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I discovered the Undergraduate of the Year Awards quite late into the process, having only signed up for TARGETjobs over the Christmas period. As an aspiring commercial law solicitor, I was immediately drawn to the prestigious Future Lawyer of the Year Award (sponsored by Allen & Overy), so I started my initial application three weeks before the January deadline.
The application involved advising on a commercial scenario set by the partner firm as well as a short essay on a societal issue of my choosing. Unfortunately, I then experienced what is best described as ‘imposter syndrome’ so did not continue my application. However, after an encouraging phone call with TARGETjobs (who are there to help you) and a chat with my housemates, I completed my application and sent it off for review. 

The next steps included two online tests: the occupational personality questionnaire and inductive reasoning tests. Although I had previously completed other online tests, I had never come across these particular types before – they were certainly challenging and required you to use lots of different parts of your brain. My tip would be to practice a variety of situational judgement tests, verbal reasoning tests and non-verbal reasoning tests in advance of your application. 

A few weeks later, an email popped up saying my application had been successful and I was to attend an assessment day at Allen & Overy’s London office. The assessment consisted of two interviews: a partner-led commercial case study and a scenario-based interview led by HR. The assessment day was also the first chance to meet the sponsor firm and all the other fantastic candidates. Both myself and another candidate I met at the event had travelled from our year abroad destination just to attend the assessment day – so no pressure!

Not long afterwards I heard the good news: I was a finalist in the Future Lawyer of the Year Award 2020 and would be taking part in the grand final in London. Unfortunately, the pandemic did change these plans a little bit – but no matter, the ceremony was to be held virtually with Rachel Riley as the host so there was still a lot to look forward to. After months of anticipation, the big day arrived! Although virtual, every effort had been put in place to make sure the ceremony was highly enjoyable. I could not believe how much the other finalists had achieved so I was truly humbled when Rachel Riley read out my name as the winner of the award. Shocked was an understatement!  

Life since the awards has certainly been busy. As part of my prize, I had the honour of receiving a coaching call with a partner (and fellow Sheffield alumna) at the firm. This was an invaluable, forward-focused discussion about career trajectory and skills to further develop as a future lawyer. Although I am yet to complete my work experience in FUSE, I am pleased to say I have since accepted a graduate position at Allen & Overy and look forward to joining the firm as a trainee solicitor upon completion of my studies.

I would like to thank everyone at TARGETjobs and Allen & Overy for this wonderful opportunity and encourage other undergraduates to get involved with the Undergraduate of the Year Awards 2021. My top tip? Go for it! I almost didn’t press that ‘send’ button and it’s safe to say my 2020 would’ve looked very different if I hadn’t! Regardless of the final outcome, you will gain valuable skills by completing the application stages and meeting a fantastic array of people along the way. Never say never – and good luck!