I thoroughly enjoyed the A&O First Summer Scheme. It was engaging and informative despite taking place online. The chat bar was vital in achieving this as it enabled everyones questions to be asked. There was a good varied range of activities from the Jargon Buster Challenge which was very interactive to the talk on Advanced Delivery which was more explanatory. I was pleased by the mixture between trainees and partners that we interacted with, all of whom were welcoming.
The icebreaker breaker challenge at the beginning of the experience made it evident that the firm wanted us to feel comfortable and confident during our time on the scheme. Everyone was free to ask questions and the questions were valued. If we had a question that was not answered due to time pressure we could send to be answered by the speaker after the particular session. Being sent the cocktail-making kit made it clear that the recruitment team valued our enjoyment.
Being a short, virtual experience there was little support and guidance necessary. Before the scheme we were sent a timetable of events making it clear what we would have to do throughout each day which was helpful. We were also sent a document guiding us on how to join an A&O Webex. This was clear and informative. Throughout the experience we were made to feel comfortable enough to ask for any guidance/support had it been necessary.
Not only were my communication and time-mangement skills developed on the virtual experience but I was also introduced to a wide range of interesting legal information. I particularly valued the talk introducing Intellectual Property rights. I knew little on the topic before and he made the information very accessible and engaging. This information is useful to me as I am considering doing this topic as a module in my third year of university.
The virtual experience was well structured. There was a varied range of activities from the Kahoot challenge to discussions to Q&A's. This kept the experience engaging. The breaks were short and frequent which was good and mean't that concentration could be kept during the sessions. On the first evening there was a social. This was the best time for this as it mean't that we could get to know our cohort early in the scheme.
The atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. The icebreaker was a good way for the tone of the virtual experience to be set and put everyone more at ease. People were encouraged to participate and ask questions which mean't that the experience consisted more of discussions rather than solely presentations. The atmosphere was not overly casual or informal which was helpful to allow us to make the most of the information that was being offered to us as it forced full engagement in the sessions.
On the virtual experience we talked to a range of characters in the firm: future trainee, trainee, associate and partners. This mean't that we could get an insight into all levels of the firm. We were also able to look at lots of different sectors of the firm including their pro-bono initiatives. This mean't that we were able to get a sense of things that were important to the firm as well as what they do day to day.
I felt that I understood the company culture well having participated in the virtual event. In particular the talk on Diversity in the workplace helped with this. It was clear that Allen & Overy do not discriminate with regard to either race or gender. The trainee's also gave a sense of how friendly and welcoming the culture of the firm is while still seeking excellence and operating to high standards of work in every sector.
There was a networking challenge that was beneficial as we gained connections and were able to work on our communication skills. Furthermore, on the first night of the virtual experience we had a cocktail making social. This was fun and interactive. It was more difficult having to be virtual as we had to mute ourselves to decrease background noise while instructions were being given. Despite this it was still a fun activity to do with the cohort.
Yes, I would recommend this virtual experience to either a friend who is interested in Allen & Overy as a firm or the legal sector. It was enjoyable, informative and motivating. I learn't lots about the firm as well as being introduced to different areas of law and looking at them from perspectives that I hadn't considered before. I met lot's of people in my cohort who are in the same position as me and whom I am still in contact with.
3rd October 2020