Vacation Scheme Preparation

Discussion in 'Vacation Schemes and Training Contracts 2020+' started by Daniel Boden, May 26, 2020.

  1. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Hi guys,

    Per my post in the 'hearing back from law firms' thread, I thought I would create this so we can bounce ideas off each other and help each other out with any questions to ensure that we can all (hopefully) get those TC offers after this summer!

    I'll post my approach today but please fire away with any questions :)

    Just by way of background for those who don't know, I did a scheme at Weil last summer and am doing one this summer with Gibson Dunn.

    Dan
     
    #1 Daniel Boden, May 26, 2020
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  2. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    I am delighted to say that @Alice G has also agreed to share her tips for vacation schemes so please feel free to ask either or both of us with your questions!
     
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  3. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Hey guys,

    We’re also doing this as we appreciate Vac schemes can be daunting and both myself and Dan can empathise with any worries or concerns. Please do feel free to ask us anything at all about how to best cope with nerves and how we chose to approach certain tasks etc! We hope this thread will allay any concerns and act as a central thread for Vac scheme prep!

    For some context and background to anyone who’s new, I had two schemes last year: one with Shearman and another with Latham.
     
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  4. Konstantinos

    Konstantinos Well-Known Member

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    Thank you both! I just wanted to ask how you guys go about preparing for vacation schemes before actually starting them?
     
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  5. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Hi Konstantinos,

    Thanks for your question!

    So the way that I'm preparing for this vacation scheme is to try and upskill myself in terms of financial knowledge and to just become more financially literate which will help my commercial awareness. I'd really recommend looking at some courses on Coursera or Harvard EDX which I think a lot of people will find very useful. Equally, I'd really recommend Allen & Overy's 'Anatomy of a Deal' and Ray Dalio's 'How the Economic Machine Works' as they explain fairly complicated concepts in a brilliantly simple way.

    As well as this, now that I've finished university, I'll be trying to keep on top with topical commercial issues. I prefer to listen to podcasts so I listen to the FT Daily Briefing, the Commercial Awareness podcast and other similar podcasts which I'd recommend.

    Equally, given the profound impact of COVID-19 across the board, I'd recommend choosing 2/3 particular industries that interest you the most and following them for the next few weeks. So, for me, I'm following the impact of COVID-19 on private equity, the automotive industry and the retail industry and looking at what it could potentially mean for these industries going forwards.

    Closer to my scheme, I'll do an overview of the firm (Gibson Dunn) and just update my notes since I did my interview. I'm more than happy to share this template for people if it'll be useful?

    Other than that, I'm trying not to think about it too much and am trying to exercise and enjoy the nice weather we're blessed with at the moment as I think that finding a balance is crucial to having scheme success.

    Hope that helps! :)
     
    #5 Daniel Boden, May 26, 2020
    Last edited: May 26, 2020
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  6. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Incredible advice Dan!

    Asides from doing this type of prep as Dan has said, I would also listen to some ted talks about confidence and how to address any weaknesses. Maybe this is too personal an example to apply to everyone, but I was very nervous for my first scheme so tried to build my confidence and listen to podcasts which addressed nervousness before my second scheme. One regret was that I didn’t tackle my issues with public speaking before my second scheme so that’s where the addressing weaknesses piece comes in.

    Asides this, please do relax. They can be an intense couple of weeks so really try to conserve your energies. It’s best to go into this feeling fresh and relaxed so as to get yourself in the best headspace possible :)
     
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  7. Zoë Stainton

    Zoë Stainton Standard Member

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    hi! if you guys have any advice on how i could prepare for a virtual vacation scheme would be super helpful as this is very new for me! i don't know what to expect!
     
  8. Dennis Varghese

    Dennis Varghese Active Member

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    Enrolling into virtual internships on Insidesherpa is a good starting point.
     
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  9. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Hi Zoe,

    I believe @Jessica Booker is just finishing off something for this so that should clear up things for you :)
     
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  10. Ren97

    Ren97 Star Member

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    Hi Alice and Dan,

    This may seem like a ridiculous question as I am aware it is probably very personal to each person's circumstances, but how would you suggest shaking the feeling of not being good enough?

    I've done a vac scheme before and so assumed I'd be less nervous, but my anxieties are even more magnified this time around especially because having failed to get a TC offer last time I'm hyperaware how tough it can be even after getting the vac. Even now I'm constantly worrying about what I can do to make myself the exceptional candidate and how I/my experiences may not be as accomplished/interesting as other candidates.

    Thank you both for always being so kind and supportive on this forum!
     
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  11. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Hi @Ren97

    Not ridiculous in any way and thank you for being so brave to post this.

    I totally resonate with this. For me, I just knew in my heart of hearts that I had allowed my anxieties to get the better of me on my first scheme and I spent so much time worrying I didn't allow myself to enjoy the time I had on that first vac. Instead of going into my second scheme with the mindset of securing the TC, I went in there with the aim of enjoying myself and immersing myself properly in the experience. The moment I refocused and reframed my thinking I found things much more manageable. I didn't feel immediate dread upon getting work and foreseeing myself messing it up as I just focused on learning as much as I could and just simply doing my best without the incessant need to be 'perfect'. I think I just really consciously tried to relax and took the approach that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger and if the TC didn't come, then it wasn't meant to be. I think having this mindset has been something which has generally helped me with rejection and has made me appreciate the setbacks call the more.

    Sorry for the monologue here but really hope this helps and please feel free to ask follow-ups on this, I truly am an open book where this is concerned and more than happy to share.
     
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  12. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Firstly thank you for your kind words! I know myself and @Alice G really appreciate them :)

    In terms of your question, firstly I think you should know that what you feel is completely normal and that everyone goes through periods of self-doubt so you really are not alone in this!

