I was offered my traineeship at the beginning of March last year and was due to start at the beginning of this September. When I finished the Diploma this year I had detailed plans about how I was going to spend the summer preparing. However, the firm called me asking if I could start my traineeship in July instead. My plans to re-read every corporate textbook, read the Secret Barrister and leisurely search for my ideal flat in Glasgow were abandoned and instead replaced with FaceTime viewing any flat listed on spareroom.com after work each day and manically throwing things in boxes.
Seeing more entrance certificates popping up on Facebook last night, I started thinking about what, on reflection, on my list actually would have been useful preparation.
Re-reading university materials for your first seat
It turns out that when your first seat is in the corporate team and you haven’t even thought about shares for three years, let alone the rule in Foss v Harbottle, reacquainting yourself with corporate law would have been useful.
If you know what your first seat is going to be and you get the chance to open a book over the summer – do! Even looking over my hastily scribbled second year notes would have helped.
People complain about time recording for a reason. I found it strange having to take note of what I did every six minutes. Changing between tasks is easy enough but keeping track when you are interrupted is harder. It might seem strange to practise it, but it will be one fewer strange process to get used to when you start.
Get some rest
When I got the call asking if I could join sooner, I was abroad and when I returned it was less than two weeks until I started. I moved into my new flat on the Sunday night and started my traineeship the next day. As excited as I was, I was already burnt out before I’d done any work! Whatever your plans are for the summer, make sure it includes some down time.
Meet up with the other trainees
When I undertook the internship with Gilson Gray last year I was joined by another applicant. He suggested that we met up for a cup of coffee before we started and it was a great idea. Walking in on the first Monday, it was comforting to see a familiar face.
If you can, try and meet up with the other trainees who are due to start with you. Whether it’s coffee or drinks, knowing someone else, someone who probably has the same anxieties as you, will be a comfort. You will also be going through the same journey together for the next two years, so the sooner you can start to build that essential support network, the better.
Most importantly though, the best preparation I could have done was to accept that I was never going to be 100% prepared. I would have been far less stressed. Yes, being more familiar with directors’ duties would have been helpful, but many questions that I have been asked I could never have predicted, or have known the answers to. In the past four weeks, sometimes my answer has been wrong or I have simply admitted that I don’t know. It’s OK to get things wrong or not to know something! The Diploma prepares you for life as a trainee as best that it can but no one expects perfection. That’s why we’re trainees. Do the preparation that you can but look after yourself too. If you can handle being told you’re wrong, work hard and be friendly, then you’ll get off to a good start.
The information and opinions contained in this blog are for information only. They are not intended to constitute advice and should not be relied upon or considered as a replacement for advice. Before acting on any of the information contained in this blog, please seek specific advice from Gilson Gray.