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

Jack Winkles, MA Civil Engineering student and ‘Engineering and Construction’ Award finalist tells us about his experience at this year’s Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards.

The Target Jobs Undergraduate of the Year awards was a great experience. There were 14 awards, each sponsored by a different company. The sponsor for the Engineering and Construction award was Laing O’Rourke – an internationally renowned company focussed on innovation and cutting-edge design – with the award being an all-expenses paid, paid summer placement on one of their flagship projects anywhere in the world.

The application process started with numerous online tests including a maths-based test, logic-based test, and a personality test. The personality test consisted of over 100 questions based on ‘real life’ situations or on own personality traits, with answers which had to be ranked in the order most correct to least correct. These tests were so rigorous that 90% of the competition was filtered out here. The next stage consisted of two essay-based questions: the first being “In your opinion, what is the most important upcoming innovation in engineering and construction?” and the second being “If you could work on any previous construction project, which would it be and why?”. My answer to the first was based on the development and use of self-healing concrete due to the fantastic amount of money and resources it will inevitably save and the answer to the second focused on the Burj Khalifa – currently the tallest skyscraper in the world standing at 830m.

Once the essays had been submitted, I had to wait about a month before getting the fantastic news that I was through to the next round. This stage was an assessment day at Laing O’Rourke’s head offices in Dartford. This stage featured 15 – 20 other applicants and consisted of an hour group task of roughly 6 applicants discussing a past project, followed by individual presentations on why we should be the undergraduate of the year. The day proved a success and I later received an invitation inviting me to the awards ceremony in Canary Wharf.

The ceremony began at midday and welcomed us with a prosecco reception where we had the chance to network with professionals in the industries and meet the candidates of other awards. Here I met with Alex Stickler – a past winner of one of the awards and a previous student at Cardiff University who I had contacted to ask for advice on the assessment day. Following this reception, we made our way to the tables and, after a small welcoming, we enjoyed a 3-course meal followed by the awards presented by Rachel Riley.

As nerve-racking as the awards were, the whole day was a fantastic experience and to have gotten so far as a first year is a proud achievement. It is certainly worth applying to this award as it provides invaluable experience and a chance to win life-changing prizes.

Jack Winkles, MEng Civil Engineering

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