I thoroughly enjoyed the CMS Academy. Having students from all offices spend the first week in London was a great idea, as it ended up being a really social experience. All talks were highly engaging and useful - you never felt like you were just being shown standard graduate recruitment presentations.
As a student on the CMS Academy programme I felt valued as a potential future member of the firm. I got the impression that our ideas were truly being listened to and valued. This was demonstrated when we were able to present our team ideas to Ross Morel from Frogslayer following one of the week one activities. I perhaps felt slightly less valued in Sheffield on the last two weeks of the scheme.
I felt sufficiently supported throughout the scheme. There were always plenty of faculty members that made themselves known as people we could talk to if we had any concerns or questions. I think slightly more support could have been provided on my second and third weeks in Sheffield, as my Associate Supervisor was away for a week and my Trainee Buddy was shared with another vacation scheme student.
The skills I gained from the Academy will be immensely valuable to me in the future. I think the structure of the Academy enables everybody to be pushed outside of their comfort zone, with the result being that upon completion of the scheme your confidence is really improved. The social skills acquired are transferable to all walks of life.
As mentioned previously, I believe that structuring the scheme so that all participants spent the first week in London was really beneficial. The first week was very well structured. I would say that the internship section of the Academy could perhaps benefit from slightly more structure however, as I occasionally felt at a bit of a loose end.
The general atmosphere was great on the Academy. Everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic. The atmosphere was not overly formal or intimidating. You did not feel as though you were being constantly assessed. The Sheffield office had a very welcoming atmosphere which made it very easy to settle in and get to know people.
The firm heavily invested in Academy participants. The quality of activities delivered in week one was impressive , with each activity delivering different aspects of training and development. It felt like no corners were cut and no expenses spared with regards to the training delivered throughout the Academy. The training was highly enriching.
I would say that the first week was not overly relevant to understanding daily life as a full time member of the firm. The second two weeks gave me a great understanding of the overall feel of the office however I don't think I came away with a true understanding of what it would be like to have a full time role since you were not able to do much work independently as it was only a two week internship.
I would say I came away from the Academy with a really good insight into the Firm's culture.
I think the Academy was great in helping participants to decide wether a career as a future commercial lawyer was for them, as there was such a focus on business and innovation. One way in which even greater insight could be achieved perhaps would be allowing participants on the internship section of the Academy to spend time in more than one department.
There were constant networking opportunities throughout the CMS Academy. Participants were constantly mingling with faculty members and members of the firm. I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to network with members from all the different offices, meeting regional partners and associates. Every day brought the opportunity to meet someone new.
There were great social opportunities throughout the Academy. The corporate social responsibility dinner with Alzheimers UK was a really fantastic evening. The social evening in Sheffield was also great however it was a shame that all the trainees could not attend. There was a few too many participants to trainees. Since Sheffield is a smaller office with a smaller number of trainees I think it is important that they are all involved in the social opportunities.
I discovered that there is a netball team to get involved with, along with socials. I was able to attend an external networking event with my team which demonstrated further opportunity for members of the firm. I also helped to organise a social for CMS Connect, which ran networking events for young professionals in Sheffield.
I would definitely recommend the CMS Academy to a friend.