Top tips on how to make the most of a vacation scheme

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article by Georgia Horrocks

Applying for training contracts can be tough. You may have got through the difficult online applications and have successfully been offered a place on a vacation scheme, but this is where the real work starts. Vacation schemes are exciting and a great way to experience the firm, but they can be tiring. Georgia Horrocks offers some tips to help you to make the most of the opportunity.

1. Be punctual

It sounds like an obvious point to start with, but you can never underestimate being early/ on time. Don’t be the person who walks in 15 minutes late at 9.15am as you will stick out like a sore thumb, especially when there are other students on the vacation scheme who have all been in the office since 8am. The last thing you want is a silly mistake to hinder your chances of the training contract. If you are travelling on public transport, try catching an earlier train or bus and grab a coffee in the station. If, on the unfortunate circumstance (but we know it happens), that your train/ bus is delayed, make sure you let someone at the firm know as soon as you can. 

2. Accept everything that comes your way

Depending on how organised your vacation scheme is, there may be tasks waiting for you in the particular department you are in. However, one top tip is to take up all tasks that are offered to you, no matter who from. Being enthusiastic when your team ask you to help on client work really shines through and not only comes across as keen and interested to that person, but it also gets you the most exposure to different areas of the firm and different people. It can help to develop your time management if you have a few tasks on for different people. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s just as important to work with a trainee or NQ as it is to work with a partner.

3. Be social 

This can sometimes be difficult due to previous commitments you might have, but if there is the opportunity to go to a networking or social event, make every effort to attend. Not only do socials allow you to talk to more people within the firm, but it also means you get the chance to speak to people in a relaxed atmosphere and get to know them.

4. Being loud isn’t always the best

If you are on a vacation scheme with a group of other students, it’s easy to think that being the loudest will get you noticed. However, being loud and overpowering can sometimes be a detriment – it can come across like you want to be noticed rather than actively being involved in a discussion, and can be overshadowing to other students. If you know the answer in a particular group exercise then speak up but make sure other people get the chance too, as this demonstrates respect and shows you can work well with other people.

5. Be yourself

Another cliché, but it’s important to be yourself on a vacation scheme. Trying to force yourself to be someone else won’t last the whole length of the vacation scheme and the people in the firm will see right through it. Your personality is your selling factor and may be the only thing standing you apart against another candidate – why pretend to be someone else when you don't even know the someone else they’re looking for?

Hopefully these top tips will help you prepare for the upcoming summer vacation schemes. Just remember to throw yourself into it – nothing is a wasted experience.

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