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Blogs – My Undergrad experience

I never thought I would get this far, let alone win an amazing award, so I originally applied just to embrace the experience – I thought it was too good an opportunity to miss when I heard about it from my university. I read the blogs and experiences of previous winners and read the incredible stories and observed the talent I would inevitably be up against this year. Nevertheless, I thought it would be a worthwhile experience to expose myself to for later life and had nothing to lose.

The application process was fairly standard. It was comprised of motivation questions, followed by an online test. I would definitely recommend practising these tests elsewhere when applying to other jobs to gain some experience of how to answer them — they can be challenging to the uninitiated. Once successful, I received an invitation to the telephone interview. It was really important to do some good research at this stage to find out more about First Names Group (now called IQ-EQ) and see if they were a good fit for me. From reading about them online, they seemed to be a 'people focused' company, which can be a cliché that doesn't accurately represent a firm’s culture. However, as soon as I started speaking to them on the phone during my telephone interview, they put me at ease and confirmed to me that the description of their corporate culture as one valuing their people was in fact true. This was an aspect that really reinforced my desire to be a part of IQ-EQ and pushed me further during the assessment centre.

I knew the assessment centre was going to be tough due to the calibre of the other candidates, and especially with the early start. However, from the first moments, it never felt like a competition. Instead, it felt like a group of people trying to get the best out of me and everyone else. All the other candidates were extremely friendly, whereas when I’d been to other assessment centres I had been welcomed with hostility and intimidation. The assessment centre consisted of a group task, an individual presentation and a one-on-one interview.

I was extremely happy to learn that I had made it to the final and that I would meet Rachel Riley as I had grown up watching her. The heads of IQ-EQ flew over from all over the country to show support and share the day with us, again proving to me that the company cares about its people. At this point in time I was extremely proud and honoured to have been shortlisted in the top 10 of the category, but never thought I would win as the other candidates were all genuinely incredible people and great ambassadors for young people in the UK. After an exquisite meal, the winners of each category were announced and hearing the stories of all the winners, I was extremely humbled to be in such company. It came to the category of One to Watch and I wasn't nervous at all because I thought I wasn't going to win it. When he read my name out, it didn't quite register with me until I saw my face on the screen!

I am extremely grateful to TARGETjobs for organising such an event and to IQ-EQ for partnering with this award. I cannot wait to work with you over the summer – especially the trip abroad!

My advice to any young person reading this is to apply. What is the worst that can happen? I didn't think I would win and it somehow happened, so just apply and believe in your abilities. Don't be afraid to point out skills that you realise you are weak at and you want to work on. We're young; we're allowed to not be strong at some things, and this award has really given me the experience and confidence to be able to continue learning.