I thoroughly enjoyed the insight scheme- it was fantastic to hear from a range of people from the firm, including those who had completed the scheme in the years prior to us and had subsequently secured future grad careers at the firm. Also, the webinars and talks delivered were thoroughly engaging and covered a wide range of topics, from the work they complete to activities that would help progress our careers. A social event was also organised for us which was a fantastic opportunity to network with like-minded individuals. I feel I was able to really understand the firm and am excited for my future prospects with them.
I feel Grad Recruit put in a lot of effort to ensure our time spent throughout the scheme was utilised well and valued. Similarly, Grad Recruit and others within webinars frequently left significant time to answer our questions and engage in thoughtful discussions, therefore I feel our time was valued greatly. It seemed they prioritised ensuring we all got value out of the scheme and that they wanted to support us as much as possible.
Grad Recruit were excellent in keeping us through informed before, during and after the scheme had concluded. I never felt that I was unable to ask questions and believe they were fantastic at providing us with the necessary guidance, especially considering there was so much uncertainty surrounding the delivery of the scheme due to Covid. Also, we were all assigned Mentors from the moment we gained a place on the insight; my mentor was fantastic at supporting me, both from a professional and pastoral perspective.
The scheme has provided me with an excellent insight into the different areas of commercial law, which has really expanded my interest into some practice areas I was unfamiliar with before partaking. Similarly, I developed skills that will be transferrable to my future career, particularly the softer skills that I will use throughout my future. Also, I learnt so much about the firm itself that I can use in future applications once I have graduated.
Before the scheme began, detailed itineraries were sent around and these included a variety of organised talks, interact webinars and more relaxed time (e.g. a coffee with our mentor). I found the structure really useful as it ensured our time was valued and that we received the most out of the scheme. Also, a social event was organised on one evening- this being scheduled into the structure was a fantastic time to meet my cohort.
Due to Covid-19, the scheme was transferred online meaning naturally, absorbing the atmosphere of the office was significantly hindered. Nevertheless, Grad Recruit worked extremely hard to ensure the scheme was as immersive as possible. I believe I was able to receive a great feel for the firm's atmosphere and culture, with talks from a variety of people and varying seniorship across the firm. The insight was interactive throughout, allowing me to deeply gage the atmosphere of the firm.
In terms of future careers, the firm provided a lot of support with application and assessment day tips, allowing me to hopefully be more successful in the future. I was able to speak with those who had previously undertaken the scheme, which helped me understand what personal training and development they have undertaken. Having a mentor has also been great because I have been able to work alongside them to understand which areas I need to personally develop.
Being able to speak to a range of people in different stages of their career definitely enabled me to understand what it would be like to have a full time role. Also, being able to speak to those who are only a few years older than me meant I understood the stages they underwent to securing a full time role, which was really useful as it gave me a clear understanding of progression. I was able to understand both what kind of tasks I would be asked to do and what my day to day life would look like. Obviously the only downside is that I was not able to visit the office to see the work environment, but of course that is not the firm's fault at all (Covid restricting).
I have attended many talks previously delivered by the firm but I think this insight scheme has been the most valuable in consolidating my understanding of the company culture. Being assigned a mentor has definitely helped with this as they have been able to speak on their personal experiences, as well as touching upon the experiences of those around them. I really got to grips with the core values of the firm, as well as their day to day operations.
The scheme definitely consolidated to me that I would like to pursue a legal career at this firm, particularly through how they portrayed the culture of the firm so openly meaning I could see myself fitting in there well. Similarly, hearing talks on different areas of law helped spark my interest in niche legal practice areas that I had not previously considered. The firm were very open with their fast-track process to securing a graduate role at the firm, which helped settle the nerves of doing such. Having a mentor also allowed a pathway of open communication to provide support with future career endeavours.
I was not paid to complete the insight scheme itself, however I would have been reimbursed for travel expenses and the firm would have paid for our accommodation. Due to Covid, reimbursed expenses was not necessary because the scheme was transferred online, nevertheless they were very open and willing to reimburse any outgoing costs. Also, they paid for individual cocktail masterclass sets to be posted home to us all, which was very generous of them.
Throughout the insight scheme, we met and heard from a variety of employees from the firm, all of whom were at different levels of their career (from trainees to partners, even hearing from those working in international offices). I feel that all who we spoke to were very open and welcoming to us, seeming keen to continue networking with us after the scheme concluded. This open environment definitely helped me feel more comfortable and allowed me to understand the firm better and what it would be like to have a future career there.
Despite the scheme transferring to online, Grad Recruit were excellent at ensuring we could network successfully with others on our cohort. Before the scheme, we were put into groups and assigned networking tasks which was really great as it provided us with the opportunity to get to know each other. Similarly, they organised a cocktail masterclass event for the evening of the first day, which was fantastic as it allowed us to socialise in a less formal manner. It was great that we were able to meet like-minded individuals.
A&O were excellent at showcasing the extra-curricular opportunities available to their employees; for example, we heard a talk specifically on pro-bono projects and another delivered by a trainee about a enterprise he had individually embarked upon throughout his training contract. The firm should be commended on the range of activities they offer to their employees and it was great to hear about these and the support they offer to those wanting to pursue their own entrepreneurial endeavours.
I think this is a fantastic scheme for anyone wanting to pursue a career in commercial law. It gave me the opportunity to gain insights into areas of commercial law I was previously unfamiliar with, broadening my interest vastly through hearing from partners who have expertise in different areas. Also, it helped with tackling legal jargon and commercial awareness, which is really important to anyone wanting a legal career. This scheme was the perfect way to really understand the culture and work of A&O.