There isn’t a better way to enhance your employability while at university than participating in the ‘Undergraduate of the Year’ Award. After reading about this award and receiving an email from TARGETjobs, the organiser of the Undergraduate of the Year Award, I knew that my skills, experiences, competencies and keen interest in the energy sector would stand me in good stead when I entered the Engineering category, which is sponsored by E.ON.
The application process was challenging but interesting. The selection process involved many stages, from applying to psychometric tests to the assessment centre. Questions were asked that required a strong knowledge of the sponsor company's areas of interest.
The assessment centre was a good reflection of actual graduate assessment centres, which was good practice! I was thrilled to be able to demonstrate my passion and flair for engineering and the energy sector in particular. The ability of the other applicants at the assessment centre was phenomenal, and I remember thinking that I didn’t envy the organisers for having to choose a winner – I thought everybody performed with equal excellence and I wasn’t even sure I would make it through to the top ten! I was truly elated when I got to know that I had and would get to attend the gala awards ceremony at Canary Wharf, London.
This award and the whole process is a fantastic way for students to develop, recognise and articulate their personal and professional skills and attributes. If you win, the prize is pretty cool: a year-long or ten-week placement with E. ON. They will also fly you out to mainland Europe to spend five days at one of E.ON’s assets.
It is a great opportunity to boost your employability, enhance your professional development, expand your network, boost your confidence and, especially if you are able to make it to the top 10, gain some extra experience. Who knows – maybe you’ll even win it!
What particularly caught my interest was that if won, I would get to intern with a market-leading energy company, visit their EU headquarters and work in an area of my interest. I was prepared to come out having gained new experiences even if I did not win or even reach the top 10. I am glad that I decided to apply. Reaching the top 10 and being able to attend the awards ceremony... the memory of that award afternoon itself is giving me goosebumps. What an experience it was!
Some people avoid competitions like this, considering them too challenging because they are concerned about the winning and losing aspect. Try not to think like that. After this fantastic experience, I would like to advise everyone to have confidence in yourself – and go for it! Whether you win or not, you emerge as a more confident and a learned person. An opportunity to learn adds to your experience and wisdom. Recognition aside, merely applying for these awards brings a multitude of career benefits. Putting together an award application can help you reflect on your skills and career progression. It may push you to become more competitive by filling gaps in your CV and increasing your visibility. Of course, should you emerge from the process with an award in hand, all the better. But even if you don’t win, competing for an award is a worthwhile effort that will help you further your professional development.
I am amazed I got to the top 10 and, even though I didn’t win, the experience was fantastic, and I got to network with so many people! I had a brilliant time and it made me realise how happy I was that I had taken the time to apply.