Hey you! Yes, you. Are you about to let this opportunity slip through because you believe you are not the type of person who would win this?

Then you are in the same position as I was when applying for the Male Undergraduate of the Year Award 2017. If you want to enjoy a succulent meal in one of London’s fanciest locations, sat between managers of prestigious companies, then I would urge you to apply! I was in my second year of university and. like most students, I spent several months searching and applying for placements. At the start of the year, my ideal placement was L’Oréal in London, but I did not apply for the company since I was being 'realistic', in the sense that this was way out of my league.

However, without really knowing what I would be winning, I thought the experience was worth it and I applied. Then, I found myself traveling to London and ultimately, sitting among the top 40 at L’Oréal. Since I had not really slept because of nervousness, I was too tired to feel any stress. The interns led us on a tour around the departments, we held presentations and got interviewed. It was my first ever interview and the whole experience really surprised me in a positive way. I was expecting a rigid and corporate-like environment but it was none of that. Instead everyone was welcoming and working spaces were open and inclusive. It was an overall great first impression and an invaluable opportunity to network with employees and current interns.

Finally, I not only got invited back for the top ten finalists’ ceremony, but the cherry on the cake was a phone call from L’Oréal offering me a placement in London. The ceremony lasted for four hours and it was great to be able to meet all the other finalists from the different categories. In addition, I was able to chat to and get to know L’Oréal managers, which heightened my excitement even more to start my placement. A piece of advice for anyone making it through to the second stage would be to express genuine interest for the people and the company. During the interview, answering questions with a more creative touch and avoiding being generic will likely be appreciated. And finally, do not forget to smile and be curious.

Where are they now?

Cedric Blanc is a marketing intern at Armani Fragrances L’Oréal.