    Alice pretty much took the words out of my mouth haha. Given I also was unsuccessful in getting a TC from Weil (which was made even harder to swallow when my supervisors told me they had recommended me for one) I completely get your thoughts and do share the feeling that the pressure is on me to a certain extent to get a TC this time around with Gibson Dunn. That said, I really think having the approach of just throwing yourself into the scheme, being yourself and doing everything you can to enjoy it and give the best account of yourself is the best way forward. I am a great believer in whatever will be will be or 'qué será será' to show off my Spanish a little :)

    That's to say that if I feel I have done everything possible my end to get the TC and perform well on the scheme through my preparation then I really can't be annoyed at myself and if that means I get a TC amazing but if it doesn't then, whilst I'll be gutted initially, it is a great learning opportunity and will only make me an even stronger candidate going forwards.

    I hope that helps and please feel free to reach out with any further follow-up questions - I too am an open book in this regard too :)

    EDIT: just to add to the above and I think my sporting background helps me with this but I'd really encourage anyone feeling this way to just focus on controlling what you can control. As hard as it may sound initially, I am a great believer in that if we focus on doing the best we can on each task we are given, on each bit of preparation we do then there really is nothing more to be worried or concerned about as the result will take care of itself and at the very least we should be proud of our efforts :)
     
    #12 Daniel Boden, May 27, 2020
    Last edited: May 27, 2020
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  13. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    Very well said @Daniel Boden!
     
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  14. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Thanks Alice :) Hopefully I can put those words into action haha
     
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  15. Alice G

    Alice G Legendary Member
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    You have got this!!
     
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  16. Jessica Booker

    Jessica Booker Legendary Member
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    It is on its way - sorry have been caught up with wisdom teeth pain and a couple of last minute projects that have come up outside of TCLA.
     
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  17. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    No worries at all! I've been there re the wisdom teeth and it's really not fun so I hope that clears up quickly for you!
     
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  18. Ren97

    Ren97 Star Member

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    Thank you both so much for the advice. Definitely will try to get into the mindset of just enjoying myself and learn to let go and focus on what I can do!

    And best of luck to you too Dan with GD! I'm sure you'll smash it! :)
     
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  19. Daniel Boden

    Daniel Boden Legendary Member
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    Thanks so much @Ren97! All the best with yours too :)
     
  20. M&ALawyer

    M&ALawyer Star Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Just like to add how I am preparing for upcoming vacation schemes. Having spoken to partners who assess vacation scheme students, I have gauged the following criteria as being important. Note that this is not a ubiquitous view, as i'm sure solicitors of different firms value different things too. Additionally, it may also be known/common sense to those on here.

    • Understand how you can apply current affairs to a transaction/department/deal, and don't be shy to do this. From my understanding, what distinguishes candidates is not just solely carrying out the tasks they set - but applying perspectives and wider knowledge that are unique. Of course, there are many instances where it is not possible to do this. But by bringing a flair of originality in some tasks through commercial awareness it will clearly separate you from others. Even if you are wrong, by trying it will gain you points (within reason).
      • I am learning who the firms clients are in specific sectors, what their priorities are, and highlighting stories relating to these clients in the economist/FT. Also I am looking at reports which show developments in sectors the firm works in. I think using legal and non-legal annual reports will also help here.

    • Act well socially, and work with others - do not excessively compete against each other. From what I've heard there are countless incidents of students who do not act in a way solicitors would at the firm. Arrogance and excessive competition is generally not viewed favourably. A firm will prefer a cohort of 5 vacation scheme students who work really well together, than 5 who work independently and very competitively. This is dependent on the firm, however, as US firms take a different perspective to British firms – although as a principle it is good to follow.
      • I don't think preparation is necessary as much per se. I am watching some videos on how to best work in groups, and trying to draw from what's worked in past group activities. Learning how to actively listen and contribute to others ideas can only be beneficial.

    • Be enthusiastic, inquisitive, and sociable. I think it goes without saying that a firm will prefer someone who really enjoys the environment and will thrive there. In talks they give, ask questions and arrange coffee meetings with the person giving the talk if it is a topic that genuinely interests you. Be clear on what you must do when given work, and ask questions about any uncertainties. It is better to clarify/ask questions about the work provided so you get it right - than get it wrong by guessing. Also be sociable/respectful with everyone you come across – regardless of whether they are managing partner or a paralegal.
      • Planning some questions to prep beforehand, and looking at certain contracts (some are available on gold membership here I believe) will come in use. Aside from that, you either fit in at that firm or you don't - so if you're not interested in anything there I personally don't believe there's any point forcing it. If you get the training contract and don't like the firm, you will be unhappy/worse off a few years down the line.

    • Keep a record (log book) of everything you do on the vacation scheme, and start building on interview notes beforehand and during the scheme. The interview for a training contract can come during the vac scheme when youre working and have other tasks to do. It's not always at the end of the scheme.
      • I think by preparing for the interview before the scheme, you are putting yourself in a better position. You can then use the log book to back up points you've made.

    I think loads of other good points have been raised on this thread, such as understanding how the City works in general. Law is just one part of the transaction, and understanding how banking/accountancy etc works in a deal can only be useful.

    Outside of this, honestly I think one of the main challenges of the whole vacation scheme process is a mental one, feeling that you may be out of place or not as good as others there. It is competitive process and not everyone gets a job. However, they selected you for the vac scheme because they believe you have the potential to work there. If you give it your all, do some preparation beforehand, and act professionally – there's not much else you can do. Worst case scenario if you don't end up with a training contract is that you are given a decent salary for a week or two of work, and have experience which is invaluable for the next cycle.

    If anyone has any other ideas it would be great to hear them.

    Best of luck.
     
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