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One day during the winter break I decided not to ignore my inbox and my attention was caught by an email form TARGETjobs inviting me to take part in the Undergraduate of the Year Awards. I applied to ‘The One to Watchʼ because I have a broad range of interests and reading the candidate description I thought: this is for me!

The application process was very straightforward: answer a few questions from First Names Group and take four online tests. At this stage the key factors are having a good knowledge of the firm in order to answer their questions in a unique and original way, and have practiced the tests a little.

The next stage was a phone interview, which was mainly competency based. The important thing here is that you show that you have learned from your previous experiences and are able to apply what you’ve learned.

Subsequently there was the assessment centre which was structured around three ‘tasks’: a group discussion, where you had to evaluate a number of issues and reach a conclusion as a group; an individual case study, where you had to analyse a business and deliver a presentation on how to improve it; and an individual interview, to allow First Names Group to get to know you better.

Assessment centres can be very intimidating. However, despite being evaluated by very senior managers, First Names Group managed to create a stimulating environment where everyone was encouraged to do their best. Indeed, the individual interview was more a conversation. Nothing like those standardised STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) interrogations where the interviewer doesn’t even look at you and simply reads out prepared questions and ticks boxes.

The whole Undergraduate of the Year Awards experience was amazing and the champagne breakfast organised by First Names Group along with the final ceremony just brought it to a whole new level. Meeting many inspiring people, including Rachel Riley, from different backgrounds and industries was incredible. In fact, I’m still in touch with several other finalists.

I would definitely encourage anyone to apply because, no matter where you end up, it is a valuable experience to practice aptitude tests, assessment centres and interviews! Give it your all and be ‘in it to win itʼ, as Rachel Riley put it in her awards presentation speech, doing so you will make the most of this wonderful opportunity.

I would like to thank First Names Group and TARGETjobs for making all this possible. I am thrilled to have been a part of it and I wish good luck to all future applicants!