My experience of the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award

Upon hearing of The Undergraduate of the Year awards I was immediately intrigued by what they entailed. On the website I was inundated with stories from previous winners and finalists and I was a little intimidated by some people’s vast experiences. I was in complete awe, but thought to myself, why not give it a go! Advice to anyone who like me is worried about not being good enough: stop doubting yourself and go for it! This whole process showed me the importance of diving into new experiences, as you are guaranteed to learn. Learning means growing and growing means being one step closer to finding your forte.

Scrolling through the different awards on the TARGETjobs website, one particularly caught my eye: the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award. I knew I wanted an award that would be fitting for my skills and also a company that was different from my other applications. The Female Undergraduate of the Year award achieved just that. Firstly, as a politics student I saw myself as a natural problem solver and my involvement as a communicator in campaigning and activism seemed in alignment with the online profile for the award. Secondly, I was motivated at the prospect of working for an engineering-based company such as Rolls-Royce. The fact that Rolls-Royce sponsor this award made me reassess my perceptions of the company. I really admire Rolls-Royce for reaching out to young women through this award and sending a powerful message to the engineering world.

Having made the decision to apply, I began the pretty lengthy application process. I had to provide written answers to set questions; following this, I had some intense online tests and then the assessment centre. The assessment centre was terrific (albeit with the benefit of hindsight!) as it tested a range of capabilities and this is invaluable for recognising your strengths and weaknesses. However, the assessment day can be quite overwhelming, so here are some tips from me to you: take the day in manageable chunks, take each task and challenge as and when it comes, don’t work yourself up and finally don’t set yourself too many expectations. Honestly, by the end of the day I felt like I had grown as a person. That may sound clichéd but the whole day made me acknowledge how I work and think, and this is invaluable for the future.

We were told that we would receive a phone call in the next few days, honestly, I had my phone in my hand constantly! Awaiting the phone call from Suki Findon, the European Resourcing Lead/Campus Manager, was almost as nerve-racking as the assessment centre. I really wanted to make it to the final ten, so I cannot tell you the relief when I was told that I had. Moreover, I was told that I had been offered a Commercial internship. I was on cloud nine.

The final was an opportunity to celebrate being part of a group of ten strong, intelligent, passionate women who were the crème de la crème of the applicants for the award. I was privileged to be among such like-minded individuals! A lavish location in Canary Wharf, the day was filled with wonderful music, tasty food and some inspiring stories. I may not have won the award, but I certainly felt like a winner meeting Rachel Riley!

The climax of all this has been the internship at Rolls-Royce this summer. After surviving my second-year exams, I got ready to move up to Derby and start my internship at the end of June. There was a lot to take in, living in a new place and starting an internship for a company I was in awe of. The first day nerves soon evaporated, and now I can barely believe that those ten weeks have gone so quickly. As a Sales & Contracting intern within the Commercial function, I was exposed to many different areas of the business and had lots of responsibility, whether that was adding edits to a contract or leading the quarterly Risk Review. The internship showed me how the business and engineering world need to work in tandem to achieve the best results. Yes, we need the engines and the product to sell, but we also need strong contracts in place and individuals in customer-facing roles to make the best deals and yield the financial rewards of that product. The cross-functional nature of this role required so many different skills and I was constantly tested and challenged. The internship gave such an insight into the business and what life would really be like at Rolls-Royce. I recognised the inclusive culture of the organisation and how respected the brand was in the aerospace industry. Every day was so varied, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend my summer.

The internship is one of the best insights you can get into better understanding the world of work and whether a certain sector is for you. If you don’t expose yourself to different fields of work, you won’t truly know if that’s where your future may lie. I feel very privileged to have worked at Rolls-Royce and I look forward to what the future holds. This internship at Rolls-Royce has truly given me the proficiencies and awareness to tackle my final year.

I was extremely intimidated about applying for this award, but I can now say I am a lot more confident about applying for any opportunity that comes my way. I don’t need to be afraid of tackling what is still a man’s world. I see it as a responsibility as a Female Undergraduate finalist to lead the way in continually making suitable change so that women never feel afraid to achieve their potential. I am ready for the challenge in whatever form this takes and I hope you are too.