Thinking of applying to the Undergraduate of the Year Awards? Read our Future Business Leader winner's experience!

Secret from a Scottie…

Here’s my thinking… 'Of the 350,000+ graduates throughout the UK that successfully graduate from the class of 2015, how am I going to differentiate myself? How am I going to make myself more attractive to future employers and achieve my ambitious career goals?' I bet I'm not the first or last person to think this rather daunting thought.

With the highest level of competition ever in the workplace, it’s tough to carve out your career these days and if I could pass on one secret, it would be this:

Enter the Undergraduate of the Year Awards...

Back in November 2014 I received an email from TARGETjobs outlining the competition. The titles were daunting but they intrigued me. How could they really decide out of all these people who was the winner? Well firstly, not all 350,000+ students would apply: only 3,000 would make the effort. This already greatly improves my chances of winning but that’s still not great odds. Next I questioned, ‘What is the difference between myself, Lynne Howie, and the winner in April 2015? What do they have that I don’t?’

I didn’t know the answer but I was going to give myself the opportunity to be that person, so I took a chance and applied. Keeping the application very quiet, I put it in a box to the back of my mind to avoid jinxing myself and tentatively awaited a reply. The day came when I received the phone call from Mars. Taken a little by surprise and without much preparation, I threw myself into the call and an invitation shortly followed to visit their London HQ. The whole process was a whirlwind of excitement and when I realised I was in the running, my attitude completely changed. I realised just how valuable the title and experience of Future Business Leader Undergraduate of the Year could be to my career moving forward.

With a trip to Dubai and the opportunity to intern at Mars up for grabs, there was really no stopping me, I had the desire to see the process through to the end. When the congratulatory email pinged into my inbox I was absolutely elated to be a finalist. Making a phone call home to my parents that evening was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had! They didn’t even know I’d entered, let alone been flown to London and interviewed.

The ceremony was held in April at the stunning East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, London. There was a buzz in the room – I was so excited to be part of it and relieved to have taken the time to enter in the first place. We were so lucky to have Fiona Bruce present the awards ceremony and when she called out the winner of the future business leader award as Lynne Howie, I honestly took a moment to realise that was me! It was such a privilege to be chosen by Mars and I am forever thankful for the journey. It was a memory I will keep with me, pushing me onwards and upwards in my business career.

So, when you wonder how you could make yourself stand out when it comes to your turn to enter the labour market, perhaps use the secret of a Scottie…and make a small effort that might just make a massive difference.

'Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard.'

Where are they now?

Commercial support manager at Alexander Dennis Limited.