I found out about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards through the TARGETjobs website while searching for information about placements and summer internships. The opportunity caught my eye initially because applicants had the chance to win prizes such as paid internships with companies sponsoring each award. I was immediately drawn to the management award, sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, as a career in management was what I hoped to pursue after graduating. After researching the company’s values and aims, I decided this was definitely an opportunity I wanted to get involved in. However, as a politics and international relations student whose degree didn’t relate to business or management, I thought I had very little chance of even getting past the first stage of the application process, and so I left my application details unfinished.
Two weeks later I received a reminder email that I had signed up to the awards but had not started my application and that the deadline was approaching. I decided to read through the entry requirements again and, as I looked at the criteria needed to be successful in this award, I felt that the experience I had gained outside of my degree meant that I could tick most of the criteria on that list, and after all, it was clearly stated that there were no degree requirements in order to apply for this particular category. At this point I thought I had nothing to lose by applying and at the very least it would be good experience for me to go through a graduate recruitment style application process and learn from it, so I may as well go for it! I never expected that months later I would be sitting in Canary Wharf at the awards ceremony listening to Rachel Riley talk about the importance of grabbing every opportunity available to you with both hands – after all, like she said, ‘you have to be in it to win it’. I would advise anyone considering whether or not to apply for the competition to take this advice as well!
My advice for the application process
The first stage of the application process required answering three questions relating to your leadership skills and experience. Make sure that your answers are personal to you, as this is the Enterprise’s chance to get an idea of your personality as well as your capabilities. There is then a set of psychometric tests to complete online: a logical reasoning test, situational judgement test, and an occupational personality questionnaire. If you are not sure what these are then don’t worry, neither was I! There are plenty of practice tests available online to prepare you for the actual assessment and I would recommend spending as much time as possible going through these to familiarise yourself with the structure and timings of the questions.
I was equally shocked and thrilled to find out a few weeks later that I had been selected for a phone interview as I had made it to the top 50! It’s really important at this stage if you haven’t already, to do your research into the company – their values and culture, and what they look for in a potential employee. This will demonstrate your enthusiasm for the company and your motivation to succeed. You can read blog posts of employee’s interview experiences and how to be successful on the Enterprise Rent-A-Car website. Also: get in touch with the talent acquisition team in your area, as they will be more than willing to provide you with advice for the interview and assist you throughout the rest of the application process.
The next stage was the assessment centre and for this I would say the most important thing is to be confident in your abilities. Once you have got this far in the process it is clear that you have demonstrated that you possess the skills and qualities that Enterprise are looking for, so be yourself and take it as an opportunity to network with the other applicants and the assessors. It may seem hard to believe, but if you just relax and take away any pressure you have put on yourself then you will find that the day can be a really enjoyable and insightful experience!
The awards ceremony in Canary Wharf
Throughout the whole application process I kept on telling myself that I probably wasn’t going to get to the next stage, so I was elated to hear that I had been successful in making it to the final. It all seemed very surreal as I sat in the East Wintergarden, surrounded by so many inspiring individuals. I was so grateful to have had the chance to be part of such a fantastic day, networking with the other finalists and celebrating the achievements of all the winners. Our wonderful host Rachel Riley gave an empowering and uplifting speech, and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.
For more advice on how to be successful in the Management award, check out the how to get hired section on Enterprise’s TARGETjobs hub page!