During my first term at university, I initially came across the Undergraduate of the Year Awards when I was browsing different career websites and I stumbled across TARGETjobs. I pre-registered for updates and, when applications opened, I applied for the Construction and Engineering award sponsored by Laing O’Rourke.

I did not think much of my initial application, consisting of my CV and questions asked by the employer, and was certain that I would not make it through. However I advanced to the next stage and completed the situational judgement tests. These tested how I would react to certain situations and tasks presented to me as an engineer. Following this, I then completed a virtual interview with two engineers from Laing O’Rourke. This interview was modified from an assessment centre due to lockdown and, throughout the session, we discussed my passion for civil engineering. I was asked to present about myself and answer other questions about the company during the interview. My favourite part of this experience was engaging in conversation about civil engineering projects that inspired me and they provided me with further detail of Laing O’Rourke’s contribution to these.

After a few weeks of waiting to hear back, I was told that I had made the final! To make it this far had been a personal goal of mine since the start and I could not believe that I was chosen among other accomplished students. The lead-up to the final was a very exciting and anxious wait, alongside waiting to find out if it would take place in person or online. Despite this, the date was set: Friday 4 September 2020.

When the day finally arrived, it was a mixture of emotions but I was generally very excited for the virtual final and to network with Laing O’Rourke and the other finalists. Before the awards ceremony took place, we even got to speak to the host of the event, Rachel Riley, on a Zoom call. The awards ceremony was extremely enjoyable as we heard from a number of key individuals who helped run the awards and each award winner was announced by Rachel and a person from the corresponding sponsor company. It almost felt as if we were there as confetti was coming down on the screen and everyone was reacting in the comments section below. Despite not winning the award overall, this was a great experience to advance my career and distinguish myself. I built up a great network with Laing O’Rourke and hope to complete placements with them in the future.

Overall, this was the best experience I had during my first year of university and I am now looking forward to going into my second year specialising in civil engineering. Being an award finalist will help me massively as I advance through my career and apply to roles due to being distinguished from other candidates. Furthermore, I have gained an increased amount of confidence from this journey and I now feel more self-assured when completing both academic and extracurricular activities.

As the current careers director for Warwick Engineering Society, I am passionate about sharing this opportunity with as many others in my department as possible and encouraging them to apply.

Now looking back on this amazing experience, a piece of advice I would highlight to students is to be your whole self throughout and emphasise your achievements. As well, I would recommend showing what differentiates you as an applicant and how this will benefit the company who is sponsoring the award.

Best of luck to any future applicants to the awards. This has definitely been an experience that I won’t forget!