back you as the candidate who deserves the TC! It is incredibly hard to be yourself, ask genuine questions and let your personality shine if you get caught up in stressing all the small stuff.
    If you are reading this post, I sincerely hope it offers you some comfort. I don't think you need to be the "perfect candidate" to get a TC offer. I definitely wasn't the "perfect candidate" and somehow ended up with three offers. As long as you're doing the small things really well, you'll already have a good shot at the TC. There is no better way to show the firm how much you want the TC than to just go in everyday with the intention of enjoying your time there. :)
     

    Kubed

    Legendary Member
    Premium Member
  • Nov 25, 2020
    130
    468
    As we have had a few posts where people are worried about how they are perceived on vacation schemes, and I have also had a fair number of PMs on the same topic, I thought it would be useful to list out some of the things you really don’t need to worry about when it comes to vacation schemes.

    - Not asking questions in a large group environment such as a panel talk/networking event (typically not everyone can ask questions given time limits). In a similar way if you “submit” questions before the event and yours doesn’t get chosen, it doesn’t mean anything - it doesn’t mean it was a stupid question to ask, it just means they answered other questions.

    - Attendng social events, lunchtime talks or events put on by the firm instead of staying behind to do work. Unless your supervisor says they need you to stay to work, you are not going to be perceived badly. The firm has put the event on for employees and wants people to attend - that is no different to vacation schemers

    - How many informal coffee sessions you organise compared to your peers. There is no right answer to how many you could/should do. It’s much more about what you gain from them than how many you do

    - forgetting someone’s name - we all do it. And we expect that interns will probably forget more than anyone as they are learning everyone’s name for the first time, while people who have been at the firm for ages even do it from time to time

    - your work not being perfect the first time around. Expect any work you do to be reviewed and criticised - it is something you have to be prepared to happen for most of your career, and more so as a intern/trainee/junior lawyer. Expect significant mark-ups of documents, supervisors to highlight what is irrelevant, what is missing etc. It doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good enough - it just means you need to do some additional work on it. This isn’t like academia where you typically get one chance of submitting an assessment and your performance is “graded” purely on that content. Expect multiple revisions of your work. about the final product than the first draft.

    - you find yourself asking a lot of questions about the work you are doing. That’s normal and expected. Firm’s tend to be worried more about those not asking questions about what they are doing.

    - how much work you have compared to your fellow vac schemers. They are working in different departments with different supervisors. This is the reality of the working in law firms. It isn’t down to your/your abilities/how you are perceived - it’s just down to the variables outside of your control.

    - what other vac schemers think about you. You are never going to best buddies with everyone, if there are individual people you just don’t gel with, that doesn’t mean anything about you (or them). Even smaller commercial law firms are big enough that you don’t to be everyone’s best friend.

    - small and inconsequential mistakes. Spelling your colleagues name wrong in an internal email, turning up to the wrong meeting room, leaving your notebook in the canteen, leaving your coat at a social event - all things normal people do all the time. These things happen - it’s highly likely that no one is going to remember it apart from you, and if someone does remember, they really won’t care. They generally have more important things to care about.

    - being late because of public transport delays. We have all been there and it’s likely if you are running late, so are other people in the office. It unfortunately happens from time to time. The one off late start is easily forgotten, especially if you just make up the time that day. Same goes for technology if you are working remotely - people’s Wi-fi will go at times, electricity cuts happen. No one is going to judge you if it happens, because it’s happened to them to

    - Your Zoom background - we have seen it all really. As long as there isn’t anything overtly offensive or your background isn’t ridiculously messy, it really doesn’t matter what your decor is like. If your really worried, then putting your zoom background on “fuzzy” isn’t really an issue - lots of people do it!

    Please feel free to add your own “don’t sweat the small stuff” comments or feel free to ask if there are other things you are concerned about during your vacation scheme.
    This is really useful, thanks. Does the fifth point about work not being perfect also apply to fictional virtual vac scheme tasks (that are assessed)? It really does feel like a piece of coursework that is submitted at the end of the week - having looked through mine again there are one or two errors I can find, not ideal but I'm hoping these won't be make or break?
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    6,267
    8,882
    This is really useful, thanks. Does the fifth point about work not being perfect also apply to fictional virtual vac scheme tasks (that are assessed)? It really does feel like a piece of coursework that is submitted at the end of the week - having looked through mine again there are one or two errors I can find, not ideal but I'm hoping these won't be make or break?
    Yes - perfect doesn’t exist, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not reaching it whatever it is. It’s the same way as you are highly unlikely to get a 100% in a piece of coursework.

    Obviously it depends what the errors are in the document. Anything that fundamentally screws up the whole context of the document will be looked at very differently that a typo or formatting “error”.
     
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    Kubed

    Legendary Member
    Premium Member
  • Nov 25, 2020
    130
    468
    Yes - perfect doesn’t exist, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up for not reaching it whatever it is. It’s the same way as you are highly unlikely to get a 100% in a piece of coursework.

    Obviously it depends what the errors are in the document. Anything that fundamentally screws up the whole context of the document will be looked at very differently that a typo or formatting “error”.
    Thanks. The errors are use of the word 'confidential documentation' rather than 'confidential information' in one instance and missing out the word 'and' at the end of a sentence. I'm frustrated with myself more than anything, I'm usually quite good at checking for these things before submitting!
     

    Jessica Booker

    Legendary Member
    Graduate Recruitment
    Premium Member
    Forum Team
    Aug 1, 2019
    6,267
    8,882
    Thanks. The errors are use of the word 'confidential documentation' rather than 'confidential information' in one instance and missing out the word 'and' at the end of a sentence. I'm frustrated with myself more than anything, I'm usually quite good at checking for these things before submitting!
    You wouldn’t be rejected on that basis alone.
     
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