I have enjoyed every stage of the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards, and I am extremely grateful to both TARGETjobs and L’Oréal for the incredible opportunities and experiences they have allowed me to access. I would encourage anyone and everyone who is eligible to apply!

I remember first hearing about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards during my freshers’ fair in October. After looking into the awards further and, in fact, after feeling inspired by blogs just like this, I decided I would send an application. I was first invited to complete three tests (numerical, situational judgement and personality), and answer a question from L’Oréal about a time we had innovated a process. While this question was intimidating at first, it didn’t take long for me to realise that I could approach it in many ways, and I enjoyed applying previous experiences (in my case, an idea I implemented at my home rowing club) to my answer.

A few weeks passed and I received an email from L’Oréal informing me that I had been ranked within the top 50, and as such I was invited to an assessment centre at L’Oréal UK’s head office in London. I was delighted to hear this, and I of course accepted the invitation! We were asked to prepare a presentation on improving sustainability at L’Oréal, which could be given to assessors on the day – this was a particularly challenging element of the process that I really enjoyed completing.

The assessment centre was an incredible experience. It was great to meet all the other candidates; I can remember feeling a sense of pride knowing that I was among the talented undergraduates I had spoken with on the day! The morning involved some further tests (numerical and attention-to-detail), the presentation of our pre-prepared sustainability slides and a group exercise. I approached all these assessments with confidence and an open mind, and I enjoyed the unique challenges that each of them presented.

After having lunch with the other candidates, myself and around 15 others were informed that we had made it through to the afternoon and would begin our final stage of the process: a one-to-one interview with a senior manager. The interview covered many competencies that were important to L’Oréal, from innovation and entrepreneurship to responsibility and leadership. I enjoyed answering every question because of how thought provoking they were, as well as how genuinely interested my assessor was in my interests and experiences.

About a week later, I received the email informing me that I had been selected as one of the top ten finalists for the award. I remember it was such an amazing feeling reflecting on how far I had come and everyone around me was so happy!

With quick developments in the Covid-19 situation, I had no expectation for anything to come from L’Oréal regarding the award and I was content with the knowledge that I had been recognised as a finalist. This made receiving my internship offer in May such a special moment, and one I will never forget!

I have now completed my ten-week internship at L’Oréal, working as a commercial intern for their largest division, the consumer products division (CPD). The ten weeks have been absolutely incredible; I have learned so much and developed countless skills. I was surprised by how much responsibility I was given, especially with the limitations due to working from home. I managed a £4 million account, which involved planning financial and promotional activities for 2020 and 2021, and performing financial appraisals and competitor analyses for the wider team. My line manager valued my determination to work on demanding tasks and always made sure that every task was challenging for me. I felt a huge sense of pride during the final reflection my manager and I had on my final day, as we both observed how much myself and the account I worked on had developed. 

The virtual final was extremely enjoyable and worked very well! I know that my family really enjoyed being able to watch the event live at home, as I did myself in office. It was so amazing to hear from the channel director that I had won the award. I remember my line manager being so happy for me and sending out a mass email to make sure everyone in the wider team knew about it!

Looking back, I can recognise that what was a shot-in-the-dark application actually ended up resulting in invaluable opportunities that have allowed me to develop significantly during a time of extensive uncertainty. I cannot thank L’Oréal and TARGETjobs enough for their efforts in making my experience with the award so positive, and I look forward to what the future might bring.