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My experience at the Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards – Alice

Hello, I’m Alice and I’m from Oxford. I am currently a third year student studying Human and Social Sciences and earlier this year I was an ‘Impactful Social Action’ Award finalist at the Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards.

I love the fact that my degree teaches me practical things about the world around me, such as how inequalities are perpetuated and how they can potentially be resolved. This is something I am working on in my capacity as Head Rep for the Cardiff branch of SolidariTee – a student-led campaign selling t-shirts to raise money for Refugee Legal Aid. Setting up this branch in Cardiff has been an amazing experience, and when I saw the Impactful Social Action Undergraduate of the Year Award advertised by Target Jobs, I thought that it might be a great opportunity to spread the word about SolidariTee and the work I’ve done. The fact that the award was sponsored by Teach First and the #iwill campaign also really encouraged me to apply, as their work to alleviate educational inequalities and get as many young people volunteering and involved in social action as possible are things I am very passionate about.

Having received a lot of emails from Target Jobs about the awards, I researched them further and decided to apply. Last year marked the 10th year of the awards which have become a prestigious event thanks to the sponsors of each of the 14 awards who offer internships and opportunities as the prizes. I was one of 4542 students across the country who applied to the awards, as well as one of 552 students shortlisted to attend assessment centres and then one of 133 finalists for the awards, being one of 10 finalists for the Impactful Social Action Award.

The application process involved an online application in which I inputted my grades and details and answered some long answer questions relevant to my charity work and the importance of social action today. After completing this and forgetting about it for a while, I was invited to complete online tests which involved a combination of Situational Judgement Tests, Inductive and Numerical Reasoning tests, Occupational Personality tests and some bespoke employer questions that Teach First and #will campaign included to test my knowledge of the industry and my ideas for the sector. Having practised some similar tests through the Cardiff Award, I found this stage manageable but still challenging – it’s always hard to know how you’d act in hypothetical situations!

Again, after doing this stage of the application process, I forgot about the awards completely until I got an email asking me to attend an assessment centre in London for a competency-based interview and a pre-prepared 5-minute presentation on my area of social action. It was hard to know what to expect for the interview but using the resources on Target Jobs and Your Career Journey really helped me to get a better idea of what I could get asked. It turned out that the interviewer was really friendly and the whole experience of meeting other candidates, networking with the sponsors at lunch and spending the day in Teach First’s London office was really fun and enjoyable! Although I loved meeting other like-minded, socially active individuals, I found it hard to believe that with all of their amazing charity work and campaigns that I would ever get shortlisted from the 40 of us to the final 10. I was shocked when I got the final email saying that I was shortlisted for the award and invited to attend the annual awards ceremony in Canary Wharf.

The day itself was from 12 – 5pm in London and included a drinks reception, three course meal and ceremony hosted by Rachel Riley. It felt like something from The Apprentice with everyone in suits and dresses and a string quartet playing for us. However, I soon settled into the surroundings when I found the other 9 candidates for my award, some of whom I had met at the assessment centre, and the staff who had interviewed me. It was lovely to get a chance to chat further with them over lunch and hear the inspirational work of my fellow nominees. After lunch, Rachel Riley took to the stage and the awards ceremony officially began. She gave a wonderful speech about using her status for overcoming hate and gender biases, and then introduced each of the awards and their finalists before welcoming a spokesperson from the sponsors of the award to announce the winner.

Although I didn’t win the Impactful Social Action Award, I had an amazing time getting to know the other candidates, hearing the work of all of the winners for the other awards and networking with Teach First and the #iwill campaign representatives. It was great to see so many students doing so many great things and being recognised for them at such a prestigious and memorable event, and I’m proud to have been able to represent Cardiff.

For anyone considering applying to any of the awards, don’t hesitate to do so! The whole process from the application to the assessment centre was a huge learning experience and it was amazing to meet such driven and passionate students along the way. I would say don’t stress about being the ‘best in the room,’ as what I learnt from the whole experience is that everyone can be amazing and influential, but that doesn’t mean that you are not. If anything, these awards allow you to meet like-minded people in a celebration of UK students.

Alice Abrey, third year Human and Social Sciences

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