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Too many vacation schemes?

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    I've just received a Christmas vacation scheme offer from a top City firm, and so have begun to turn my attention towards Spring/Summer placements. But this got me thinking...

    Is it possible to overdo it on the vacation scheme front? I have legal experience on my CV already, and as I said I am about to add a two-week placement with a commercial firm to that. Upon completing this placement, should I then turn my attention to TC applications, or would I be better off trying to fit another VS in there?

    Thanks in advance.
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    It depends!

    Some firms recruit heavily from VS, so if you want to work for one of them you have to apply for VS obviously.

    I have been told by recruiting partners/grad recruitment that there is a diminishing return. A couple in different sectors/sizes can make you a better informed candidate. For example, doing a VS at US vs MC firm will give you insight into the different cultures/working practices. Beyond that, multiple VS don't add much value to you as a candidate.

    VS are about buying as well as selling for both parties.

    I do get the impression that some strong candidates who live in London do multiple VS for the money (MacFarlanes told me that they had recruited no one from a particular VS because everyone was basically taking the p***).

    If your story is already good enough to get a Winter VS at a top city firm, I'd start focussing on TC apps.

    None of this stuff is worth sacrificing marks on your degree modules.

    good luck
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    (Original post by peachmelba)
    If your story is already good enough to get a Winter VS at a top city firm, I'd start focussing on TC apps.
    Thanks very much, all of that was extremely useful! I take your point about the utility of being able to discuss different sizes/types of firm if I do multiple VS with different firms, though I hadn't considered the idea that if I got a VS from a decent firm then I'm probably reasonably well-placed to at least begin applying for a few TCs...it just seems so much more daunting than applying for a VS!

    I'll get cracking on the apps in the coming weeks. Definitely not worth sacrificing degree module marks, which is partly why I'm keen to sort this early. My exams are around May and I don't want a load of interview to prepare for alongside my finals...!

    (Original post by hmaus)
    What is your other legal work experience by the way?

    Have you had any job over a long period of time or just short placements?

    Good luck!
    Thanks, hmaus. I've only done a short placement, and it was with the Armed Forces Prosecution Service Authority. I thought it would be something reasonably unique, and it allowed me to work on some fascinating cases worthy of discussion in interview. That, and it also just exposed me to the culture of an office in which lawyers are working side by side on a variety of different cases. It was a precursor, in a sense, to the VS I'll be taking next month.

    I also have a variety of non-law work experience too, though. A fair amount of voluntary, some campaign work and also an internship in the Houses of Parliament.

    As you say, I think if I had a specific interest then a second VS may be a good idea, but as I stand, I think I'll set about applying for TCs...
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    I think concentrate on the training contract applications. However, if you finish these in time, by all means apply for more vacation schemes.

    I did five vacation schemes in total (Jones Day, Stephenson Harwood, Davies Arnold Cooper, Withers, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal) and got offered two more (DWF Solicitors and Dawsons), and doing so many didn't prevent me from getting a variety of offers from firms that were ranked above those mentioned here. I didn't always disclose all of them - I tended to select the ones that were more attuned with the firm I was applying to and thus tailored my CV to make my legal experience especially relevant.
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    General legal experience =/= a Vacation Scheme. Work in a commercial-type firm and on a properly organised VS is very different to sitting in a local solicitors making tea. Though I don't think there is much benefit to doing more than 2 VS.

    Obviously you need to concentrate on TC apps. Be aware that if you end up with a late summer placement many TC application deadlines may come before the end of that VS.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    General legal experience =/= a Vacation Scheme. Work in a commercial-type firm and on a properly organised VS is very different to sitting in a local solicitors making tea. Though I don't think there is much benefit to doing more than 2 VS.

