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Aaron Sherwood

Three reasons to apply for the Undergraduate of the Year Award

By Aaron Sherwood

There probably isn’t a better way to enhance your employability while at university than participating in the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award. So if you’re thinking of entering, read on as I share some insights into my experience of taking part, what to expect from the application process and where the Award has taken me so far.

After receiving an email from Target Jobs, the organiser of the Undergraduate of the Year Award, I knew that my experiences, competencies and desire to enhance my employability would stand me in good stead to enter the Management category, which is sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Employers from every sector like graduates who have made the most of their university life so this seemed liked another great opportunity to enhance my employability, gain some extra experience, and who knows – maybe even win it!

Undergraduate of the Year Assessment centreWhat particularly caught my interest was that Enterprise has won prestigious awards including Graduate Employer of the Year on numerous occasions – not to mention that the winner gains an internship and a week away in the U.S.A. I put myself forward and took the online tests thinking I had nothing to lose. The process actually mirrored a real job application involving a phone interview and a really fun assessment centre.

Going through the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award application process was hugely beneficial for me, as I gained a unique insight into what applying for graduate jobs is really like. The process that Enterprise uses is the same as the one used to assess graduates applying to the Graduate Management Trainee programme – another reason to take part. I am very aware the job market is incredibly competitive, and to get the career you want, you need to be ready. Applying for the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award will give you a distinct advantage when applying for graduate jobs in the future.

After passing the online tests I was invited to a telephone Interview with Ashley Hever, Director of Talent Acquisition. To prepare, I got in touch with Nicky Underdown, Manager of a local Enterprise Branch and asked to meet with her for an hour to get an insight into what it is like to work at Enterprise and what to expect from the recruitment process.

She was more than helpful in providing me with advice for my telephone interview and beyond. This equipped me really well for the telephone interview. Research is really important, so while you might not have the opportunity to speak to an Enterprise employee beforehand, there is plenty of information online that you can use to your advantage. As a result of a successful telephone interview, I was then invited to the assessment centre.

For many companies assessment centres are the last stage of the recruitment process and Enterprise is no exception. In fact, reaching this stage is an achievement in itself. The day was very structured and full of outstandingly talented individuals – use this opportunity to network with everyone else participating.

It’s really important to come prepared at an assessment centre. Reading Enterprise’s blogs on how to be great at job interviews and assessment centre tips helped me prepare for the day. I definitely learnt the importance of asking lots of questions, researching the job’s key competencies and highlighting why I should be the next Management Undergraduate of The Year. Important to note: a smile goes a long way too.

One really important piece of advice I would give is to ensure you are positive and specific in your answers, don’t waffle, keep good eye contact, smile, answer the actual questions and have two or three good questions of your own at the end. I would also recommend emailing the person doing the interview the next day to thank them for their time.

After what was a hugely insightful day, in which I met with some very high calibre candidates and company representatives from all around the country, I waited for the phone call to know whether I had made it any further. I was exceptionally proud to have reached this point – especially since I was only in my first year of university. A week or so later I had a call from Ashley Hever asking me how I thought the day went and to congratulate me on my performance. I had made the Top 10! Ecstatic does not even come close to how I felt receiving that news.

The Final awards ceremony was held at East Winter Gardens in Canary Wharf, where I had the opportunity to network with some of Enterprise’s senior business leaders. The Award is heavily supported by Enterprise, all the way to the highest level. I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Burrell, who at the time was Enterprise’s Senior Vice President for Europe. Jim explained to me the risk and reward processes involved when doing business in China – a country which I hope to work closely with in the future. Jim’s story of how he joined Enterprise as a Management Trainee and went on to lead its European Operations was exceptionally inspiring.

So where did participating in the Management Undergraduate of the Year Award take me? After the event I was offered a summer internship in Kent, and after that I was offered a role as a Campus Brand Manager at the University of York. This role required me to plan and organise marketing events, attend regular meetings, organise large speaking events and headhunt talented individuals. My work during the year resulted in me being named the North of England Campus Brand Manager of The Year, and I’m now working at Enterprise’s European head office on a placement year.

While I’ve chosen to continue my journey with Enterprise after taking part in the Award, it wasn’t my intention when I first applied. And while it might not be yours either, I still really recommend you apply for it.

It doesn’t matter what year of university you are currently in, what you’re studying, or perhaps what qualifications or skills you think you may be missing. This is a great chance to:

  • Get a unique insight into the graduate recruitment process
  • Network with some of Britain’s most successful business people
  • Gain the soft skills and experience you’ll need to gain employment after graduation.

And who knows, you might even win it and you’ll get to spend a week in the U.S.A! Don’t miss out – Enterprise Rent-A-Car are looking for exceptional candidates like you.

Registrations are now open now for the 2017 Management Undergraduate of the Year Awards. We are also accepting applications  for our Graduate Management Trainee Programme.

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Could you be the Management Undergraduate of The Year? Click here to find out more and to enter.

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Voted Graduate Employer of the Year at the 2016 TARGETjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards by UK students and a panel of experts.

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