Why you don’t need to get a Training Contract this year…or next year

There is a ton of pressure on you right now. I see it when we talk at networking events. I read it between the pixels when you message me. It’s always just humming away in the background. And we need to talk about it because it’s not ok.

I’m just going to come out and say it: you do not need to get a Training Contract this year. You will not have let anyone down if, by 2019, you are still not a Trainee. No one will think less of you. Nothing bad will happen. You will still go on to be successful.

You are going to have to start cutting yourself some slack.

I don’t know why, but there is an insane amount of pressure on people to get their lives to line up perfectly. First your degree, then a vacation scheme in your final year and then a Training Contract which starts a few months after you graduate. Just enough time to fit in a trip to Thailand. That’s the plan, right? Right. And what happens if the plan doesn’t actualise? Failure.

training contract smug vacation scheme after applications
The goal of every future-solicitor: to be sat smugly on this beach

Well that’s rubbish. And the first step in cutting yourself some slack is recognising that this is how you think. There’s no shame in it, I used to think like this too. But then I realised that there was no rush. What does it matter if I don’t get a Training Contract this year? I’ll get one next year. And if not? I’ll get one the year after that. Or maybe the year after that. When you think like this the pressure lifts. You don’t have to go by anyone else’s timetable. There are no deadlines.

To get a Training Contract you’ve got to have a lot of pieces in place. Your applications have to be good, you have to interview well, have interesting extra curriculars, solid grades, work experience…and the list goes on. But as the phrase goes; you can have it all, just not all at the same time. It’s really important to decide what your priorities are and use your time accordingly. This will stop you running around in a panic trying to do everything at once, and wondering why you’re not managing. 

I decided that nothing on this earth was as important to me as getting a first in my degree, so I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any studying time. I also really enjoyed the extra curriculars I was involved in, and didn’t want to stop doing those either. As a result,  I only applied for two vacation schemes in my final year. I was fortunate in that I got one, but it would have been ok if I hadn’t. I knew I was probably going to have a year, or a couple of years, between me and a Training Contract.  It was all part of the plan.

making applications application frustration training contract vacation scheme
Me ‘delegating’ applications to another year. 

And it was great having a year out. For a few months I went back to working as a Care Assistant, which I didn’t really like- but it gave me the skills to care for my Grandma when she became ill. And then I worked in the fraud department of a bank, so I now have mad Sherlock-meets-Poirot investigative skills. And I also volunteered at the Witness Support Service,  and got to meet some of the bravest and most inspirational women around. And, added bonus, I could spend an extra year living down the road from my lovely boyfriend. If I could go back and do it all again, that is exactly how I’d do it.

If you come up with a plan, or at least a list of priorities, it means you can focus on one or two things at a time and achieve the best possible results. Plus, you’ll be much happier as you’ll be respecting your limitations as a human being with a finite amount of time in each day.

So I’m not saying you should completely forgo making applications. But I’m also not saying you should be spending all your time making them. You need to decide what your priorities are. Instead of trying to cram everything into this year- extra curriculars, work experience, volunteering, degree, applications- delegate some of it to next year.

And decide that this is a year you are going to fill with valuable and enjoyable experiences that will help you to grow as a person. And if you don’t get a Training Contract, then so what? There’s always next year…and the year after….and the year after that…and the next year….


Need another pep-talk? Well, I’ve got you covered. Here’s one on rejection, and one for your interviews.

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