Runner-up Laura tells us what she's been up to since the Undergraduate of the Year Awards

I first heard about the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards from an email sent to me by my careers service at my university. I had no expectations of making it through the online tests given the tough competition but I had nothing to lose by applying.

The online tests were something I had never experienced so I was extremely surprised when I found out that I was through to the top 36. I can remember my excitement when I set off for ACCA’s headquarters in London for their assessment day. This was by far the most challenging part of the competition. I was pushed out of my comfort zone but I remained confident in my own abilities. There was no way of telling how each candidate had performed, but I left having met some very inspiring, talented young people.

To my amazement, I found out that I had reached the final ten! Before the final in Canary Wharf, I was invited back to ACCA’s headquarters to meet and network with some representatives. It really hit me that these busy professionals had taken the time to come and speak to me and the other finalists about our career aspirations. It was at this point that I also noticed I was one of only two females to make the final cut. This filled me with even more pride.

The final in Canary Wharf was something else. The highlight for me was sitting next to the CEO of ACCA, Helen Brand, throughout the award ceremony. It was a surreal experience that I will never forget. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank TARGETjobs and ACCA for their input and organisation of the event.

If you have read this blog and are thinking of applying this year, my advice would be to go for it! Even if you are having doubts, just think – what’s the worst that can happen?

My top tips for applicants would be:

1) Prepare – carry out research and practise online tests (I found very useful)

2) Get involved – don’t stand back and let everyone talk over you, but don’t be overpowering either

3) Enjoy and learn from the experience – you will most likely encounter challenges, some harder than others, but try and learn from them as this will help you in the future.