How To Use Your Summer Holidays To Improve Your Training Contract Chances

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How To Use Your Summer Holidays To Improve Your Training Contract Chances

I caught up with a couple of graduate recruiters to ask them a question we hear all the time from students as the summer holidays descend.

In your experience, what is the best way for a student to spend their summer holidays in order to strengthen their case for a training contract in the future?”


Here is what Paula McMullan, Graduate Recruitment Manager at Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP (London), had to say:

“The obvious answer is to gain relevant work experience, but with opportunities becoming rarer than hen’s teeth, you may need to think laterally. Find things to do that will give you useful life experience.

Volunteer work can be a useful way of adding to your transferable skills and will also give you something interesting to talk about on your application form. Or you could even start your own charitable initiative to build on your negotiation, strategic thinking and communication skills.

The buzz words for recruiters right now are “commercial awareness” and “business savvy” so spend time understanding what this means and how you will show that you have it.

Read the papers and investigate journals for a more in-depth analysis of what is happening is not just in business, but in areas of interest to the firms you are applying to.

Talk to business people about what is important and relevant to them. Ask them what you would need to do to convince them of your commercial awareness.

And finally, work on your professional presence – know how to walk into a room, greet people, show an interest and engage in meaningful conversation. Get feedback from others on the first impression that you give and how you come across. It doesn’t matter how good you may look on paper if you don’t shine on the day you meet a firm.”


Here’s what Samantha Hope, Graduate Recruitment Manager at Shoosmiths, had to say:

“Any experience where you can gain skills, which will later help you to demonstrate your potential to be a great lawyer, will be beneficial to you obtaining a Training Contract.

Business development and personal skills are just as important as academic, and these are the qualities you can work on just by doing things you enjoy.

Use the summer holidays to your advantage; by working out who you are, and what you want in life; go travelling, volunteer, work in a legal or non-legal capacity, or complete an additional study course.

Don’t rule out sun, sea and sand, but do it in a unique way by volunteering in another country, challenge your fears and do a bungee jump or go deep-sea diving, or simply work abroad.

Make sure you can always give reasons to describe your decision to complete a particular activity if challenged.

These types of activities will give you lots to talk about on your application form and at interview, and if you are passionate about the activities, this will shine through and secure you your dream job.

For graduate opportunities at Gide Loyrette Nouel LLP visit

For graduate opportunities at Shoosmiths visit

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Matt Oliver

Matt is a former FTSE 100 in-house lawyer, an experienced legal career coach and MD of Trainee Solicitor Surgery. He provides entry level law careers advice to students and graduates through his writing and mentoring. He also offers private one to one coaching to those struggling with training contract, vacation scheme or paralegal applications and interviews.Find out more about Matt's 1-2-1 Coaching >>>>