When starting your traineeship you can be given so much advice, it's hard to know who knows best and what to follow. Reflecting on those pearls of wisdom which proved most valuable to me, I can share with you the following:
1. Don't worry about feeling like you don't know anything
What your firm or practice will want from you is your ability to learn well and your positive energy and determination. Everything you need to know they will teach you on the job.
2. Know when to ask a question
This one sounds like common sense but it's trickier than it seems in practice. Sometimes it is better to ask a quick question when you're unsure of something rather than to struggle for twenty minutes trying to find the answer on your own. However, at the same time be wary of asking stupid questions and know who to ask these to when they arise! It is all about finding the balance and you'll learn with time, but if in doubt it's always better to ask than suffer in silence.
3. The three month rule
This gem I guess applies to starting any new job, but the rule is that you need three months to get your bearings in your new work place before you settle and can start to contribute in a meaningful way. If you're struggling before then, wait until the three month mark and you'll find you should have settled and things will be easier. And if you're absolutely loving life before the three month rule is up, then long may it continue.
4. Find something you can do well and then offer to take on that responsibility for the team
This might not be the most glamorous or exciting task in the world, but if you can find something the team needs and complete that to a high standard almost independently, you immediately increase your usefulness to your team. Your usefulness then increases trust, which means your relationship with your team will only strengthen from there on out.
5. Be there for the other trainees - you are the main support network each other has to get you through your traineeship.
This piece of advice rings true. There is no one who will understand in those initial moments of starting your traineeship how exciting, overwhelming, and possibly even stressful, it can be at the exact time you experience those feelings, except of course the other trainees starting with you!
You will all have moments where you look stupid in front of the partners. You will all have times where you are given instructions and you don't have a clue what is going on. The trick is not to let a competitive edge separate you from the other trainees by denying that you have these moments and instead to share and bond over them and have a good laugh. By sharing those moments you will create trust and form genuine friendships, and you should never underestimate how much comfort sharing those moments can have once you break those barriers down.
6. Finally, enjoy it!
This last pearl comes from me first hand. You have worked really hard to secure your traineeship and get to where you are today, while you are at the start of yet another huge learning curve after university. Use every day to make the most of your new learning experience and glean everything you can from it. As a trainee close to approaching the halfway point, I can tell you now it will be sure to come in fast!
Good luck and best wishes to everyone starting their traineeship later this year!