No one is in any doubt that a traineeship is demanding and at times exhausting. But it is important to stop every so often to reflect on what you have achieved since arriving on day one. A good time to take stock is at the end of your first seat. Changing practice area every eight months can seem daunting. You’ve finally started to find your feet and just like that your back to day one… do not pass go… do not collect £200. In actual fact, it’s a unique opportunity. Having reached my first trainee seat rotation, I thought it might be worthwhile to share some thoughts on seat one and managing the change.
Nothing can prepare you for your first day. There is so much to try and comprehend in such a short space of time. Of course, like everyone else, you want to get stuck in straight away, but you also don’t know how to use the printer and can barely remember where the toilets are. The first month is all about adjustment. New job, new company, and often a new city. Because of all this, time will pass incredibly quickly. There is no way to pinpoint the exact moment that you find your feet, but it does come. Key to making this happen is by working with other trainees. We all learn different things in the first few months and it is good practice to share the survival tips you pick up between you. Leaning on each other is by far the best way to keep your head up.
The learning curve during months two and three is steep and relentless. You’ve realised how the firm works and where everything is, so you can get more involved in the day-to-day work. In the beginning you are given specific tasks and getting to grips with those alone can take time. It helps to always ask for the bigger picture. Exposing yourself to the wider transaction means that you can take more control over your work and your involvement. Sooner or later you are doing these tasks automatically and are taking on bigger and more challenging pieces of work. It’s hard to acknowledge progress – but in months five, six, and seven the biggest indicator is feeling like you are part of the team and not “the trainee”. By month eight it hits you pretty hard that you have to move on.
Day One -the sequel
The greatest apprehension about changing seats for the first time is that you instantly remember how terrifying day one was the first time around. Remind yourself that it’s never going to be quite like that again. Starting over in a new practice area really shows you how much you’ve learned. You don’t leave everything behind; you bring it with you. Having gone through the stages of grief and finally reaching acceptance, starting over with all the tools picked up from the last eight months actually seems quite exciting. Day one will still feel like tripping on the edge of a swimming pool near the deep end, but it is surprising how quickly you catch your balance.
Make the most of it
A traineeship in a large law firm is quite unique. Having three different jobs within two years may seem unusual. However, it is a huge opportunity to figure out what you enjoy whilst developing a diverse range of skills. My biggest piece of advice in negotiating the trainee rotation… throw yourself into the change but hold onto what you have already learned.