Mustafa is a second year Law student.
So, in early April I ventured to the capital and felt like a high street commercial lawyer for a couple of days; taking the tube to Fleet Street, enjoying the surroundings of London, staying in a rather sumptuous hotel for a couple of days and being warmly welcomed by a Magic Circle Law Firm. I had been invited to take part in the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Scheme, a scheme designed for Black Minority Law students to take part in a two day assessment centre at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. I took the opportunity to take part in this scheme so I could gain some valuable experience, and obviously aim for a scholarship.
After talks with the career advisers at Sheffield Hallam I realised preparation was key, so I did background research on the Law firm to get the gist of what work they do and what type of qualities they look for in a person they hire or award scholarships to.
There were just over fifty Black first year Law students like myself from across the country, all with different backgrounds and rather remarkable stories. I enjoyed meeting highly motivated individuals who have all strived to get where they were on that day and I really enjoyed the competitive edge that every individual brought to the table.
We took part in many activities that tested our aptitude to think fast on our feet and it was really an action packed couple of days, as it is with most assessment centres. I was initially daunted by the fact that every move I made was being watched and tested, but once we got started I genuinely found it was surprisingly fun. If I were to pick my favourite part of the assessment centre it would be the interview I had at the end, with two Senior Partners at the firm, as this allowed me to demonstrate myself on a more personal level with the lawyers that I aspire to develop into.
Unfortunately, I did not receive the scholarship. I felt as though if I engaged more in discussions when all the students were together, I may have stood out a little more. Obviously this requires confidence in public speaking and I am sure that is something I can work on.
I was invited back for a feedback session where I was told I narrowly missed out and they gave me some valuable feedback that provided me with confidence in myself going forward. I was also lucky enough to secure a work placement where I will be required to shadow selected partners and solicitors that work at Freshfields.
This was a priceless experience that I am very proud of taking part in. It has motivated me to work harder in studies as it has shown me firsthand what future holds for those who strive for success.
My advice for anyone taking part in this scheme in the future, or for anyone with an upcoming assessment centre, is to without a doubt prepare, this can be achieved by making sure you know about the type of activities that will occur on that day, and what it is they want to see in you, that way you will stand a better chance in showcasing yourself in the best way.