It is nearly a month since I was presented with my award, and I am still on the high of amazement and disbelief! I am very happy I applied for the award, as it was not only a fun experience in itself, it was also very rewarding. I have developed my skills at interviews, online assessments and learned how to better conduct myself in professional situations. I would recommend this award to anyone who is even slightly considering it. I would also make it clear that being a first year student did not hinder my chances either, like I thought it would. Barclays considered everyone on their individual merit and on a level playing field, something I am very grateful for.

I was first told about the competition through an email I received from my university. I will admit I had not heard of it before, and after a quick internet search, realised the value of the awards and the competition, along with the participation of key employers like Barclays for example.

I then decided I would quickly fill out the first stage of the application, with the mind-set that I had nothing to lose so why not give it a go!

The process began like any candidate selection process, something I was not used to being a first year student with limited experience of more complicated application procedures. I first had to fill in information about my academic background and motivations. I was then given questions more specific to Barclays, which were also interesting to me, being an Aeronautical Engineering student. This helped me understand more not only about Barclays, but also the kind of things companies want you to interpret about their operating environments. They are not only interested about the specific jobs you are applying for.

I was then given some online assessments to complete, testing problem solving ability and awareness.

After this, I was selected to attend an assessment centre at Barclays in Canary Wharf. Here, I met the other candidates I was up against. We all got on very well and they were all very friendly, and it was great to hear some of the things that they were up to. They were a very inspiring group of people (and I would have given the award to any of them!). At this assessment centre, I had to present about my innovations and how I approach situations in an innovative way. I spoke about all my extracurricular activities and how they have positively impacted other people.

A few weeks after this, I was invited to the Grand Final in Canary Wharf, something I was not expecting and so was very excited about.

This day was very enjoyable. I had to attend early to conduct an interview about my experiences and then enjoyed a lovely meal and discussions with my colleagues. I also spoke further with the very friendly staff from Barclays, knowing they knew who had won! It was also great to hear from the students from other awards about their different experiences with assessment centres and their activities. It opened my eyes to the amount of amazing students we have in this country.

After our meal, we endured the nervous wait as Rachel Riley, the awards presenter, got down to the Innovation category. I was very shocked when she announced my name. I was so sure I would not win I did not even have room in my bag for the trophy!

I am now thoroughly looking forward to my summer internship with Barclays and the other exciting opportunities they have awarded me. I would thoroughly recommend applying for these awards as being able to say you were the recipient of an award will be an invaluable addition to any CV and future job application. I wish anyone applying the best of luck and assure them that if they want to win, there is nothing stopping them!