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Vacation scheme diaries - the night before

Vacation scheme diaries - the night before

Harriet Iles


It’s now the night before my virtual vacation scheme – a notion that has been entirely distant until this point. The reality has started to set in. I’m not sure how I expected to feel, but instead of felling apprehensive, I feel an excitement and almost impatience to finally engage with the life that I’ve been striving towards. Soon I will get to experience the inner workings of a law firm that I’ve researched for nearly a year while meeting people who have only ever existed as pictures on a screen. As this is my first (and hopefully last) vacation scheme – I have no idea how I’m going to deal with the many challenges and opportunities presenting themselves to me over the next few weeks. Nevertheless, I have confidence in knowing that I will approach each task organically with the same genuine inquisitiveness and enthusiasm and that I have for all new things.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are a few things that I’m doing the night before my vacation scheme to start on a good footing.

1.    Relax

I know that I’ve done all I can in terms of research and preparation. The healthiest thing that I can do now is give my mind and body the chance to rest and relax before Monday morning. Doing this is so important to avoid the burnout and ‘brain fog’ that come from overworking oneself – something I must hold my hands up to doing in the past. At this point, reading your notes over and over while desperately googling financial terms that you might still be unfamiliar with is not going to get you anywhere. Stressing yourself out unnecessarily is your biggest enemy when it’s this close to the start date. You need to take some time now to get back to you. Starting your vacation scheme in a calm and relaxed state of mind will immediately translate to your work and the conversations you have. A light walk to get some fresh air and a bubble bath are my best recommendations. 

2.    Prepare your space

There’s nothing worse than being in a rush the morning of an important event. Particularly for a vacation scheme, you really don’t want to wake up on your first day only to realise that you don’t have any clean shirts or plug sockets that reach your desk. Mitigate by preparing your space in advance. Select an outfit that will make you feel empowered while making a good first impression. Prepare your desk and ensure that everything you could ever desire is ready for you. Make sure that you have backup pens, a clean notepad, a charger for your computer and that all of these items fit nicely on the desk itself! In anticipation of video calls, turn on your computer camera to check that your background is professional. Your supervisor doesn’t want to see your dirty washing while giving you your first task. If you can, position your desk in front of a window so you can benefit from calming views and airflow while you work, as well as sufficient lighting for the virtual calls. 

3.    Check your tech

Has your law firm provided any equipment for your scheme? If it's the night before, you’ve probably already set this up, but if you haven’t, don’t leave this until the morning! Ensure that you’ve turned everything on to check that it’s working correctly. If you have log-in details, use these to become familiar with your new device and explore the websites and applications that you’ll be using throughout your time at the firm. If you’re using a printer, connect your computer and run a test (sometimes the process of syncing devices takes a while and wouldn’t be something you’d want to deal with later). Check your devices are charging properly, and of course, alert graduate recruitment immediately if you notice any problems! 

4.    Eat! 

At least for me, when I’m under pressure, it can become too easy to forget to have a proper meal – but having a few handfuls of cashew nuts or an iced coffee isn't going to cut it. Food is fuel. The importance of eating healthily and sufficiently in advance of your scheme (as well as throughout its entirety) cannot be emphasised enough. This will ensure that your brain can process all the new information and perform to the best of its ability. This is a marathon, not a sprint! Carbs are great for slow-release energy that can fuel you into the following day. 

5.    Sleep

Honestly, this can be the most difficult part of pre-vacation scheme preparation. Even if you feel confident in your preparation up to this point, it can seem impossible to shut your brain off. Aside from staying up late and losing sleep, another drawback of letting yourself get into a cycle of overthinking is the damage that it does to your psyche as you lose confidence. To avoid this, try to relax before falling asleep. If you find yourself thinking of your stressors, focus on your breath instead and say some positive affirmations. Feel how this exercise clears your mind. You can even get up and go for a short walk or do some meditation if you need to. Some of my best tips for having a great night’s sleep are: wash your sheets, so you have a clean and comfortable environment (no lying in your own crumbs!), read a book and stop as soon as your eyes get tired, have a sleepy tea (fennel, chamomile and marshmallow root is my favourite), and use essential oils on your pillow, such as lavender. Another thing that I like to do is listen to a guided meditation with my eyes closed. 

You are going to be amazing!

You’ve done all the hard work already. The firm has chosen you above everyone else because they see real potential. They want you to succeed as much as you want it for yourself! The vacation scheme is all about seeing how you’d fit into their culture and if you can use your skills in a professional environment. All you must do now is show them the real you and grasp every learning opportunity enthusiastically.

Good luck!