I did not for a second believe that I would even make it through the first round, but I decided to fill out the application and take the tests to familiarise myself with the application processes I’m likely to face upon graduation.
I was absolutely over the moon when I made it through the first round. TARGETjobs sent the shortlisted applications to Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Those shortlisted then had a 20-minute telephone interview with Ashley Hever, the director of talent acquisition for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. This itself was a massive experience for me, as speaking with someone so high up in a huge company is really interesting, as well as nerve-racking!
Those who were successful at this stage were invited down to the company's European headquarters in Egham for an assessment day in March. As a Scottish student studying in Glasgow, attending this assessment day was a big commitment for me and required me to take two days out of university to travel down and attend. Not one part of me was prepared to let this opportunity pass by; I booked the hotel and flights and headed to London to take part!
This was a fantastic experience – not only to visit the European headquarters but to experience a professional assessment day, much the same as Enterprise Rent-A-Car's graduate recruitment process. I was thrilled to meet so many friendly recruiters from Enterprise Rent-A-Car, as well as several impressive students from around the UK. After a nervous few days waiting to hear, I received a phone call from Ashley Hever to inform me that I had made the top ten. I was totally shocked to have been chosen to represent the University of Strathclyde at the final in Canary Wharf!
The whole day was amazing. TARGETjobs pulled out all the stops to make it a wonderful day of celebration. Television presenter Konnie Huq was the host for the day and made it an entertaining and professional event. I kept having to pinch myself that I was actually there, in the presence of some of the UK’s brightest undergraduates and most successful company executives! That being said, everyone was really encouraging and each of the individuals representing Enterprise Rent-a-Car spent a lot of time speaking to the finalists, wanting to know about our lives and future aspirations. I really think this says a lot about the organisational culture within Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which aspires to boost and nurture talent.
Khaled Shahbo, corporate vice-president/managing director UK & Ireland, Enterprise Holdings Inc, presented the Management award. I was shocked and thrilled to hear my name read out – the other finalists were so talented! It was an honour to be in a room with the brightest undergraduate talent in the UK and to be named one of the twelve winners. I think my face in the photos says it all: I was totally shocked, honoured and thrilled. I keep having to pinch myself when I remember that I did actually achieve it!
Part of the prize is an internship on two continents! My ten-week summer placement with Enterprise Rent-A-Car includes a week in the USA, where I'll experience all aspects of the business, from customer service to marketing to finance and sales, as well as valuable networking opportunities, including the chance to meet the directors and senior management at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in summer 2018.
This process has taught me a lot about myself. As an undergraduate, it is hard to know what the professional world will be like and how the skills that I am learning in my studies will be applied after university. I was able to experience an assessment centre, where my teamwork, communication, and presentation skills were put to the test. I have gained so much confidence in my abilities, understanding what it is to be 'employable', which is something that I have always viewed as almost unattainable. I am really passionate about management and love working with people and therefore it is such an honour to be able to say that I am the UK Management Undergraduate of the Year 2017.
As someone from a small town in Argyll in Scotland, to achieve something on the national stage is so encouraging. Taking part in a competition like this allows students to meet other undergraduates studying the same subjects from around the UK and to get their name out there among some of the UK's biggest and best graduate employers. My network has grown significantly as a result of this competition and I look forward to seeing what all of the finalists and award winners go on to achieve!
My career has gone from strength to strength since the awards, with LinkedIn requests flying in and being chosen as a Saltire Scholar. I’m so grateful to TARGETjobs and Enterprise Rent-A-Car for allowing me to realise my potential. My confidence has been well and truly boosted and my aspirations have too. This achievement really hit home recently, as I attended my brother’s graduation from the University of Strathclyde and my award was mentioned in the summary of the University’s annual review of achievements. My parents just about burst with pride and I was so pleased that I could make the university, my family, my home town and fellow students proud.
I hope to share this new-found confidence and show the young people that I work with that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it! It is clear that there are some brilliant and talented undergraduates in the UK, not just from the biggest, most prestigious universities, but from all around. I would encourage any other undergraduate from any year or degree discipline to sign up to TARGETjobs and get involved when the applications for next year open! You really have got nothing to lose and you definitely do have so much to gain!