Shayna Mardenborough

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

I found out about the competition through an email from TARGETjobs. I must have received the email a few times over a number of weeks and thought nothing of it because I definitely did not see myself as an undergraduate of the year. I don’t know why but one day I just decided to click the link and see what was involved. As an LGBT student, what they were looking for definitely appealed to me as I do believe I’m passionate about inclusivity. On top of that, sponsored by Clifford Chance, my dream firm? I just had to do it.

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

The selection process wasn’t too difficult. The questions were based on myself and my experiences, so it felt very natural to talk about. The long waits between each step were definitely full of suspense, though. The assessment day itself was great! I met other candidates with similar and completely different experiences to mine and some have remained my friends since. I completely fell in love with Clifford Chance and their graduate recruitment team and cannot thank them enough for how calm and welcomed they made me feel.

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

I’ve always wanted to visit Belgium, so it would be hard to say Brussels was not the epitome of the placement. It’s a beautiful city and I cannot believe CC went out of their way to take us there. However, aside from this, for me it was going back to the Clifford Chance offices in London. The offices and Canary Wharf have begun to feel like a home away from home and I feel so happy when I’m there.

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

The open-door policy! Literally everyone, regardless of their level, is willing to have a chat whether about law, living in London, work/life balance. I never felt afraid to ask any questions or make any statements. It’s a completely non-judgmental place and everyone just wants to see you do well. Everyone was so friendly, despite being so obviously busy.

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

The most useful thing I genuinely learnt was that I am not the only person that feels imposter syndrome! We had a talk with a very successful partner and he explained that he still did not understand how he had made it as far as he had. I learnt I need to believe in myself, I’ve reached the level I have because I deserve it!

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

Be open and ready for the new experience. Make friends, it makes it so much easier. And remember, everyone is in the same/a similar boat to you. Don’t be afraid to talk on your experiences; we’re all growing and we’re all learning. Tell people about yourself and ask about them too. At this stage in your career, everyone you meet is important so learn about everyone at every different stage of the process. Lastly, believe in yourself!