I found out about the awards through a TARGETjobs email. I had already been looking for opportunities to use my scientific problem-solving skills in new ways, so the competition really appealed to me. I read the list of criteria, had a look at the Clifford Chance website and thought it sounded like a great opportunity and that I might as well give it a go.

Although the selection process was rigorous, I really enjoyed it. The first part consisted of long answer questions about myself and a problem I’d like to solve through science; then came the Watson Glaser test. Having never heard of it before, some prior research was needed in order to understand the basics of the test. My efforts were rewarded however, when I was then invited to an interview day at the Clifford Chance offices in Canary Wharf where we received a very warm welcome.

The assessment day consisted of lunch and two interviews – one of which was competency based and the other focused more on our responses to the initial essay questions. All the Clifford Chance employees we met genuinely seemed to want us to succeed, giving the interviews and networking a relaxed feel. The interviewers did a fantastic job of putting us at ease whilst pushing us to answer increasingly challenging questions; overall, it felt more like a stimulating conversation than a formal test and there was plenty of time to ask the interviewers questions of our own. For most of us STEM students it was our first time in a law environment, so a great chance to learn more about the firm, the clients, and the applicability of a STEM degree to law. Naturally, a highlight of the day was getting to know the other interviewees – between us there was a broad collection of hobbies, skills, and career ambitions.

A few weeks later I found out I was through to the final and with the news came a mixture of excitement, pride, and genuine surprise that I had made it that far through the process. I’m the first in my family to go to university, so being chosen as one of the finalists for an award for undergraduates was surreal.

As for the awards ceremony itself, good food, drinks, and interesting company made it feel like a real celebration. The atmosphere was very friendly despite the grand surroundings and opulent touches to the event. I really enjoyed hearing about the other award winners’ achievements and could hardly believe it when my own name and face appeared on the main screen. Once I’d successfully navigated a sea of tables and made my way to the front of the room it was a blur of photographs and congratulations – it was great to talk to the other award winners and finalists and the whole afternoon was a fantastic experience.

The entire process from the application to the work experience has been invaluable. I’ve gained extra application and interview experience, broadened my personal and professional networks and identified my transferable skills as well as things to work on.

My week-long work placement at Clifford Chance also gave me great insight into a career path I’d never previously considered. During my time there I increased my legal knowledge, participated in skills sessions, shadowed lawyers and even learnt how to make chocolate in Brussels! I left with a whole new perspective on the legal sector, my career options and some great new friends.

I’d advise people who are considering it to just go for it and be open-minded – you’re going to learn a lot along the way. Be yourself and be open to the new experiences and people you’ll get to meet.