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Like all good career-related love stories, it all began with a LinkedIn scroll. I came across the undergraduate of the year awards when previous winners were sharing their successes and I wondered how the participating students had achieved such a big accolade. I was keen to apply for the 2019 awards and was thrilled to see that a new category, ‘future business Leader’, was sponsored by Proctor & Gamble, a company I recognised for their unforgettable campaigns within advertising and marketing.
The application process mirrors that of most internship/graduate jobs. To start there were a few essay-type questions, followed by online testing (numerical, abstract reasoning and situational judgement testing) all of which I practised using online websites. After I passed these, I was invited to a video interview with P&G and then a three-day onsite ‘commercial careers academy’. Juggling both excitement and nerves, I had no idea who I was going to be meeting and what the programme would be over at HQ. Little did I know that this was going to be the best ‘interview’ I’d have to date as all the candidates and staff were super friendly when we met at the hotel. Each room had a little note from P&G and a massive bag filled with enough products to take us into 2020. We were wined and dined, taken around the office and taught about the work they do as one of the biggest players within the FMCG industry. This made for an intense period of learning, but it was super interesting and had an interactive team element to it.

A couple of weeks later, I was very excited when I heard I had made it into the top ten across the UK. I met up with the other girls in April ready for the final in the East Wintergarden in Canary Wharf, where we were met with lots of cameras, drinks and the lovely undergraduate of the year finalists.  At the time, the ‘future business leader’ category was the only one to hold a three-day assessment; therefore, our table was chatting away before the ceremony as we caught up on what we’d missed since we last saw each other. This leads me on to the main highlight of the awards for me, which is the network you’re able to form when introduced to some of the highest achieving students within their respective industries – from law to finance to community action. I am still inspired by the work ethic and dedication presented by our category winner Arya Tandon, and the stories I heard during the entire process.

The networking is not just limited to students as the finals also welcome C-suite leaders from the sponsoring firms. As the incoming president of the university of Nottingham’s business management and leadership society, I took this as an opportunity to spot the companies that were actively investing in top talent. This was successful: one of the sponsoring firms. Enterprise-Rent-A-Car, offered to sponsor a wellbeing programme after I sent a proposal bringing to light the fact that 27% of university students suffer with poor mental health. As a result, we were able to provide free yoga and meditation classes for 2000 members of our business school following the UGOTY award this is a brilliant first step to putting wellness on the agenda for career-focused student groups.

My advice to all students reading this is to apply for the undergraduate of the year awards and surround yourself with people who are proactively making a positive difference beyond the four walls of the university lecture halls. I am of the mindset that university is a prime time to accelerate your learning beyond the curriculum, to increase your exposure to different industries, and to develop your communication, leadership and teamwork skills. The entire experience enhanced my exposure to business, therefore making it an unarguably meaningful endeavour.