The Undergraduate of the Year awards
The targetjobs Undergraduate of the Year Awards is an annual competition open to students across the UK, partnered with an outstanding graduate recruiter that offers amazing opportunities such as 1-1 meetings with CEOs, placements, internships, or trips abroad. This year, they have 13 different awards on offer.
Of course, the idea that any of us could be considered as an ‘Undergraduate of the Year’ is daunting- so why should we apply? We spoke to some of our King’s finalists from the 2022 Undergraduate of the Year Awards to hear more about their experiences.
Tell us about yourself!
Lauren: Hi! My name is Lauren White, and I’m a BSc Psychology student here at King’s. I was a finalist for the First Generation Undergraduate of the Year.
Maria: I’m Maria Barragan, and I’m studying English Law and Spanish Law LLB. I was a finalist for the Future Lawyer of the Year award.
Sharon: My name is Sharon Adebola, and I’m pursuing a BA Politics degree. I was a finalist for the Black Heritage Undergraduate of the Year award!
Why did you decide to enter the UGOTY awards?
Lauren: “It sounded interesting and there was a cool internship with HSBC for the winner of the award that I applied for. I also liked that there was an award for first generation students since I feel that we can often be overlooked.”
Maria: “I had heard about the UGOTY awards because my sister had previously won the Future Lawyer of the Year award. She won a vacation scheme, and it helped her discern what career path she wanted. At this point, I was not sure about what I wanted to do as a career, so I wanted to do the same. I had previously applied to the UGOTY awards but did not pass the first stage. I wanted to try again because I thought it was a good opportunity to challenge myself, learn about the firm, network and simply have a chance at winning.”
Could you outline the application process for the award?
Lauren: “I had to do some behavioral questions, some problem solving and critical thinking questions, and a video interview. The video interview wasn’t with a person but just would time and film you as you responded to a question you were given. I know that some of the finalists for my award were also invited to a formal online interview, but I never was.”
Maria: “The application process for the Future Lawyer of the Year Award in 2022 began with an application form due on January 31st, 2022, which had four questions relating to the why of my application, relating a business story to Clyde & Co., my greatest accomplishment, and CSR and diversity. Once submitted, I was given access to an online test, which was a situational judgment test. Eventually, I received an email response from the recruitment team at Clyde & Co. which asked me to answer two more questions about another news story and commercial law at the firm.”
How did you feel when you found out you had been shortlisted as a finalist?
Lauren: “Quite excited – it was in late March, and I’d submitted my application in January on a whim, so I had forgotten about it and assumed I didn’t get to the next stage. I was also a bit nervous for the awards ceremony.”
Maria: “When I received the “Congratulations!” email, I was very excited and relieved because I had not passed many stages in previous applications, which had made me think I was incapable of passing the initial stage. It was a real confidence boost!”
Sharon: “I didn’t expect it! It was something I was doing by the side, so I wasn’t paying too much attention to it. But I was so happy and felt acknowledged- I was content that I accomplished my goal.”
What happened after you were a finalist?
Lauren: “I was invited to an awards ceremony at Canary Wharf, in the East Winter Garden. We were required to dress in smart business wear, and the awards were presented by Sue Perkins.”
Sharon: “After I got to the finals, I went to the awards ceremony to see the winner announced, which was great! The company that sponsored my award, Sky, arranged a whole insight day in their headquarters. So, we got to see the headquarters, what Sky does, the opportunity they have for young people. I was quite interested in broadcasting, and we got to see them live! It was a great network building experience. Sky requested us to send in a ‘network portfolio’ which basically just includes what we’ve done, what we’re studying, who we are, so that each of us could get to know each other and connect.”
What was the highlight of the whole experience?
Lauren: “Definitely the awards ceremony. It was such a crazy experience for me. It felt quite formal but exciting – there was a champagne reception, a three-course lunch, and obviously the winners from each of the UGOTY awards were announced. It was a fun day, and I met some interesting people.”
Maria: “My highlight was simply being a finalist and feeling like I finally knew how to write an application, like I had found the key! It felt like the congratulations received (being congratulated by King’s felt like parents being proud of me! I am a big King’s community fan!) made it feel very rewarding.”
Sharon: “When the newscaster at Sky News waved at me!”
What advice would you give to any students that have decided to apply to the competition?
Lauren: “If you’re thinking about it, just apply and don’t count yourself out. I put it off and almost didn’t apply because I thought it was so unlikely that I’d win anyway. I just looked back at my emails, and I completed the application at 11:30am on 31st January- half an hour before it was due! I didn’t win the award, but even being a finalist was such a cool experience and I’d recommend it to anyone. Have a look at which of the awards seems best to you and go for it!”
Sharon: “Essentially, be you! What they’re looking for are unique characters. Your story and what you stand for defines you, and that sets you apart from a lot of other people. Make sure you shine through in your application of who you are and what values you hold- because they want to know about you! For the interview, be confident and concise.”
Maria: “Be well prepared for every stage of the process through research. The important part is to know the firm very well. I did so much research that I was able to know the firm as if it were a person with its own personality. I had read once that if you take out the name of the firm from the application, you should be able to know which firm you are talking about. This was my goal as I was writing! A second bit of advice: get interview experience. King’s Career Connect has a service to practice an interview. It is a safe environment because you know it is people who want to see you succeed and it is their job to help you be better!”
Keen to find out more about the Undergraduate of the Year Awards? Our own King’s student Sharon Adebola will be a panelist at targetjobs’ ‘Guiding You Through Your Application’ event on Tuesday the 25th of October! Get your invite here!