The winter vacation scheme season is in full swing. If you've been lucky enough to secure a coveted place on a scheme, here's what you need to do to succeed and turn that week in the office into an offer of a training contract.
1. Eyes on the prize. Vacation schemes are many firms' preferred way of screening and selecting potential candidates for a training contract. With that in mind, do your best to contribute to the team you are assigned to, whatever the task. Vac scheme students can be a tremendous asset, helping with trainee tasks and generally chipping in, or a complete liability, getting under everyone's feet and needing near-constant entertainment. Be proactive in seeking out work, but mindful that you may be at a loose end at times. Remember that the team you sit with will certainly be asked for feedback on your work. It can be awkward coming into an unfamiliar office, but smiling and showing enthusiasm for your work goes a long way.
2. Speak to as many trainees and junior associates as possible about the firm. Do they like the work they're doing? Does HR consider their seat choice requests? What do they like (and dislike) about the firm? Take the opportunity to speak candidly to people - most are very happy to offer guidance and support.
3. Take part in social events. Law firms, particularly larger ones with established graduate recruitment programmes, will typically hold evening events for vacation scheme students and sometimes trainees - anything from drinks at the local pub through paintball and ice-skating. Join in, even if the long winter nights make you want to hibernate. You don't need to turn it into a big night out (especially if you're meant to be at work the next day), but you do need to show off your social side.
4. ... but not too much. Christmas party season is in full swing, and you may well be invited along. Remember that a work party is still work, so go easy on the wine and spirits - you need to show that you can conduct yourself properly.