Clifford Chance is a firm that has always taken diversity seriously; we want to recruit the best people regardless of background. We are proud of the steps we have made to ensure an open and inclusive culture but as graduate recruiters, it is important that we convey this to students.
So, back in 2013 we agreed to have a stall at the Student Pride job fair.
We rocked up in Brighton and found ourselves completely outside of our comfort zone. We had taken along our corporate stand, a couple of trainees in suits and a pot of branded pens… we soon realised that this was a very different careers fair to the ones we were used to attending!
Because of this, we didn’t have the most productive day. However there was something about the event that we loved and we could see the potential.
We had a follow up meeting with the organisers and fed back our thoughts from an employer’s perspective – they took these on board and told us that the event was moving to London. As a result, we agreed that we would become gold sponsors and we have been since 2014.
When we turned up to the event in 2014, we had a very different approach. We took a much bigger team made up of a variety of people from Partners to Associates to Trainees all of whom are part of Arcus, our internal LGBT network.
We also had future trainees who haven’t even joined the firm yet, as well as members of the graduate recruitment team.
We still took our corporate stand but we created bespoke banners, leaflets and giveaways and also had a photo booth (a pink sparkly one – not to be at all stereotypical!).
This attracted a large number of people to our stand and then our team could engage with them while they were waiting to use the booth.
This has been our approach every year since, although we tweak it to ensure that we are engaging as best we can with as many students as possible. Student Pride do the same and the event gets better every year; more employers get involved and more students attend.
Last year was Student Pride’s 10th anniversary. In that time, it has grown to offer the UK’s largest LGBT careers fair. It also won Best Event at the British LGBT awards. We are so proud to be a part of it.
I remember standing in G-A-Y at around 2am in 2014 and speaking to a young gay student who was telling me that he had come to Student Pride on his own, had already made lots of friends and it was one of the first times he had been in an environment where he could completely be himself. That confirmed to me that we were part of something amazing.
The event is so well organised and is such a fantastic opportunity for students from all over the UK to come together and speak to employers who feel they have an open and inclusive environment.
The job fair is part of a weekend full of activities where students can network with other individuals in a safe environment. The fair definitely has a fun element to it but there are also genuine opportunities for students to find out about the opportunities available to them at a range of employers.
This year, Clifford Chance, along with a number of other sponsors are going to be running a mock assessment day session where students can come and find out about group exercises and competency interviews and receive feedback directly from recruiters.
Job fair advice
If you are coming along to Student Pride, or if you are planning on attending any similar job fairs in the future, here are some things that you should think about.
- Find out which employers are there and decide who you really want to speak to – it is an amazing opportunity to have so many different employers under one roof so make the most of it.
- Once you are with an employer, speak to the right people – if you have lots of questions about the firm in general, possibly about how LGBT employees feel about working there then anyone on the stand should be able to help.
If you want to find out more about the actual role then make sure you are speaking to someone who either is or has previously worked in that role. If you have specific questions about the recruitment process then track down the graduate recruiters.
It is very common for an interested student to spend a lot of time with one employer speaking to a number of individuals to gain a range of opinions. This is absolutely fine and shows you are really keen.
- If you are lucky enough to have one-on-one time with an employee from a firm you are interested in, ask considered questions – try not to avoid the generic questions which are probably answered on the website or in their brochures. In other words, ask the questions that you cannot get from Google: ‘What do you do on a day to day basis?’, ‘What is the best part of your job?’
- Go with an open mind. Clifford Chance are a law firm and students will often walk straight past because they are not studying law at university. This doesn’t matter to us; we recruit students from a law and non-law background and we put you through all of the relevant training. In short, don’t write anything off until you hear more about it.
- Add your name to the firm’s database. If you have found an employer that you like then they will probably have a signup sheet or an iPad where you can register your details and this will allow you to receive updates from the firm.
- Take a notebook and write down some of the information you get from the employers. You will probably speak to so many people that it could all get a bit blurry so it will be good to have it written down which you can refer to later.
- Have fun – a careers fair isn’t a job interview – it is an opportunity for you to find out about different employers so make the most if it.
National Student Pride takes place 5-7 February in London. To find out more visit www.studentpride.co.uk. Visit the Clifford Chance website, www.cliffordchancegraduates.com if you are interested in the opportunities available at the firm.