I was a top ten finalist for First Year of the Year in 2012. I entered on a bit of a whim, not really expecting anything to come of it, so to be shortlisted was a huge achievement for me. I went through the Ernst and Young application process and doing so really opened my eyes. I met some amazing people and was interviewed in the final stage by Liz Bingham and Stephen Isherwood - two stellar figures in the world of business and recruitment. The award showed me that I was far more capable and employable than I ever thought I was. I was so struck by how personable everyone at EY was. The experience taught me that the world of big business is nothing to intimidated by, and the doors are open for people like me.
After the awards, I spent a year abroad in France and Russia (my BA was French and Russian). After graduating from UCL in 2014, I spent some time soul-searching and working in the charity sector and, er, gutting fish for a large supermarket. During this time, whenever the job hunt was less than fruitful, I thought back to the awards and remembered that I had come top ten in a national competition. It got me through the rough time that every graduate goes through - unless they are very very lucky.
I realised wasn't 'done' with academia and wanted another string to my bow, so I took the plunge and did a MA in Russian studies at UCL. I speak Russian to masters level now and teach it as a freelance at GCSE level. But more importantly, my day job is as a content writer for Mumsnet. I joined the editorial team as an intern straight after finishing my MA and was made editorial assistant soon afterwards. It's a fantastic place to work and I’ve learned a huge amount about business, SEO and marketing while honing my writing skills and curating a large database of cat gifs. I'm surrounded by brilliant, intelligent women (and some brilliant, intelligent men too, come to think of it) every day. And when the time comes to move on, I will remember that I have more to bring to the table than I think I do. I'm forever grateful to Undergraduate of the Year for that.