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I initially discovered the Undergraduate of the Year Awards when I came across it online in my first year of university. I was looking for possible opportunities that I could apply to, and I eagerly submitted my application for the 2018 ‘Undergraduate of the Year for Innovation’ category. I was not successful, but it motivated me to gain new experiences and develop my skills. When the next year came around, I took the chance and applied again.

While the application process was difficult, it was really clear. It involved two sponsor questions, followed by a personality questionnaire and a HackerRank programming test. To prepare for the 500-word questions, I made drafts and kept revising them through continued support and feedback. For the programming test, I prepared by solving practice questions and reading theory. Although I was a little nervous, overall I really enjoyed the initial application process and eagerly waited to see what came next.

When I received an invitation to the assessment day at Visa, I was overjoyed! The day consisted of a group presentation and two 1-on-1 interviews, the first focusing on behavioural questions, the second involving technical questions and pair programming with a Visa employee. One of the key highlights for me was being able to meet the other candidates – it was fantastic to be able to get to know some of the most amazing and talented people I’ve ever met.

A week after the assessment day, I got a call to say that I had been selected as a finalist and was invited to the awards ceremony in Canary Wharf in April. Being able not only to progress this far in the process, but also to be one of the ten finalists for the award felt unbelievable and amazing. Arriving at the venue, I quickly reunited with the other finalists from my assessment day and caught up on everything that had happened since we had last met. Not only was it a fantastic opportunity to network with some of the finest undergraduates in the nation, it was also a great chance to meet Rachel Riley and learn about her commitment to promoting STEM education.

After food and drinks, it was finally time to announce the results. Following a lot of anticipation, I was announced as the winner! Looking back, all I remember is just sitting in my chair in disbelief, not being able to contain my joy about winning the award. I’m forever grateful to both Visa and TARGETjobs for this opportunity, and I’m excited to start my summer internship with Visa soon.

For anyone who is thinking of applying to these Awards, I’d strongly recommend it. For me, the competition has reaffirmed my confidence in my abilities and taught me the importance of working on yourself to succeed. This competition is a great chance to push yourself further and see how far you can go; you have nothing to lose, so take the opportunity and apply!