1. How did you find out about the Undergraduate of the Year competition and what made you apply?
I first found out about the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of The Year Awards through my university’s careers service, who actively promoted these awards. Also, prior to this the careers service had provided me with a mentor who openly identified as LGBT and they encouraged me to apply. Given both the support from my university and mentor I felt confident in making an application.
2. How did you find the selection process and assessment day?
The process was challenging but highly rewarding, providing lots of firsts. The structure took the form of a 500 word essay, a Watson Glaser test and then two final interviews. The hardest part for me was the essay, where I was asked questions such as ‘What I would tell my younger self coming out?’ and ‘What advice I would give to a professional struggling with their sexuality?’ However, in answering these questions I was able to learn a lot about myself and to reflect on my own personal experience being openly LGBT, which I believe is important for anyone who identifies similarly to do. Moreover, having never applied for a career in law before taking the Watson Glaser test was completely new to me. Though, again with the support of my university I was able to practice and understand the assessment from other law students that I knew. This I believe helped me to secure a successful score which therefore meant I was invited to the final interview.
For many, interviews can be extremely daunting, and Clifford Chance fully recognised this and as a result arranged for those who had reached this point in the assessment to meet socially. This informal event beforehand enabled us as interviewees to feel more relaxed and calm about the rest of the experience. The interviews themselves were very conversational and overall provided a great chance to learn more about the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives.
3. What were the highlights of your work experience placement with Clifford Chance?
The two highlights of my work experience with Clifford Chance were firstly the people I met and connected with and secondly the ability to develop my legal knowledge and corporate awareness. These two elements solidified my belief that a career in law is right for me.
The experience week was structured so that we were taught in the first two days about the various functions within the firm as well as ways the opportunity to build our soft skills, which are essential for employability. Then, the next two days gave us the chance to gain a practical insight through shadowing partners and associates in their respective fields of law. Lastly, the experience week ended with us traveling to Brussels, to not only learn how to make Belgium chocolates but, to also understand the firm’s truly international network.
4. What did you find most surprising about the culture and workplace at Clifford Chance?
Identifying as both LGBTQ+ and Autistic means that the culture of a workplace is a crucial factor in my decision when I apply and choose to work for a company. This has made me very vigilant of a company’s espoused inclusion rhetoric. However, through this award I have been able to experience first-hand that for Clifford Chance inclusion is a reality and as such is a company where I can envision bringing my true-self to work.
5. What was the most useful thing you learnt on the placement?
What I learnt through undertaking a placement with Clifford Chance is how valuable a non-law degree can be. At first when applying I believed studying law would be a prerequisite, yet many of the partners and associates I shadowed had pursued degree in a varied range of subjects. Therefore if you are reading this and feeling the same please let me reassure you that every degree and experience you have is valued and valid.
6. What advice would you give individuals considering applying next year?
I would encourage anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+, especially those who are actively involved in the LGBTQ+ community to apply. The advice I would give to those who do, is to be yourself, openly and honestly. I also suggest that individuals who apply should consider this process as an experience to be enjoyed and to try to have fun throughout, without thinking necessarily about the potential career in law.