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I applied for the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award on a whim after a very difficult first year at university. I applied in my second year to gain experience for the future in applying for graduate schemes, which I am very passionate about getting onto.

In my first year I was diagnosed with depression. I was daunted by big tasks and balancing work, friends, university etc. I applied for the summer internship with Enterprise Rent-A-Car (the sponsor for the management award) in my first year at university, but withdrew my application after the telephone interview out of fear of trying something new. So, when my second year came around and I approached everything with a clear and fresh mind, I was ready to put myself out there and apply for things that I would otherwise find scary.

When I saw that Enterprise was partnering with the Management Award, I wanted to apply as I knew this was a chance for redemption! Even if I did not get any further than the application form, at least this time I didn’t withdraw my application. I didn’t tell my university I was applying for the award until I got to the assessment centre and it all got a little bit more real!

Before I even applied for the award, the university helped me massively though. I remember after a long decision I set up a meeting with my programme leader to discuss how difficult I had found first year. He made me realise that I have a lot of support around me and I am not alone in my depression. Before this meeting I had filed my letter to drop out of university and was in the process of completing forms, so even this little meeting really changed things massively. I don’t think my programme leader knows how much I appreciate his kind words and the level of impact they had.

Getting to the final of the awards has given me the confidence I really need to succeed in the future. I now know not to doubt myself or compare myself to others and if I show my true self then I cannot give much more. I didn’t expect to get this far but I am so glad I did. I have made amazing friends and connections, which I will hold onto throughout my career. In terms of the future, there are so many graduate schemes I have looked at but put to one side thinking they would be too difficult to get onto, such as the Civil Service Fast Stream, but after these awards and how far I have come, nothing can stop me now!