Cassandra Grützner

1. How did you find out about the Undergraduate of the Year competition and what made you apply?

It was part of the newsletter received early in the autumn term. I've looked at the UGOTY competitions the years before, but never got to apply before. The requirements always seemed very specific -- so it was quite refreshing to see that the LGBT+ competition was open to all students from all degree backgrounds. That really made it feel real to me, like it was really trying to celebrate the achievements of LGBT youth, and not just as a fancy way to source more participants for vacation schemes or the like.

2. How did you find the selection process and assessment day?

It wasn't my first assessment day, but it was certainly the most intimidating one. Certainly the first time I ever got in touch with a company that had a team specifically for recruiting! My worries were completely unfounded though: Everybody was really nice and welcoming, and I honestly had an interesting discussion and a lot of fun during the interview based on my initial application.

3. What were the highlights of your work experience placement with Clifford Chance?

My supervisor! David was quite the opposite of what I ever imagined a lawyer to be like - and with that, probably triple as cool. Very passionate about the substance of his pro-bono work with a very inspiring career path and very up-to-date and knowledgeable on a broad range of global, political and socioeconomic issues. Really enjoyed our conversations and there was certainly a lot of food for thought there for me. Very cool guy!

4. What did you find most surprising about the culture and workplace at Clifford Chance?

How open people were even about the most negative aspects of the job. It really felt like people were trying to give me a proper insight into the profession, and not just try to sell me onto something. I certainly appreciate that. ...also, the swimming pool on like the 5th floor, sandwiched between floors of offices and work spaces. Crazy.

5. What was the most useful thing you learnt on the placement?

Why people consider a philosophy background useful for law. It had always surprised me why philosophy graduates were doing so well on law courses, and the usual answer I was given was that there were a lot of 'transferable skills' between those to fields. Turns out that those 'transferable skills' are a lot less abstract than I thought they were - there seems to be a lot less difference between the researching and writing of reports and the researching and writing of essay proposals than I thought there would be.

6. What advice would you give individuals considering applying next year?

Take your time writing your application. The application window is open for a couple of months, so you really have the time to think and polish your essay responses to properly represent what you think and feel. There is no reason to cram it all into the day of the deadline, and having the essay questions in the back of my mind for a few weeks certainly helped me solidify which aspects I wanted to highlight.