Applying for the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards was an incredible experience from start to finish. It has benefited me more than I ever could have imagined: it enhanced my employability, helped my personal development and gave me experience of interning at one of the largest banks on the globe.

I stumbled across the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards during a lunch break at the insurance firm I worked for last summer. In a few weeks I was returning to university for my penultimate year and I really wanted to gain online application experience – something that I had never done before. I had not even considered the possibility of reaching the final, let alone winning the award. I was looking through the different awards and saw that one of the sponsors was HSBC, a company and sector that was of particular interest to me. The application process was such a good opportunity to practise online tests and answer questions from your sponsor. The video interview was a particular highlight for two reasons. The first being that my research into HSBC and the wider financial sector massively helped me to answer questions from the sponsor and attempt to solve the problems presented. The other being technical difficulties during the interview, during which my webcam spontaneously decided to rotate 90 degrees and record the segment at an angle. For this reason, I was astounded to hear back from TARGETjobs after the video interview and even more so that it was to invite me to an assessment centre at HSBC.

Given the circumstances of an assessment centre, it was an incredibly positive experience. I was invited to HSBC’s global headquarters in Canary Wharf and immediately loved the atmosphere at HSBC UK and working in the centre of London. I was incredibly pleased to have reached this far, which was much further than I initially thought I would get.

To my surprise, I got a call from HSBC a few weeks later offering me an internship, which was some of the best five weeks of 2020. I could not fault HSBC in the way they tackled the challenge of hosting their first ever virtual internship; they made all the interns feel valued and part of the community, even when the cohort spanned across several continents. During the internship I have learned what feels like a year worth of experience in five weeks. As interns we were challenged, allocated individual and group projects and encouraged to network with individuals across the business, learning about different areas of banking.

I was once again shocked at how well put together and enjoyable a virtual experience can be through the TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year awards final in September. It was great to reconnect with stakeholders at HSBC whom I had not met since the assessment centre and, of course, to meet the host, Rachel Riley. I thoroughly enjoyed the ceremony; it was a great opportunity to ask stakeholders about future careers and how to make the most out of this incredible award. I would recommend to everyone to take a leap of faith and apply because the opportunities are boundless and all experience is beneficial.