A Beginner’s Guide to Gap Year Success

As the new Gap Year intake in Pinsent Masons’ London head office, we four interns would like to deliver some advice on some of the things we wish we had known when starting out.  Hopefully then, when you are two and a half months into your internship (this may seem far away at the moment, but trust us, it’s not!), you will feel even more equipped to give advice to the next Gap Year cohort.

 

First Impressions

First impressions are crucial.  When starting work for the first time, the reality is that around 60% of your work colleagues upon introduction will immediately forget your name, and the remaining 40% will remember a name but it won’t be yours.  What they are more likely to remember is what you wore, if you smiled, if you expressed enthusiasm, what your handshake felt like.  So it is essential that you get it right as your future work load and your working relationships will be built on these foundations.  Making that little bit of effort will really pay off in the end!  It is also worth remembering that on your first day you may have your photo taken for the online employee directory, which can be seen by everyone during your time at the firm, so you want it to be a good hair day!

 

Other Important Skills

Pinsent Masons has taught me that punctuality is key.  Of course, you should all be aware by now that turning up to your interview on time is your first step to a successful interview, however punctuality goes far beyond merely being on time. 

Organisation.  If you struggle to not only organise yourself but organise your tasks, this is a characteristic you must work on.  Organising your time is a helpful way to ensure you can present your work on or even before your deadline.  Deadlines are often crucial so it is imperative to ensure that you are punctual with your work.

Enthusiasm.  Not only will this look good but you will enjoy the task a lot more! Although it is not always required, your work load may demand that you stay beyond your contacted hours. You should show your willingness to do so!  This too is a good way to show you are prepared to put in the work needed to meet deadlines.

Go above and beyond expectations.  Do your best to complete tasks before the set deadline and ask for more work when you find yourself with capacity.  However, do not promote punctuality at the expense of work quality.  Always complete tasks to the best of your ability.  As mentioned above, it is all about time management!

 

Building Relationships and Asking For Work 

It’s important to remember that you’re part of a team; the more people you’ve made the effort to have a chat with over a morning cuppa, or say hello to in the elevator, the easier it’ll be.  I personally find Krispy Kremes are a good way to raise your profile!

Shameless bribery aside, a very important phrase sticks out from our initial induction – “You have to network to get work!”  Just as the firm’s Partners are out wining and dining clients, a cup of tea and doughnut may just be your ticket to an exciting new project.  That’s not to say that you’ll go from document proofing to attending tribunals, overnight.  People will naturally be unsure of your abilities, and it’s up to you to reassure them.  Take all tasks seriously and complete them to the best of your ability.  As their trust in you grows, so will the amount of responsibility you’re given.  Be patient, and be persistent.

 

Attention to detail

When I started out working at Pinsent Masons in September, I was haunted by the idea that I would just end up sitting at my desk checking emails.  I was worried that I would not have any real work to do, and indeed it is hard to prove your worth when all you are doing is giving off the “I’m so busy I’m checking my emails every 5 seconds” vibe.  I immediately zoomed off to several members of my team, demanding work, and as recompense for my efforts, I ended up with a number of substantive tasks.  Want my opinion?  Avoid doing just that.  While it is good to have lots and lots of work to do and be very busy, I wish I could have had someone to tell me to slow down, pace myself and eat a cookie.  In your first week or so, start out with one task, maybe two, and get them right.  Make sure you ask questions about how to access files, where to look for information and how and when the work should be presented back.  Pay attention to detail.  If you carry out these tasks successfully, and, more importantly, enthusiastically, your team will see that you are motivated to learn the skills of the trade, and will trust you to do these tasks efficiently and accurately in future.  The scope of work will only get more interesting and involve increasingly more important assignments, so I can assure you that if you work hard and communicate well, you’ll get there, eventually!

 

We hope you have found this information useful, thank you for reading and best of luck with your application to Pinsent Masons!

Temi, Natasha, Hannah and Kalm