I didn’t want to go into corporate/commercial law until late into my second year of uni so that left me with little time to prepare and very little confidence (when everyone else seemed to have completed first year schemes/knew what they were doing etc.). It took me a long time to believe I could get into a good corporate law firm and I spent way too much time being hard on myself.
I wish I realised sooner that the whole process – applications/interviews/schemes – are trainable skills and much like learning to play an instrument or working out, it’s going to be tough in the beginning but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
And something a bit more concrete: I would have saved applications to certain firms until a bit later after I had some time to practice. That came back to bite me for a few when I couldn’t re-apply in the same cycle despite having a significantly better application.