Very much so. This was my first opportunity to actually live and breathe life as a lawyer. One can read as much about what life at a large law firm such as CMS is like, but nothing comes close to actually experiencing it first-hand.
I have gained an insight into the workings of the capital markets department whilst also being fortunate enough to do some work for other departments. Further to this, I have been introduced to various other practice areas at the firm through presentations and had access to a wide cross-section of employees through networking events.
I was fortunate to have a very helpful and welcoming trainee 'buddy', who introduced me to various other employees and was always at hand if I had any questions.
Various other members of my department took the time to take me to a 'quiet room' for a private chat on how I have been finding my time at the firm and to talk me through their experiences.
As mentioned above, my buddy was always available for me to drop a message to (whether that be by 'Lync' or email).
Whenever I was given a task - even 'menial' - the employee always took the time to explain the underlying concept(s) of the task, helping me understand what I was actually working on. Everyone I did work for was extremely receptive to questions and helping me understand what was required of me.
One skill I have gained is the ability to manage my time better, and to manage expectations. When working to a tight deadline on task x, I learned of the importance of being able to tell another employee offering me task y that I was not currently able to take on the work for the time being. This is a skill I will take forward for many years to come.
The graduate recruitment team - in particular Danny Cash - do a fantastic job of balancing all the different experiences vacation schemers demand. The CMS guide we were given on the first day of our vacation scheme proved exceptionally useful throughout the scheme - providing clarity and structure to the VS that many of my friends at competing vacation schemes can only envy.
During a mere two-weeks I have learned what a derivative is, learned how to make a Polynesian cocktail, had dinner on the 17th floor of a fancy restaurant, and been captivated by the raw passion of the Executive Partner of CMS. I cannot ask for much more than that.
Notwithstanding variations in levels of workload, the other vacation schemers have all been a delight to meet and socialise with. The non-hierarchical, open-plan offices foster a culture of equality and co-operation that other firms can only strive to achieve.
It is difficult to judge the level of investment made into vac scheme students who may only be at the firm for two-weeks, but the sheer number of presentations, events and tasks given attest to a relatively substantial investment. The time taken by those around me to explain the work being given to me was extremely beneficial.
The opportunity to gain a first-hand insight into the culture of the firm, whilst 'working' alongside current employees, was one that was crucial to convincing me not only that law was the career for me, but that CMS was the firm at which I would like to have this career.
There can be no substitute for experiencing the real-life culture of a firm - an oft-discussed concept - than experiencing it for myself. Seeing how other employees talk to me, answer my questions, and generally act around me spoke volumes. The presence of Duncan Weston at a social event one evening showed how down to earth even those at the very top of the firm are.
Taking part in 'real' work to a specification, where I have to both conduct my own research and communicate with others is a unique experience. Doubly so when one considers that this took place within such a large firm.
For any career, the people around you are crucial. The people at CMS are without doubt its biggest asset.
The pay for the vacation scheme has recently been increased and is at a very competitive level, in line with all Magic Circle firms.
Yes, dependent on how pro-active one generally was. The graduate recruitment team did a great job of organising networking events in a relaxed atmosphere where everyone felt about to ask questions that they might have been reluctant to ask otherwise.
Yes. Through a diversity & inclusion talk and CSR talk I learned of the vast array of opportunities for employees at the firm to get involved with activities outside of their work.
Without doubt. It is an incredibly well-run scheme that has taught me a massive amount about the firm, the law, and myself in general.