Monday, April 15, 2013

Applying for the Engineering Undergraduate of the year

Engineering Undergraduate of the Year finalist, Jake Tudge writes about his experience of applying for the award as well as what he has been up to. 

My dissertation was submitted last week and the final coursework is due in Thursday; third year is almost over, bar exams that is! This Friday I will be heading to Canary Wharf for the Undergraduate of the Year Award ceremony, where I have secured a final top ten place or the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year award and I will be joining E.ON to find their engineering winner for 2013! To say I am excited is an understatement; I am expecting a day of fantastic networking opportunities and the chance to meet our host, Sir Trevor McDonald!

I’m coming to the end of my BEng year at the University of the West of England and, during my time at university I have realised the significant importance of employability.  During my summer last year I undertook an Energy Internship at South West Water, where I worked with the energy and carbon team to understand new energy source opportunities and how to reduce carbon emissions. As a result of my internship, my interest in the energy sector increased significantly and I was also fortunate to win First Prize in the Rathbones Green Intern of the Year award.

Prior to Christmas I received an email from TARGETjobs regarding the Undergraduate of the Year award and I noticed that the engineering award was sponsored by E.ON, one of the world’s largest investor-owned power and gas companies. The initial application process included entry of all standard education details, as well as three questions which required a five hundred word answer for each. I am not going to lie and say it was easy; it certainly took a lot of research and hard work, but evidently they were happy with my answers and saw the time invested. This is an excellent opportunity for me to note a comment from a senior graduate recruiter from a very large oil company; I was explicitly told that their application process is often cumbersome and extensive to simply remove those undergraduates not interested – something important to remember when you feel like throwing your laptop through the window.

Following my successful initial application to E.ON through the Undergraduate of the Year website, I was invited to undertake a series of numerical, verbal reasoning and other competency tests. Once again, these were extremely time consuming and at times very challenging, but you just have to remember why you are doing them. I personally thought I had performed poorly in some of the areas, but to my surprise I was invited to an assessment centre at E.ON’s Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station near Nottingham! Before my assessment centre I read through a number of the TARGETjobs pages on assessment centres and how to deal with them. If I was to offer some personal advice, it would be to introduce yourself to everyone you meet immediately and ensure they know your name – when it comes to the group exercises, it will look favourably when you know everyone’s name and people ask you for your opinion. Furthermore, just be yourself, remember the company want you there and be faithful of your abilities. The group exercises and presentations were inherently straight forward; however, I believe it is the personal interview where candidates can show their individual aptitude.

My personal interview consisted of two managers from E.ON and I was expecting a host of technical questions. However, I was surprised that the majority of questions were based on my personal attributes – what have I done outside of my studies, have I been involved in the Students’ Union and what hobbies do I have? It felt more like a personal conversation, but it showed me the importance of getting involved at university. Fortunately, I have been involved with the Union through acting as a Student Representative Department Chair and I have undertaken a variety of extra-curricular activities, which the interviewers kept asking questions about. Yes, there were many questions on the future of the energy sector but E.ON were keen to understand my personal ability, through understanding examples of experiences and how these would relate to working in their organisation.

Employability within engineering is the key to success and there are opportunities for everyone. During my next blog, I plan to feature opportunities for employability for those studying an engineering degree. Anyway, I must get back to this final piece of coursework and this Tuesday I’m off to the Cardiff UCAS fair, where I will be representing the University of the West of England and speaking to prospective students. Of course, it’s then the Undergraduate of the Year event on Friday; I’m extremely excited to meet all those involved and I look forward to a fantastic day! 

If you want to follow Jake on twitter to find out what he's up to and indeed if he is the Engineering Undergraduate of the Year follow him @jaketudge