Making the step from vacation placement student to future trainee

There is plenty of advice out there about how to secure a vacation placement.  Indeed our Gap Year students recently wrote an excellent blog post about preparing for interviews; but what about when you actually secure that elusive placement, how can you try to ensure that you maximise your chances of converting the placement into a training contract offer?Lawyer2B sought to address this question in a recent article but a lot of the advice offered while helpful, was somewhat generic eg turn up on time; show an interest in the work you are given; always have a pen and paper with you –  however, I would endorse the suggestion to bring in cakes and baked treats (for the graduate team)!At Pinsent Masons we make clear our expectations of our placement students at their induction; we also aim to provide them with the skills they will need to succeed in a modern workplace but which they may not yet have developed through their academic studies eg how to take instruction on a new task.  Hopefully a number of you will benefit from our induction first-hand later this year but for those of you who are unable to participate in our placement programme I wanted to share some hints and tips with you (click the link for the slides).As the slides indicate we feel that all students benefit from setting themselves some SMART objectives at the start of their placement.  This helps add a structure to your placement and by (hopefully) meeting these objectives you are demonstrating important qualities such as: being self-directed, multi-tasking and meeting deadlines.  Examples of SMART objectives might include: attending a client meeting and taking the minutes; undertaking some drafting, receiving feedback and producing an amended copy; performing market research on an industry sector or prospective client.  Try not to be too ambitious and set yourself goals it would be unrealistic to achieve within the parameters of a short placement, or that are unrelated to you demonstrating your suitability to become a trainee solicitor at the firm.It is also important to plan for success.  This means recognising that by the end of the summer you could be in the enviable position of holding more than one training contract offer!  You want to have thought in advance about how you plan to choose between different firms as some of the information you might need to make an informed choice will only be accessible to you during your time at the firm.  I also encourage our candidates to write down what are the ‘non-negotiables’ they will need in order to gain satisfaction from their work.  The choices will vary between candidates but might include: career progression, fun, money, variety, work-life balance – but don’t be greedy you can’t have it all!  Once you have worked out what is on your list you can then measure each firm against your own selection criteria. Good Luck!The Graduate Team