I really enjoyed the virtual internship. I felt like there was a good balance between informative content and interactive work. We were able to interact with people from all levels of the organisation which was very useful to get a good picture of what working at DLA Piper would be like as a trainee. The graduate recruitment team/ trainees/ partners were all extremely welcoming and helped make the experience less intimidating and more enjoyable as a whole.
I think DLA Piper really tried to make all participants feel welcome and valued by having all participants introduce themselves and by splitting into smaller office groups. This helped me be able to put more of my personality across which would have otherwise been quite difficult in a general zoom call and helped me feel more valuable. However, because we were not doing actual work for DLA Piper (for obvious reasons), it was hard to feel like you were completely valuable and useful for the business.
I felt like the graduate recruitment team were extremely supportive and approachable. If I had a question, I would feel very comfortable to contact the team either by email or phone. The group pitch initially sounded very intimidating and difficult but so much support was organised for us with countless trainee drop-in sessions. These were extremely useful to talk through our ideas and gain any hints from people who have been through this experience themselves.
I feel I developed several skills through the virtual internship. This included being able to read and process a large amount of information within the group exercise, being able to communicate clearly with others (which was especially tested online), advocacy skills in the group pitch and teamwork. My confidence also improved throughout the week as I got more comfortable. These skills will be especially useful in any career in law which I may have in the future and within finishing my law degree.
The virtual internship was extremely well structured. We were sent a physical copy of the week's timetable in advance which was useful to know what to expect. The daily emails outlining the detailed timetable for the day and any zoom details was also extremely useful so you felt really prepared and informed of what was happening. The welcome talk with the graduate recruitment team each morning also helped with this. Any changes in time were also clearly communicated with us.
The general atmosphere during the virtual internship was a good balance between professional and welcoming. Initially, the atmosphere seemed a bit tense just because we were all nervous and apprehensive for how the week would work but this quickly changed with help from the graduate recruitment team and other participants who were extremely friendly and encouraged everyone to get involved. Though I appreciate that there was a lot to fit into the week, it would have been nice if there were a few more ice-breaker/ chilled activities like the quiz which would have allowed us to get to know more participants on the programme.
I feel like the graduate recruitment team invested a lot into personal development of participants with a range of tasks set to challenge us and show off our skills such as the group pitch presentation and other group exercises. It was difficult to add much more to personal development of participants because of time constraints (being only one week rather than three weeks) and because it was virtual. However, given the circumstances, personal development was quite good.
The firm made sure that we got so much information about DLA Piper including: their vision for the future, an overview of their structure and management, details about sectors and practice areas, pro-bono and responsible business and employee networks. It was also really good that they were very transparent about how Covid-19 has affected their business. The trainee Q&A session was extremely useful to understand what working within the firm would actually be like. Everyone was more than happy to answer any questions that we had.
The values of DLA Piper was really emphasised throughout the programme which was very helpful to really show that they are more than just something that is said and is actually acted upon within the firm. This was really reassuring. It was very nice to see that whoever we had a talk from despite their position and seniority in the company, they were all very welcoming, down to earth and friendly. This helped consolidate what I already thought about DLA Piper's culture.
The group presentation and group exercise work were useful to understand more about the types of work that commercial lawyers do which helped consolidate that the career path is the one for me. It was also really nice to be able to hear about several senior partners' journey to where they are today and the path that they have taken throughout their legal career. This was both inspiring and help to see the opportunity for progression in the firm.
We were paid for the week's experience even though we did not do any actual work which would value the firm. We were also given two lots of twenty five pound 'Just Eat' vouchers throughout the week which was a really nice surprise and very well received. In addition, because it was originally meant to be a three week programme which was reduced to a week, the firm was able to reimburse any hotel expenses already booked.
There were lots of opportunities to meet different people from the firm within different sessions from senior partners, trainees and ex-interns which was useful to gain different perspectives. It was difficult to really be able to network and ask questions because it was online and because so many people wanted to ask questions. Sometimes it felt like the same people were able to ask questions everytime though obviously this is very hard to control and the graduate recruitment team did the best they could with the situation.
The quiz on the first night was very good with breaking the ice and being able to get to know people from different offices as well as getting to know current trainees better. It would have been nice if there was other events like this throughout the week as I felt like I got to know a a very select group of people within the group project but not any others. This would have been great but I understand the restrictions because it was only a week long.
It was really nice to hear about the different employee networks that employees can get involved with such as Iris, Mosaique, PACT and LAW. It was really nice to both know that the firm is involved in making the world better and that employees can really make a positive difference. It was also great to hear about all the great pro-bono opportunities that employees can get involved with outside of their usual work which was very inspiring.
I would definitely recommend the virtual internship to a friend because it was fun, informative and challenging. It was very well structured, well planned and having a trainee buddy really helped to navigate the programme, make it less intimidating and feel supported. I was able to develop lots of skills, become more informed in what working at DLA Piper would be like and gain a greater insight in the culture of the firm. Overall, the experience was extremely valuable.