    Obviously you need to concentrate on TC apps. Be aware that if you end up with a late summer placement many TC application deadlines may come before the end of that VS.
    I would have thought so too, but when I spoke to the HR Manager at Slaughters, I was asked whether I really do need a VS, given that I already have a mini pupillage, 2 work experience placements, in addition to previous volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau. I told her that I thought experience in the City would be very different to my experiences thus far, hence my wish to complete it, but it did leave me slightly confused, to say the least! :confused:
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    I would have thought so too, but when I spoke to the HR Manager at Slaughters, I was asked whether I really do need a VS, given that I already have a mini pupillage, 2 work experience placements, in addition to previous volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau. I told her that I thought experience in the City would be very different to my experiences thus far, hence my wish to complete it, but it did leave me slightly confused, to say the least!
    But Slaughters are (sensibly in my view) less fetishistic about formal VS than most other City firms.

    Chalks post is instructive on the real benefits of VS:

    Vac scheme student: you run around looking eager, earnest and (hopefully) frightfully grown-up. The reality is that you don't have the faintest idea what your supervisor is doing. Instead, you hold out for the post-work free drinks (Pimms, of course) in Exchange Square and the chance to chat up that lovely fellow placement student from Manchester Uni. Whilst you're seriously impressed by the big offices and busy people, you're a little worried by the sheer volume of work going on and the fact that all the trainees look like they haven't slept for 48 hours. Work largely consists of meaningless research projects.

    Trainee: you run around looking eager and quite grown-up. The earnestness has been replaced by a quiet desperation to impress as you now realise that the real hard work has started and that there is still a risk that the post GFC axe might fall. You still don't know what your supervisor does but that doesn't stop you sagely telling your housemates about your involvement with deals with three letter acronymns - IPOs, MBOs etc. Most evenings you now hope you'll be able to escape in time for last orders at the local boozer when you neck a pint of London Pride. You're far less impressed by the big offices and wonder why you didn't go for investment banking where your friends seem to earn 5 times as much money for the same ridiculous hours. Work largely consists of photocopying, proofreading, due diligence, rather difficult research projects and verification exercises.

    Associate: you run around looking tired and older than your years. Your quiet desperation has been replaced by an overwhelming desire to quit the ratrace, as you realise that 60 to 70 hours a week isn't worth whatever they'll pay you. You now realise that your supervisor doesn't actually do any work - that all gets passed to you but he takes the credit. Your evenings consist of working your way through a good Barossa shiraz when you get a home and a couple of ciggies in the garden. You're hugely unimpressed by the big offices and you find yourself dreaming of being a high street solicitor somewhere fun like Brighton. Work largely consists of absolutely everything that the client wants you to do, plus a mountain of business development tasks that the partners tell you are essential if you want to make partner yourself.
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    (Original post by eve_22)
    I would have thought so too, but when I spoke to the HR Manager at Slaughters, I was asked whether I really do need a VS, given that I already have a mini pupillage, 2 work experience placements, in addition to previous volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau. I told her that I thought experience in the City would be very different to my experiences thus far, hence my wish to complete it, but it did leave me slightly confused, to say the least! :confused:
    I think that questions like that get asked to see how you deal with them and to see you justify your choices, as these are important skills for lawyers. I doubt that the HR Manager was actually interested in the answer, though the question does provide a good opportunity for you to explain why you want the scheme.
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    I think that questions like that get asked to see how you deal with them and to see you justify your choices, as these are important skills for lawyers. I doubt that the HR Manager was actually interested in the answer, though the question does provide a good opportunity for you to explain why you want the scheme.
    I suspected that this was the case, so I tried to give her a clear and convincing answer as to why I wanted to complete the scheme. On the back of it, I got a promise to consider my application for both Easter and Summer VS, which was definitely a nice touch

    I try to mostly treat everything that HR or solicitors ask with caution - you never know when and how you are being assessed!
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    Our careers centre usually uses examples in which applicants list five Top 20 city vacation schemes. In that sense, I don't think you can have too many ...albeit I don't believe that is your problem. The question is whether you actually NEED this huge number of work placements to get a TC. Considering that some firms train people without any background, you should rather put your effort into TC applications. Others might state the opposite. So as usual, the right answer depends on the firm. You really have to analyse each firm separately!!!

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Updated: November 22, 2010
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