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It all started last year when I found out about the Undergraduate of the Year Award but was too late to apply. Hence, when I received the email this year I did not wait to go for it. The innovation section was the most appealing to me, given my skillset and experiences...

The application was not as straightforward as I thought it would be. There were targeted questions not merely related to my experiences and skills, but also on current economic affairs. Nonetheless, I ended up enjoying the process of thinking about the implications of geopolitical events on the economic outlook of countries such as the UK. Once I’d done the tests and completed the application I awaited a response, not expecting to get through, given the large number of students applying and the high competition. I was incredibly surprised when I found out that I had made it to the next stage.

Barclays invited all the selected students to their offices to present their experience of shared growth ambition in a given context. It was such an amazing experience to attend the event and meet all the students. Something that struck me was the lack of competition between us. We were all genuinely happy for each other, appreciating our projects and efforts to make them work. After a great day we returned home, hoping to see each other in the final stage.

After a couple of weeks I was once again speechless when I read that I had been selected to attend the final event. I was even more surprised when I realised that the students I had met in the second stage were all going to be present as well!

The final event held in Canary Wharf was a complete success. The atmosphere was extremely welcoming and the overall organisation was perfect. The best part was actually meeting the finalists of other challenges and hearing their stories, aspirations and hopes. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many unique and talented individuals; it made the overall experience even more enriching and motivational. Another really positive aspect of the event was the opportunity it provided to meet professionals from different firms, establishing new connections and learning about their current and future projects.

I ended this beautiful experience with a greater sense of self-awareness and contentment. Throughout this journey I have had the opportunity to learn many invaluable lessons, such as the importance of throwing yourself into any interesting opportunity that can enrich and enhance your skillset. Also, I have learned about the importance of being persistent and consistent when working towards your goals. Lastly, I’ve learned that it is always critical to reflect and think critically about what happens around you.

I encourage anyone willing to challenge and learn about themselves to apply to any of these awards – without a doubt it is time well spent.