I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation scheme despite the fact that I knew I was being assessed. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming and I was made to feel comfortable straight away. It definitely felt like the scheme was as much for me to decide if I liked the firm as it was vice versa.
The vacation scheme students were really well integrated into the firm. A lot of time was put into ensuring we learned as much as possible and got as much from the scheme as we could. The trainees all made us feel really welcome, sitting with us at lunch and taking part in the after-work social events. There was an afternoon tea session held for us which was attended by everyone up to partner level.
Each vacation scheme student had a supervisor and a trainee 'buddy' assigned to them for each week. In my experience, both supervisors were really welcoming and willing to provide as much guidance as possible. The trainee buddies were great for the more basic questions that you might not have necessarily wanted to bother your supervisor with. They were also really friendly and happy to tell you anything about the firm.
The vacation scheme was really useful for understanding the different practice areas that RPC specialise in and how they differ from one another. Following the scheme, I feel I am a big step closer towards knowing which seats I want to choose during my training contract. It also made me realise the type of firm environment I want to work in, as RPC are particularly friendly and collaborative.
The two-week programme of events was very well structured and included a variety of experiences from a tour of the Lloyds building to speed networking and afternoon tea. There were also several after-work social events organised for us which were really useful for getting to know each other and the other trainees.
Despite the fact that the vacation scheme students were essentially competing with each other for training contracts, everyone was really friendly and I really enjoyed getting to know them all. This was facilitated by the warm and relaxed environment that RPC created. You definitely forgot that you were being assessed (until the final interview of course)!
There were lots of opportunities for self-reflection and development. There was a real sense that they wanted you to do well on the scheme. We were given feedback halfway through which helped with progressing our performance in the second week. We were also giving a full day of training to start us off and make sure we got the most out of the scheme.
In both departments I sat in, the associates and partners made sure I was given a real insight into the type of work they are involved in. I was given a variety of tasks from taking attendance notes, to carrying out research, to assisting in witness familiarisation training, giving me a real sense of what it would be like as a trainee.
There were several networking events spread out across the scheme. Some were more structured and to do with the legal work. Others were less formal and allowed us to get to know as many different people from the firm as possible. There were also several after-work social events such as drinks and pizza making.
Even during the two weeks, there were several after-work sport and social events and the vacation scheme students were welcomed to join. There was also a session all about the diversity and inclusion programmes that RPC are involved with which was really interesting. The trainees also told us about the different social aspects of working with the firm.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the vacation scheme to anyone interested in a commercial legal career. Although the recruitment process is tough, the firm definitely don't go out of their way to make you feel under pressure or uncomfortable. Even if I had not secured a training contract with the firm, the vacation scheme would still have been an invaluable experience.